Meet Beyoncé, 21 Savage, Jay-Z and Cardi B’s songwriter who started making beats from her dorm room!

Last Modified: 9th Sep

Nija Charles is just over her teens- she is just 21 years old (as of February 2019) and is already one of the most sought-after songwriters in the music industry. She has even co-earned three 2019 Grammy nominations and celebrated Grammy wins from albums of Cardi B, Beyoncé and Jay-Z.

Credit: ABC News (Nija Charles)

In a February 2019 interview with ABC News’ Nightline, Charles shared her greatest achievements as a songwriter,

“I’ve worked with Beyonce, Jay Z, Cardi B, Kehlani, SZA, Chris Brown, Jason Derulo, many more. 21 Savage, Meek Mill, it goes on.”

But that was not always the case. Only a few years ago, she was a regular teenager busy with college, classes, assignments, and concerts.

Family Background

Nija Charles revealed that she was born into a family of musicians. Her father is a DJ while her mother is a dancer. Even her extended family are musicians. She added on to say that her grandmother was in a choir while her uncle and aunt produced music. In the same 2019 interview, she shared,

“My dad’s a DJ. My mom is a dancer. My grandmother was in the choir, so my aunt and uncle, they produced. So growing up, I was always just around music.”

First Steps

Growing up in Union, New Jersey, with music all around her it did not take long for her to pick up the family’s passion. At the age of 13, she asked her mom for a mini keyboard so that she could produce, in exchange for straight A's. Nija Charles recalled,

“So she got it for me, and then, right then and there, I started banging on the keypad. I was, you know, making beats for a while and then I knew that people didn't want to hear just beats... so I was like, 'Alright, well let me sing on them ... so I started doing that. They're like, 'Yeah, I liked the beats, but you know, who's this singing?’ So that led me into songwriting.”

Credit: Instagram (Nija Charles)

Starts Songwriting and Collaborations

Not so long after, Charles started to write songs. While a student at New York University, she used up her free time to make beats in her dorm room. Recalling her college days at the New York University's Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music, she said,

“It was very hard. There were some classes I had definitely had to skip. But yeah, it was just time management and knowing that I had to hurry up [and] finish my homework before I got on the plane or do my homework on the plane and then go and write the songs during the weekend and come back and make sure I studied hard so I can finish out school that year.”

But her busy schedule and passion to create and write music took a toll on her studies. Eventually, she dropped out and moved to Los Angeles.

In addition to famous names such as Beyonce, Jay Z, Cardi B, Kid Ink, Flo Rida,  Kehlani, SZA, Chris Brown, 21 Savage, and Meek Mill, she has worked with Jason Derulo on the official 2018 World Cup song.

Credit: Instagram (Nija Charles)

Male-dominated industry

Her success has not come easy. Moreover, the fact that making beats and songwriting is a male-dominated industry is something she keeps in her mind. Charles confessed in the same interview with ABC News,

“Every time I'm in a room with full of males, I have something to prove because I feel like as a woman we don't get as much respect and we're also not looked at as the person who's going to be writing, you know, co-writing with them. So every time I come in, I have to make sure they know that I'm on the same level as you guys. 

When I walk [in] and no one’s really paying attention, but once they hear what comes out, and then I walk out, they’re like, ‘Oh my gosh, you know, you’re hard. You’re hard. Let’s do it again.’ So then it’s like, as soon as I get out, I get that respect.”

Producer Cardo, who is behind Drake’s hit song God’s Plan and one of Nija Charles’ mentors admits that her talents are rare. He said,

“For her to poke out and be that light, it's rare, you feel me? She's actually opening up the door for more females to do what she's doing, and that's incredible, you know. So I feel like they’re going to see something from her and feel some sort of inspiration from her.”

Credit: Instagram (Nija Charles)

Where is Nija Charles headed?

Charles is already on the right track of making her dreams come true. Having worked so hard and achieved so much at such a young age, she now wants to pursue her solo music career.

Currently, she lives in Los Angeles, where she owns an apartment with an in-home studio and works full time.

Short Bio of Nija Charles

Nija Charles’ birth took place on October 20, 1997, in Union, New Jersey, United States. Her mother’s name is Tracy Charles and her father goes by the stage name Pookie. She has a younger sister too named Zoe, who is 16 years old...Click here for Full Bio

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