Making noise: If you're curious who the guys are behind the summer smash Am I Wrong, you're not alone: The single from Nico & Vinz, already a triple-platinum smash last year in their home country of Norway, ranks fifth in music identification app Shazam's Sounds of Summer predictions. Since debuting on American radio, Wrong has been making all the right moves, climbing to No. 18 on USA TODAY's top 40 airplay chart and No. 5 on iTunes top songs, while the accompanying video, shot in Botswana, has scored more than 13 million views on YouTube. "It's fun every time you see new people pick it up just to see how the song connects with them," says Vinz. "People can really take the message of the song, about searching for your own happiness and trying to follow your heart."
Remember the name: Am I Wrong may be the duo's first international hit, but Nico Sereba and Vincent Dery have been recording and performing together, initially under the name Envy, since 2009, notching their first success by taking home the top prize in the worldwide Emergenza Festival competition for new artists in 2011. Unlike most of their Norwegian contemporaries, they immediately began rapping in English. "We used to listen to rap from America, so that's what we imitated and that's what we learned from," says Nico, 23. "We felt like our English was good enough, so why not? We've always had the dream of making it (outside Norway), so it was a natural artistic decision for us to do it in English so we could reach out to other countries."
Searching for self: Before they could win over audiences internationally, Nico & Vinz had to tackle their own struggles with identity growing up in Oslo; Vinz's parents hail from Ghana, while Nico's father is from Ivory Coast and his mother from Norway. "A lot of children of immigrants go through that kind of questioning where you ask, 'Where am I from? Am I from this place or that place? How do I behave?,' " says Vinz, 23. "I battled with that a lot until I was 20, 21. Then I realized that everything that I am is exactly who I'm supposed to be, and my background is an advantage, if anything. I've got different cultures, I've got a broad understanding. I sort of embrace it more."
Mixing it up: After signing with Warner Bros. in January, they reintroduced themselves as Nico & Vinz and toned down their raps in favor of more singing. "We figured out that if we really want to reach out to the rest of the world, we need to figure out exactly who we are and give that to people," says Vinz. "We put all those elements together in the music, so when you listen, you hear that it has an African influence to it because we have roots in Africa. It has a Scandinavian pop melody and an urban touch to it as well because we used to rap a lot before."
Positive power: With its bright summer sound, eclectic influences and empowering lyrics, Am I Wrong gives listeners a taste of Nico & Vinz's ambitious plans for when album Black Star Elephant hits stores later this year."I may not have all the answers, but I know we can be a motivational force," says Nico. "If you can feel happy within yourself, you'll be able to change the people around you, and through that you can change the world."
Dream duet: As their single continues to win over new audiences, the duo hopes to catch the air of someone in particular: Kanye West. "I love his approach to music," says Nico. "I love the way he thinks. He's really innovative and it would be a cool thing to mix up our style with his and see what comes out of it."
#8 on the hot 100! coming for iggy's crown!