Sky's the limit for these singing twins

Music Notes

August 05, 2004|By Rashod D. Ollison

THOSE girls didn't care. There was absolutely no shame in their game. One night about a month or so ago, my friends and I were hangin' in a D.C. club as Nina Sky's "Move Ya Body" boomed through the place. Two women - ample-figured sistas with a "whole lotta junk in their trunk" - dominated the tight space in front of us. They were squeezed into short, unforgiving dresses, had kicked off their heels and were grindin', gyratin', lost in the music. Although my best friend Tiffany was unnerved by the sight of those cottage cheese thighs in wee-little dresses, I couldn't blame the sistas for breakin' it down on the floor. Nobody - not even ill-dressed folks in the club who really need to sit down somewhere - can resist the urge to dance when "Move Ya Body" comes on.

The infectious single, built on Cordell "Scatta" Burrell's "Coolie Dance" rhythm, is one of the hottest jams this summer, rocketing to No. 4 on the pop charts. Behind the hit are two beautiful 18-year-old identical twins: Nicole and Natalie Albino from Queens, New York. With such a massive hit - a percolating beat overlaid with the girls' silky, almost hypnotic harmonies - it's easy to dismiss the duo as a one-hit wonder. Their album, I figured, would feature that one smash and a load of filler.

Not so. Their self-titled debut is a strong one, thick with hardhitting beats, catchy hooks and impressive vocal work. Nina Sky will play Merriweather Post Pavilion Saturday along with Twista.

"We were very involved in the process of this record," says Nicole. She and her sister are calling from New York. "We wrote the whole album, the lyrics. We worked on the whole productions."

Natalie jumps in. "In the studio, everybody just kinda floated off the songs we wrote. Like, "Temperature's Rising" (a steamy ballad on the album), we had written that before we recorded the album. Like, I played the guitar riff, but someone else played it on the album."

"Our music is very important to us," Nicole adds, "so we were sure to represent through the record."

They represent the so-called independent women Destiny's Child sang about. The lyrical focus of the record is girl power - kicking no-good men to the curb with yesterday's garbage ("Let It Go"), encouraging girlfriends to leave abusive relationships ("You Deserve" featuring Miami soul queen Betty Wright), talking frankly about sexual desires ("Temperature's Rising").

With their beat-driven productions, the Puerto Rican sisters recall Zhane, the short-lived R&B duo from the '90s. But Nina Sky - "Nina" being the first two letters of each of their names, "Sky" standing for their aspirations - doesn't radiate the jazzy vibe Zhane had. Nicole sings alto, Natalie soprano, and together they sound pleasantly girlish. After all, they're just 18.

"We've been singing together since we were 7," Nicole says.

"Yeah, we wrote this song at 7 years old called 'Sisters,'" Natalie says.

The two break out into a cute little ditty, something about being there for one another.

"I had a rap in it and everything," Nicole says, laughing. Growing up, the twins were surrounded by music. Their stepdad, Luis Mejias, and their older brother, Nelson (aka DJ Will Divide), spun records in clubs around New York. (It was another DJ, Cipha Sounds from New York's Hot 97, who co-produced "Move Ya Body" and facilitated the twins' deal with Next Plateau/Universal Records.) In the house, Nicole and Natalie absorbed many styles: salsa, disco, hip-hop, reggae. And shades of each color the twins' debut.

"We always knew we wanted to sing," Nicole says.

"We want to, like, collaborate with other artists one day," Natalie says.

"Alicia Keys," Nicole offers.

"Andre 3000," Natalie suggests. "But right now we just wanna coast on what's happening for us now. We definitely don't wanna be one-hit wonders."

Nina Sky plays Merriweather Post Pavilion, 10475 Little Patuxent Parkway in Columbia, Saturday as part of the McDonald's Sessions at Merriweather. Show time is at 5:30 p.m. Tickets are $10 in advance and are available through Ticketmaster by calling 410-547- SEAT or by visiting www.ticketmaster. com.

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