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— By Dontaira Terrell
Due to her massive songwriting success, the name Ester Dean is synonymous with “The Song Machine,” a rightful title she received following a 2012 interview with The New Yorker that has since stuck with the multi-talented songwriter. As a Grammy-nominated producer, the 37-year-old has penned major hits for Beyoncé, Nicki Minaj, Rihanna, Usher, Keyshia Cole, Chris Brown, Trey Songz, and several others.
Aside from penning chart-topping hits for some of our favorite artists, she’s also amassed personal success with her very own music. Back in 2009, she entered the Top 40 with her single “Drop it Low” followed by many more singles in the years to come. However, she’s not just killin’ the airwaves with some of today’s biggest tunes, she’s also making strides in both film and television. The Oklahoma native has appeared in the Pitch Perfect movie franchise, had voiceover roles in animated films such as Rio and most recently serves one of three guest judges on NBC’s songwriting competition series “Songland.”
During this year’s REVOLT Summit in Atlanta, which is taking place in the ATL on Sept. 12 – Sept.14, Ester Dean will be featured on the “Songwriting 101” panel to share her secrets to success for creating No.1 hits. As the countdown continues until the three-day event, we’ve put together seven fan favorites from Dean’s continuing track record of bonafide hits. Check them out below!
“Super Bass” by Nicki Minaj
Released in the spring of 2011, “Super Bass” was the fifth single from Nicki Minaj’s critically acclaimed Pink Friday album. The song peaked at the No. 3 spot on the charts, which was the very first top ten placement for the Queens native as a lead artist. Ester Dean’s background vocals can be heard on the track, as well.
“Rude Boy” by Rihanna
The song was not only a huge success for the Bajan singer, but it was also a big break for Ester Dean. The single appeared on the US Billboard Hot 100 charts for five consecutive weeks. Although it was Rihanna’s sixth No. 1 single in the U.S., it was Dean’s first! In previous interviews, she explained the premise of the song stemmed from conversations with Rihanna about the dynamics of “bad boys” in Barbados. The songwriter also previously said, “That one time you write a song about a guy and how big his penis is, it’ll be your first number one.” Well, OK then, Ms. Dean!
“Countdown” by Beyoncé
The song appeared on Queen Bey’s fourth studio album titled 4 and it was the fifth single released from it. A tribute to love and self-empowerment, it is a perfect blend of musical styles from both the ’90s and ’70s fused with a sample from Boyz II Men’s 1991 song “Uhh Ahh.” Since this collaboration, a bond was formed between the two music sensations. According to Dean, Bey has even given her a few personal dating tips. Can you imagine receiving love advice from the Queen herself?!
“The One” by Mary J. Blige featuring Drake
Writing a track for the “Queen of Hip Hop Soul” is kind of a big deal! Wouldn’t you agree? The song was the lead single from Mary J. Blige’s ninth studio album, Stronger with Each Tear, and became the fifth entry for the Yonkers native on the Hot R&B/Hip Songs chart. Prior to the album’s release, the 48-year-old described the song as “the most successful of my career. I am very passionate about hip hop, R&B, and to dance. This song will not disappoint you.”
“Sex Therapy” by Robin Thicke
Here’s a bedroom ballad that was released as the lead single in 2009 from Robin Thicke’s fourth studio album. The single reached the top spot on the R&B/Hip Hop Songs chart and became his second No.1 hit. When it comes to her songwriting process, Dean explained, “I have imaginary relationships with people so I can get mojo. What would he do? How would that work? And then, I use all of that emotion and write songs.”
“Lil Freak” by Usher featuring Nicki Minaj
Ester Dean definitely turned up the heat on this one! The song was the second single from Usher’s sixth studio album, Raymond v. Raymond, which was released in 2010. The beat is comprised of a sample from Stevie Wonder’s 1973 classic “Living for the City,” and the lyrics reflect the thrill and allure of organizing a ménage à trois in the club.
“Google Me” by Teyana Taylor
It was the first single released in 2008 by the multi-talented performer that helped put her on the map. Though it wasn’t a chart-topping success, it generated buzz for the then 17-year-old. Ironically, the lyrical content behind the song parallels much of Teyana Taylor’s life today. As she effortlessly lets us know throughout the duration of the song, “Google me, baby, You better ask somebody, You better Google me, baby.” Eleven years later and the world is definitely googling this Harlem superstar.
If you love Atlanta and hip hop/R&B, you’ll definitely want to join us and AT&T in the ATL on Sept. 12- Sept. 14 for our three-day REVOLT Summit, which was created to help rising moguls reach the next level. Head to REVOLTSummit.com for more info and to get your passes now!
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