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Rio Ferdinand’s first record

Lynda Moyo listens to the debut signing for the Manchester United star's White Chalk label

Written by . Published on August 8th 2008.

Rio Ferdinand’s first record

When a CD envelope labelled ‘Music from Rio Ferdinand’s first album release’ arrived at the Confidential office, the first thought which came to mind was John Barnes. Could this be a repeat performance of that fateful rap which featured on the 'World in Motion' song by New Order? Yes it did, bizarrely, hit the top spot in 1990 and is still widely regarded as one of the best football songs ever to be made, but John Barnes as a rapper? It didn’t exactly pose much of a threat to the Jay-Zs of the music industry did it? Can you even recall a footballer rapping since? Thankfully no.

Luckily we're not about to either. Rio isn’t just a pair of well-limbered legs. He has more sense and money than to release a dodgy rap record in 2008. In the music industry the money is made behind the scenes and that’s just what Rio’s doing.

This brings us to Nia Jai, Rio’s first signing from his own record label White Chalk. Nia, 25, is from Burnage and won a competition to find the first star of the label. Her album, Black Ice is due to be released on 6 October and is a really good effort.

The general feel of the music is a mixture of R'n'B, hip-hop, reggae and grime along the same kind of vibe as Estelle, before Kanye West waved his magic wand over her, so to speak. So in other words, Nia Jai has a great deal of potential.

Rio says in the intro: “This is Rio Ferdinand…make sure you don’t sleep on this girl…this girl spits out fiyahhh.” Rio is clearly confident and committed to this project. I mean let's face it, he could just play football, advertise some shaving foam and sell his wedding pictures to a glossy, but that's not what this is about.

Throughout the CD are references to Manchester, “We struggle to maintain and end up in Strangeways”, “We reppin it up in Manny…throw ya M’s up”. Lyrically, Nia Jai raps and sings her way through the story of her life like many new artists do. Tracks feature Manchester rappers Shifty and Liquid as well as Mercury Prize nominated London rapper Sway - clearly a Rio hook-up. So whilst Nia is trying to keep her music true to her roots, she also shows that she is capable of collaborating with the big boys whilst still keeping a northern twist on the winning formula. Watch out for this girl.


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