Nija deserves all the blessings coming to her, from starting as an intern to working with the legendary Beyonce to now unleashing her own music. Hailing from New Jersey and even getting a street named after her back home, Nija is a singer, songwriter, producer, recording artist, executive, and entrepreneur — who knows a thing or two about hit records. 

Nija’s long catalog of hits include credits on Cardi B “I Do” and “Ring” off her debut album Invasion of Privacy, Jason Derulo’s “Colors” which became the anthem for the FIFA World Cup in 2018, Meek Mill’s “24/7”, Lady Gaga’s “Rain On Me”, Ariana Grande’s “Positions”, and most recently, Beyonce’s “Cozy” off her newest project RENAISSANCE. She even was nominated for a Grammy for her work on Chris Brown and Drake’s “No Guidance.”

But still, nothing is more fulfilling than being able to step into the limelight and focus on her own artistry. Fresh off the heels of her debut solo project called Don’t Say I Didn’t Warn You, Nija returns with her newest ballad titled “Love Like This,” the perfect soundtrack to any new romance.

Sheen spoke with Nija in downtown Los Angeles to discuss starting as an intern,

I didn’t know you produced too? You do it all!

Yeah, that’s actually how I started. I wanted to be a producer. I wanted to be the female Pharrell. I used to watch Ryan Leslie videos all the time. 

My girl is obsessed with Ryan Leslie. 

He’s the best! His videos were so crazy. That was so inspiring to me while I was growing up, I was 13 watching those videos. I had talked about it yesterday because PnB Rock died, and I’d known him since I was 17. Not a lot of people know, but he was one of the first artists to give me a shot. When I was just a producer, he used to see me making beats in the studio lobby when I was interning. It was against studio rules and he’d say “yo, send him some shit.” Before I even thought of writing on records, when I was just producing, he was like “let’s connect.”

Was this on the East Coast? 

Yeah, we were in New York at Blast Off. 

I’m devastated, I can’t wrap my head around it. PnB Rock is so talented. 

Same. Thinking about his daughters too, it’s really sad. And knowing the type of person he is, really sad.

You started as an intern in high school, that’s so inspiring!

Yes, I was going to a high school program at NYU. One of the instructors, Marat, a really good friend of mine now, he said I should do an internship at a studio. I said where? He mentioned Blast Off, it was the summertime so I signed up. They said “come every Saturday and Sunday, be an intern.” That’s really how everything started: learning the studio, being around A&Rs and artists. I remember A Boogie when he first got signed, coming through there. I met 50 Cent there. A lot of people were in there. 

Did you ever think you’d be here now, working with the biggest artists and releasing your own music? 

No. It was fun for me, it was a hobby. I’m like I do this for fun, we’ll see where this takes me. I did not know that I was going to be here. It’s always so surreal, I have to always pinch myself. Especially growing up in a small town, you don’t think that’s attainable. 

Can you talk about getting a street named after you in New Jersey? 

That was crazy. Listen, I love Semii to death because she helped put that together. I remember I had went home, this was over the pandemic. Usually, I’d go home quarterly. Very often. But because of the pandemic, I wasn’t able to come home a lot so my family weren’t able to celebrate the Beyoncé feature and video. Finally I went home around my birthday, she’s telling me we’re going to celebrate the “MY POWER” song. I did an interview with the town hall, for the kids or whatever. We start driving home and I’m wondering why all these people are here. 

Oh yeah, I forgot it was a surprise! 

It was a surprise! My mom said “make sure you go on Live.” Alright, what are y’all planning? [laughs] Are you having a block party? Even when I got out the car, everyone was cheering. They uncovered the street sign and it was surreal, I broke down into tears. A lot of times, I don’t take in what I’m doing because I’m always on the go. That was the first time like damn, that’s the street I grew up on and they named it after me. It really puts into perspective all the hard work I’ve done. Every time I go home, I have to make sure I take a picture.

You released your new project, Don’t Say I Didn’t Warn You. How are you feeling?

It feels great especially because I got to show the world more of me, what I do, what I like, how I sound. Give them a new perspective of who Nija is. 

Why did you name it that? 

