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    Nikki & Rich

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    Genre:Jazz, R&B, Pop, Soul
    Rank: history »
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    Most Popular Songs (more)

    1Same Kind of Man lyrics
    2Money Chaser lyrics
    Next Best Thing lyrics
    4Cat and Mouse lyrics
    5City Lights lyrics

    Most Popular Albums (more)

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    Nikki & Rich are Nikki Leonti, a California-born pastor's daughter who grew up singing in church, and Rich Velonskis, a Queens, NY-born former DJ and established hip-hop/R&B producer who got his start spinning in New York City clubs as a teenager. These two seemingly opposite characters first met in 2007. Nikki was based in Nashville working as a background singer for Carrie Underwood and Rich was in Los Angeles producing tracks for Eve, Robin Thicke, Mario, and Ludacris, under his moniker Rich Skillz. (A track he produced on Ludacris' No. 1 album Release Therapy earned Rich a "Best Rap Album" Grammy.) Rich was looking for a strong vocalist and lyricist to collaborate with and take his tracks to the next level and he found the perfect match in Nikki.

    The two began working together in December 2008, writing and recording up in Rich's Hollywood Hills home studio. The result is a sparkling collection of exuberant doo-wop pop-soul--a sound that, thanks to Nikki's sassy, high-stepping vocal quality, captures all the fun and vitality of classic '60s girl groups but is made thoroughly modern by Rich's hard-hitting, radio-ready beats and keyboard textures. Imagine The Chiffons' Judy Craig or The Marvelettes' Gladys Horton backed by OutKast and you're not far off.

    "We didn't want to make a tribute record to past artists and have it sound like something that came out 40 years ago," Rich says. "We wanted to take the spirit and greatness of those times and bring them into the present day, and I think the way it's produced and the style of our writing bear that out. The album we've made sounds contemporary, not like a doo-wop throwback."

    Aside from "Cat and Mouse," Nikki & Rich's brightly melodic gems include the vampy "Money Chaser." (featured on the July season premiere of HBO's Entourage), the Motown-esque "On the Run," (based on Holland-Dozier-Holland's "[Love Is Like A] Heat Wave"), the swaggering "Next Best Thing," the world-weary "Fine," and the tears-on-your-pillow weepie
    "Show Ya," which Nikki jokingly calls their "'50s prom theme song." "Lyrically the songs draw on the everyday things people deal with," Nikki says. "Some of it is personal to me, some of it isn't, but I think the subject matter -- like someone cheating, making bad choices in relationships, or trying to win someone over -- are things that a lot of people can relate to."

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