From pen and paper to full-length projects, New Jersey native pineappleCITI has already established herself as a critically-acclaimed songwriter and one of hip-hop’s highly anticipated acts. Growing up the daughter of a DJ, pineappleCITI began crafting her sound at the age of 6. Her big break came in 2016 when she quit her day time job at daycare to team up with her producer Fre$h and pursue her passion full time. Within a year, pineappleCITI’s music went mainstream, with two of her most popular singles, “Rose-Colored” and “Pepsi” receiving radio airplay. Buzz around the industry intensified when a video of Chris Brown’s dancer Kida the Great performing to “Rose Colored” went viral. Instead of celebrating the success of her music debut, a horrific car accident left pineappleCITI hospital bound and nearly paralyzed.

This near-death experience was not enough to slow pineappleCITI down but rather further motivated her to refine her craft. Since the crash, pineappleCITI has earned writing credits with Kelly Rowland and Yo Gotti in addition to partnering with Red Bull Music, Ciroc, and Vydia. Now fully recovered, pineappleCITI is primed to take her music to the next level with the release of her brand new 10-track project, neonBLUE, streaming everywhere.

Amidst the excitement of the album’s release, pineappleCITI took the time to talk with Vydia about her brief brush with death, her road to recovery, and what fans can expect with neonBLUE. Here’s what she had to say:

You grew up in a musical household where both your father and grandfather were DJs. Did this experience motivate you to pursue a career in music?

Absolutely! Growing up, music was all around me. My family is full of creative people so it was like second nature. I used to carry around a rap book when I was 6 years old. My dad started calling me “Britt Citi” like Brick City (Newark, NJ) back then.

Following the footsteps of music legends Lauryn Hill and Queen Latifah, you are the next female hip-hop artist to rise out of New Jersey. How has living in the Garden State influenced your sound?

The Garden State has not only influenced my sound but it has influenced my whole essence of being. I always strive for greatness because my state is full of greatness. Saying the names above and Whitney Houston alone let me know I have big shoes to fill. The cool thing about Jersey is that we love all different kinds of music, so our style is one of a kind. However, at the same time, when you hear us you can’t pinpoint exactly where we are from. I think that’s super dope because we are versatile in that way.

You describe yourself as an “old soul in a millennial’s body”. Who has been your biggest inspiration?

I can’t really name one person on this one. I remember sitting in my grandmother’s kitchen on Vassar Ave in Newark. Although I don’t remember who would put the radio on, I do remember listening to Erykah Badu’s Tyrone over and over again – along with Lauryn Hill’s Miseducation. I must’ve danced to Mista’s Candy Rain over a million times. Jay-Z also has to be my biggest inspiration as far as lyricism and overall black excellence is concerned. I also got into Nas, Wu-Tang, Biggie, Tribe Called Quest, De La.Soul, D’Angelo, Mos Def, Bilal, etc.

Where did the name PineappleCITI originate from?

As I mentioned earlier, my dad called me “Britt Citi” as a young rapper growing up. The pineapple actually came from me wearing my hair in a pineapple bun. The pineapple just fit right into my sound, my message, the way I dress somehow.

How would you describe your sound and what sets it apart from mainstream hip-hop today?

I have an old school sound with a new school flow. Growing up and falling in love with 90s music, in general, changed my life and my overall approach to how I make a record. My sound is passionate. I think that’s the best word to describe it. Music has always been an outlet for me. So every song you hear from me has passion in it because it comes from real life experiences. I’m telling my story from my perspective and that’s what sets me apart. My life is something that everyone can relate to but at the same time, no one has ever walked in my shoes to be able to tell my story in the way that I can relay it.

You emerged on the scene in 2016 when your standout single “Rose Colored” captured the attention of the industry and eventually led to your current partnership with Clinton Sparks. What has been the best piece of advice you have received working with this Grammy award-winning producer?

The best advice I’ve ever received from him is that sometimes things don’t go as planned but whatever you do don’t stop! – Pivot and keep going.

As your single “Rose Colored” went viral, your career was almost completely derailed after a serious car accident left you hospitalized. Did this life-changing experience change your approach to creating music?

God spoke to me on that day and told me how my life would unfold. That accident inspired me to be a more devoted person to my purpose and to my faith in general. I believe I have a message to share with the world and it’s bigger than music. I believe it has something to do with sharing God’s love for everybody and helping everyone live out their purpose. This is way bigger than me.

In addition to creating your own music, you’ve emerged as a critically acclaimed songwriter, establishing a partnership with Red Bull Publishing and penning music for Kelly Rowland and Yo Gotti. What is the most significant difference between writing music behind-the-scenes for other artists to perform your own content live?

First I must say, working with Kelly Rowland was incredible! Writing for other artists is an amazing experience. It’s almost like method acting in a sense. The difference in this and writing songs for myself is that I have to try to get into that artist’s head and write a song genuine to their experience.

Your latest single ‘I Need A Coupe’ has already been featured on Amazon’s ‘Introducing Hip-Hop’ and Spotify’s “Mellow Bars” playlists, what was the story behind the video for your hit single?

“I Need A Coupe” is all about manifestation. I wrote that song right before the last surgery on my foot. I was in a dark place, but I am also a firm believer in the law of attraction. You MUST visualize your goals and your dreams in order for them to take shape. I stand by that. I rented the Ferrari in the “I Need a Coupe” video. Next year I guarantee I’ll own something like that.

Your upcoming project, neonBLUE, dropped today! How would describe this body of work?

neonBLUE is a 10 track body of work that best describes my life: my trials, my tribulations, my triumphs, my love affairs, my heart breaks. It’s pretty much anybody’s life in album form. I wrote all of these songs from the heart. It’s a mixture of melodies, harmonies, bars, & waves that I’m sure anyone would find relatable. It is food for the soul.

What sets it apart from your previous releases?

I think any of my fans that have been following me from the beginning will see the growth in who I am as an artist. It’s deeper, more inviting, more exciting music. I feel like I’ve found my niche and it’s only up from here.

What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced as a female working in a male-dominated genre? How have you overcome it?

The biggest challenge I think I’ve faced is just that I’m paving my own path. When you are a trailblazer (as all women are), the yellow brick road isn’t laid out for you. Any woman in any male-dominated field would understand that. But I believe that makes success all the sweeter

You’ve maintained your independence as an artist. What advice would you give to aspiring independent artists?

Keep believing in your dreams and yourself. Trust God and your purpose. Never sell yourself short. What God has planned for your life no man can ever take away!

How has Vydia empowered you as an independent artist?

Vydia has helped me expand my audience in ways I didn’t imagine. They are very personable, involved, and most importantly prepared to work on the best ideas we have at hand. It’s cool having someone else there to support your goals and your success story.

What is a fun fact no one knows about you?

I used to sing in show choir. I traveled the country singing show tunes in high school!

Want more pineappleCITI? Be sure to stream and share with your friends her new project neonBLUE. Don’t forget to follow her on social media for more music updates.

Check back next week to who we will feature for our next Vydia Spotlight.