We know D.C. Get our free newsletter to stay in the know.

Tonya Pointer couldn’t have picked a more appropriate MC name. As Nonchalant, the 23-year-old D.C. native exudes the quiet confidence her sobriquet implies. Having experienced massive success with her first single, “5 O’Clock,” Pointer is currently promoting the new single and title track from her debut album, Until the Day, a song she admits isn’t taking off as fast as she’d like. “‘Until the Day’ isn’t getting the immediate response of ‘5 O’ Clock,’ and one reason is because the mix show jocks say it isn’t a bangin’ club song. [‘Until the Day’ is] a little bit harder to get across to them [than ‘5 O’Clock’] so we have to come with remixes,” Pointer explains. But she’s dedicated to rising above the ubiquitous ranks of flash-in-the-pan rappers. “Your second and third single is just as important—more important—than your first. Especially if your first is the bomb, like ‘5 O’Clock’ was, and they’re wondering what she’s going to come with next,” Pointer says. “If it’s not phenomenal, you’re looked at as a one-hit wonder. But ‘Until the Day’ is not about the bangin’ beat, it’s about what I’m saying in the song. But I’m not gonna leave you hanging, I’m gonna come with some bomb remixes. Just wait for those. Audiences are funny. You have to pay attention. You can’t just throw something out there.”

Pointer’s mixture of R&B crooning and hard-nosed rapping is a successful formula on Until the Day, but some listeners claim a “real” rap track doesn’t have singing on it. Pointer swiftly rebuffs that argument. “Some people don’t feel like R&B and hiphop belong together. But they are already together because you’re sampling old R&B records to get hiphop. So I don’t even listen to that,” she says. Besides, Pointer started off as a singer, and when her main producers, Blak Productions, heard her freestyling they wanted her to rap as well. But Pointer does admit that mixing soul and hiphop is often a stab at commercial play. “I do think it’s hard when a person is just rapping and then, boom, all of a sudden the next album is predominantly singing. Or if they were singing and all of a sudden they were rapping all over the album. I think of a good example of it being well done is Queen Latifah. She wasn’t singing on her first album, but she weaned you on it. It wasn’t such a jolt, like with Eddie Murphy!”—Christopher Porter