Something’s different about NJOMZA. Of course, that’s always been true of the German-born, Chicago-raised, Los Angeles-based artist who so seamlessly blends modern pop sparkle with R&B intimacy that you’d assume she’s been preparing for this her whole life (she has). And to be fair, her path through music has been rare: honing her studio chops with Mac Miller as her mentor, and flexing her songwriting prowess by cowriting Ariana Grande’s biggest hits to date (“7 Rings,” “Thank U, Next”). But something’s changed. After introducing herself to the world via two color-themed EPs that found her sporting neon pink and blue hair to match, NJOMZA is noticeably, stunningly, natural as she prepares to drop her long-awaited debut album.
“I was gonna do another color, but as I worked on the music, it just didn’t feel right,” she says. “I dove deeper into who I am as a person on these songs. The wigs are fun for me but every time I’d take one off after a performance, it’s like, ‘Oh, here’s who I actually am.’ This was like: “You’re ready to completely be yourself and make the music you want to make. It’s that time.’”
Maybe NJOMZA’s drive to keep pushing forward has something to do with roots — her folks fled war in Kosovo before giving her an Albanian name that means “fresh flower bud” — but it’s been a constant.