A few reasons. It was a double entendre. It’s no secret I’m a songwriter turned artist. I was one of the more public songwriters, I put my face out there. There’s a known thing that songwriters don’t usually cross over into their artistry, they’re meant to be in the background only. It was me saying don’t say I didn’t warn you to the industry and to the public. I beat the odds. Anything I want to do, I can do! That was a warning to everybody. The other meaning of it, I was in a relationship. It was a little toxic. We were up and down so I was telling him don’t say I didn’t warn you. You missed out, you messed up.

What were you going through recording “Love Like This”? I was listening to it last night! 

Thank you. I wrote it in New York. I wrote it around the same time that I did “Confujawn” with Capella Grey. It’s that feeling… I was in the talking stage. You know the honeymoon phase when you get that crush, and you start falling in love with the potential of what things can be? That’s where that came from. Especially coming from a relationship where it was a lot of toxicity, it was a breath of fresh air. 

What’s the perfect environment for you to work? 

The perfect environment is no negativity. People don’t realize how much people spew negativity. People come and gossip. Listen, take that out. When you come in the studio, it’s good vibes. Let’s focus on what makes us happy. Candy, I love candy.

What kind of candy?

Nerds Clusters. I’m addicted to Nerds Clusters right now, or Sour Patch straws. Love those. Sour candy gets me perky and up, keeps my brain going so I love having candy in the studio.

I need the vibes right on the lighting. I love colored lights, it makes me feel like I’m in a spaceship. It’s in a separate world from our regular life, so it’s able to put my brain in a different space. Colored lights, candy, good vibes, and the smell’s gotta be right. 

I know you get asked this in every interview, but what does it mean to work on Beyonce’s new album?

Every project that I work on with Beyoncé means a lot to me, but this one definitely hit home because house music is so big. You got the Jersey club wave for the younger generation, my generation. It’s what Philly is dancing too and what’s going viral on TikTok, Drake did “Sticky” to it. But the older generation, it’s the music we listen to at cookouts and graduations. My parents are real house heads. They go to Zanzibar, The Shelter, they were going to Brooklyn. 

I remember going to Brooklyn every weekend, going to house festivals and sitting in the park with them listening to music. My dad is a house DJ and my mom is a dancer, they grew up going to the club. My godfather’s a DJ. Growing up around that atmosphere, when Bey said she was working on house music, alright y’all. What kind of house music?! Oh, this house music!

The fact that I was able to do “COZY,” it was fun for me because people don’t ask me to write that type of music. Oh nah, I really know this! It was really fun for me because I don’t get to work in that space a lot. and it’s Beyoncé. On top of that, it’s a women empowerment record. I love making those for her and for all women in general, making sure everyone feels beautiful and powerful and confident.

How proud are your parents?

Aw man, you should see their Facebooks! [laughs] Wild, they love bragging about me all the time. 

Do you have any beauty go-to’s?

Yes! Everyday, gotta make sure that the skin routine is right. I wake up, after I take a shower and wash my face. I gotta use the Hyaluronic Acid from The Ordinary, I love their products. I use the Milk moisturizer to get my skin nice and soft, just fresh. I use mostly all Fenty products for makeup. I do very very light makeup because on a regular day basis, just very quick and making sure everything is alright. I’ll do a little concealer, and that’s really about it. Just concealer and some mascara. I don’t really do eyelashes too much, only for special occasions. 

Any goals for yourself? 

Yes, I want to have an album on the Hot 100 as an artist. That’s one of the main things for me. I really want to pass the baton to another writer, that’s one of my biggest things. That’s the game: having someone under you, showing them the ropes. Giving them what I’ve had. Even though I’m young, I’ve been in the game for almost 5 years now. It’s always time for someone new, so I want to teach someone. 

Passing the baton, my artistry, and I want to get into acting and producing shows. I look at Ester Dean and how she took that route too, I want to use my platform to get into other things. As a creator, music isn’t the only thing. I want to get into fashion, all of that stuff. I don’t want to keep it just music. That’s one of the main reasons why I wanted to put my face out there. When I first started even getting on the scene, it was so that people don’t pigeonhole me as just a songwriter. I’ve done modeling, all these other things. Making sure that I’m a brand, but I’m a brand that makes fire songs! [laughs]