UK pop icon Jesy Nelson boldly announces her arrival with the massive solo debut single “Boyz,” which samples Sean “Diddy” Combs’ classic anthem “Bad Boy 4 Life” and features Nicki Minaj.
Released via Polydor, Jesy’s comeback has been hotly anticipated by fans since her departure from BRIT award-winning girl band Little Mix at the end of 2020.
Jesy has acknowledged in jest that many thought her return would be a ballad – something to tease a new direction and get the tastemakers on-side, but those assumptions have been proven false.
Jesy isn’t wasting any time on subtleties. Channeling the in-your-face swagger of the 90s and early 2000s US hip-hop and R&B that she grew up on, Jesy flips Diddy’s 2001 anthem “Bad Boy 4 Life” into a reflection on the men she’s attracted to, complete with a verse from rap megastar – and former collaborator – Nicki Minaj who declares the reunion of “the UK baddie and the Barbie!” There are fewer ways to make a more monumental introduction than to recruit Queen Nicki herself to tap in with a verse.
A clear statement of intent for her forthcoming solo work, “Boyz” sees Jesy seizing control of her own narrative: conceptualized and co-written by Nelson following a particularly painful break-up. The idea for the sample came while Jesy was suffering from heartbreak, reflecting on the type of boys she finds herself attracted to.
“‘Why do I like bad boys, what is wrong with me? Why am I attracted to anyone that looks naughty?’” she recalls thinking. “So I messaged [production duo Loose Change] and was like ‘you’ll think I’m a nutter but I really want to write a song about why most women like bad boys and I want to use the Diddy song’ and they were like ‘let’s do it’.” With results like these, there’s nothing nuts about Nelson’s decision, only the bold assertion of an up-and-coming superstar.