Contemporary R&B duo VanJess -- formed by sisters Ivana and Jessica Nwokike -- put a '90s-inspired twist on their soulful sound.
Raised in both Nigeria and California, the pair takes inspiration from '90s acts like SWV, Jodeci, and Brandy, further incorporating flavors from Da Brat, En Vogue, Jill Scott, Erykah Badu, and early TLC. From a young age, the siblings had a natural love for music, but it wasn't until high school that they made that passion public. In 2008, Ivana and Jessica began uploading videos of them singing cover songs of favorites by Beyoncé and Rihanna. However, it was their version of Drake's "Headlines" that went viral and attracted an audience. A five-song EP, 00 Till Escape, arrived in 2015, and VanJess began a steady stream of single releases and collaborations. First, the Nwokikes issued "I Don't Need Him." Then, in 2016, they released the downtempo "Adore" (which later received the remix treatment with Milwaukee rapper IshDARR), "Favor," and "Don't Be a Stranger." Collaborations with Korean-Australian singer Leehahn ("Fall Back") and Jamaican-American jazz artist Masego ("Touch the Floor") helped to boost their profile that year as well. In 2017, VanJess hooked up with rapper GoldLink for the '90s house-inspired jam "Through Enough." ~ Neil Z. Yeung