19-year-old UK Singer Arlissa Set to Explode With Nas Collaboration

Nineteen-year-old singer-songwriter Arlissa finds herself in rare company on her debut single “Hard to Love Somebody”—she is partnered with star hip-hop artist Nas.

Due out on a re-launched London Records next month, their joint effort seems like it will launch the half German/half American in spectacular fashion. Inspired by a break-up with her boyfriend of three years, Arlissa’s soulful vocal talent struck a note with Nas, who flew her out to Los Angeles to record face-to-face—at a time when many collaborations occur without the artists ever laying eyes on each other during the process.

Even in the midst of promoting the release his own new album Life is Good (which debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 last month), Nas felt the need to hop on “Hard to Love Somebody” after hearing about Arlissa’s track via word of mouth. The only other UK artist “God’s Son” had collaborated with in the past was Nas’s longtime friend, Amy Winehouse. This high profile release has already pushed Arlissa to the forefront of the UK music scene, and she will certainly be a fixture in London’s pop landscape in coming years.

“The whole experience was completely surreal,” Arlissa recalls. “My ex was obsessed by Nas, and we used to listen to him all the time…though I was only a year old when Illmatic was released.”

Raised in south London’s Crystal Palace, Arlissa was determined to make her goals as a musician a reality, even after her breakup and watching her friends move on to university. Just a year removed from her A-Levels (Britain’s equivalent to AP placement tests), Arlissa managed to get her toe in the door when “Hard to Love Somebody” became a viral sensation. Nas materialized his verse almost directly on the spot, creating a powerful alternate verse to coincide with Arlissa’s chorus. Arlissa also happens to be beautiful, which certainly won’t hurt her career.

“He just makes you feel so comfortable,” Arlissa says, “that it wasn’t until I was on the plane home that I suddenly realised, ‘F**k, I just did a track with Nas’. It’s been an incredible opportunity.”

The single will be released on September 30th, and will include Arlissa’s original version of “Hard to Love Somebody,” along with the Nas collaboration and a pair of remixes. The remixes will be handled by 88 Keys, of “No Church in the Wild” fame, and The Nextmen, who have produced tracks for Britain’s own Plan B and Pharcyde. In the meantime, you can check out the music video for “Hard to Love Somebody,” which chronicles Arlissa’s journey from London to Nas’s Los Angeles studio.

—Kevin Webb

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