You think you know Ester Dean, but you have no idea.
To eagle-eyed fans who scan the iTunes digital booklets for albums by pop deities like Beyoncé, Kelly Clarkson, Nicki Minaj and Katy Perry, the Muskogee, Oklahoma, girl is a (frequently) reoccurring name among the writers’ credits. In fact, get-it-girl anthems including, respectively, “Countdown,” “Mr. Know It All,” “Super Bass” and “Firework” all bear Dean’s chart-choking stamp.
But to other folks, Dean is Rihanna’s musical alter ego, the saucy scribe who channels the Bajan stunner’s carnal appetites and then churns out irresistibly raunchy radio ditties like “Rude Boy” and “S&M.” When MTV News asks her about it, decorated songwriter Dean said she understands why Top 40 fans might be confused. Now, with her solo album under way, the Roc Nation signee is ready to introduce fans to the real Ester.
“They hear songs and they think they know exactly who I am,” Dean acknowledged before giving some insight into her personality. “I am very crazy. I like people to know my ideas. I like to talk about ’The Secret’ [laughs] and how to manifest great things in your life. I like to be a role model, and I like to talk sh–, you know?” she said with a laugh, highlighting contradictions typical of any grounded female. “I like to talk nasty; I like to talk about love.”
Her Chris Brown-featuring single “Drop It Low” got some shine back in 2009. Her status as one of the industry’s elite songwriters and the go-to hand for Norwegian super-producers Stargate has long lifted Dean out of subsidized housing in the ATL, thrusting her into the rarefied realm of music biz success stories. So why does the Grammy nominee want to trade the comparative anonymity of the studio for the glare of the spotlight?
Well, after “manifesting” a career writing catchy tunes for pop and R&B princesses, Dean realized there were just some songs that needed a certain voice: hers. “I need to sing the songs that there’s no artist to sing [the] songs for me,” Dean said, a note of determination creeping into her whispery alto.
“I’ve been waiting to do it for a couple of years now, and people ask me what took so long. I don’t believe in leaving one job before the next job. My writing was a job … so I just needed to wait. But now I feel like I’ve actually stacked … my credits up enough for people to understand who I am and what’s my sound.”
Dean admitted she’s looking forward to seeing the names of some of her loyal clients next to the word “featuring” on the track list for her still-untitled album, which is due later this year. Rihanna, for example, can expect a phone call, Dean revealed. But country sweetheart Taylor Swift should also check her voicemail soon.
“It’s really a relief to say, ’OK, I’m here. I’m gonna do it, lets go!’ ”
What do you hope Ester’s solo album will sound like? Tell us in the comments!