Jay-Z’s latest protégée, Rita Ora, did something most artists don’t get the luxury of doing anymore. She took two years off, after Jay signed her to Roc Nation, to live her life and find inspiration to write her debut album.

Ora sat down with CBS Local to talk about finding her voice.

“I got signed to Roc Nation when 18. I’m 21 now so it took me, yeah, two years to literally write, scrap things, write again, scrap things. I just didn’t know what I wanted to talk about.”

It’s understandable. The Kosovo-born, British-bred artist wanted to live her life more before she started writing songs.

“I didn’t know what I wanted to speak about. I didn’t have anything I felt was important enough for people to hear. You can imagine, I was frustrated. I’d go in and out of the studio. But I was lucky to have even two years to do an album.”

And once inspiration struck, Ora became unstoppable.

“I would just write, write, write, write, write and sometimes take a week break. I would never force it. Almost an epiphany. It was literally simple things. Going out with your friends, speaking with your family. Being inspired by things you wouldn’t usually expect to happen you know? Dramas going on in your family, boy drama, anything. Art, other music. I would just listen to a lot of music.”

Ora says getting involved with Roc Nation and Jay-Z also helped her broaden her musical horizons. She says the team there helped introduce her to all kinds of music and artists she’d previously been unaware of.

“…I never knew anything about the ’60s, ’50s, I never even knew about it. I did my research and I kind of got lost in the world. It’s so interesting to see how music evolved. He [Jay-Z] just opened my eyes. Even to hip hop artists that I never…you know, like old school hip hop artists.”

Ora’s learning curve continues and she’s always on the look out for that next piece of inspiration.

“Anything people want to say to me about music I’m open to listen to because you just never know what’s going to hit you.”

See the influence below in her video for “How We Do (Party) and get the track on Amazon.”

-Courtney E. Smith, CBS Local

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