Being born in the early 90s, I am young enough to remember life before smart phones, when children played out and used their imagination. But now I'm at a point in my life where I can not bear to stay away from my iPhone XS for a long time. Growing up during this period gave me a very different perspective from that born at the beginning of the 80s or at the beginning of the 2000s, particularly when it comes to music, and the music I listened to as a child has influenced who I am and I have had an impact on my musical tastes today I remember the days of the power of the girls, of the Britpop movement and probably of the best contemporary R & B music of all time. The end of the 90s was also an incredible time for the rebirth of bubblegum pop artists, such as Spice Girls, Backstreet Boys, Britney Spears and * NSYNC, just to name a few.
But where were the openly bizarre pop stars of the 90s?
Going out during this period was a very political act. Not many people have been able to do it without endangering their careers. Pet Shop Boys is the singer Neil Tennant, the singer-songwriter Elton John, Wham! frontman George Michael and the Boy George of the Culture Club were all vague about their sexuality in the early stages of their careers, which is not surprising considering it was a deeply homophobic period after the AIDS crisis.
Being a gay black gay, African, born and raised in London, I rarely feel exactly represented in the mainstream media. Historically, there has been a very bad representation of the positive black male moving away from negative stereotypes – and even less so if they are gay. I always felt a bit like black rappers and R & B singers, but they were never gay. When it came to artists with non-conforming gender identities or ambiguous sexualities, there were artists like Prince and Michael Jackson, but again, neither was gay.
Things could change slowly, but when I was younger, there was no one around who I felt was anything like me. I have not met anyone who was like me up to 21 years. I've never seen anyone in magazines like me, I've never seen anyone on TV like me, and I was not even listening to pop artists who were like me. And I definitely I've never seen anyone like me on the cover of an album, until now.
I had the honor of honoring the cover of the singer, songwriter and record producer of the British-Nigerian, the long awaited debut album of the MNEK Language. Embracing it and offering honest visibility and representation of the Queer Black Men, language it is solid and sonically cohesive, full of traces on the love of puppies, the liberation and survival of your first break.
When you feel invisible and you are so underrepresented in a massive way, there is something so exciting and powerful in experiencing the art that reflects you and your life. When MNEK is seen, I'm seen and it seems fucking fabulous. He is creating strange hymns and lives the dream of a life that many of us London children have had, but have never believed possible. It is breaking down the barriers in the music industry in a way that could have historical and cultural implications for the next generation of British queer people who feel confused or feel they do not belong. It was unbelievable to be part of such an important homosexual representation, adding to what the bizarre Black Men before us did. I had so much fun in the photo shoot, I felt very comfortable, everyone was so welcoming and I felt a strong sense of family on the set. It was nice to be close and personal with an artist that I deeply admire and was given the opportunity to tell him how proud I am of him.
When weird people are seen in the media, we are literally seen by society. We are no longer invisible. When other people see us represented, they will find it easier not only to understand each other better, but to understand who we really are, by creating a change in social consciousness to include people other than different backgrounds. When we see the representations of ourselves in the media, it promotes a strong sense of affirmation of our identities, increasing the feelings of self-esteem, changing the feelings that there is something wrong with just being ourselves, and breaking the belief that being gay is a "white thing." Society can often send us the message that if we are invisible and if we do not exist, then it does not matter, but visible and visible artists like MNEK are helping to change all this. The existence of MNEK as a British and not ostentatiously gay British pop star is undoubtedly not only political but revolutionary.
Three years ago, after being honored as a revolutionary artist of Attitude Magazine, MNEK said: "I want to be a model for young gays, I want to be what I did not see on TV and I want to be exactly the pop star I wanted to see".
He talked about how to be originally from a Nigerian initially publicly publicized as a very difficult gay man for his family, especially his father. He was told, "You should keep your private life private, not talk about being gay, but he said," I have to be myself, I have to be honest. The fact that I am an artist and a public figure is that I can be my true self, especially as a gay homosexual. "
I was asked to play MNEK's two-time love interest in the colorful and hilarious music video for her single "Girlfriend", which I was delighted with because it was not only my favorite song on the album, but my most played song of 2018. Filming was even more fun than the first one. I really met MNEK and his team in the last year, and it was interesting to have conversations about how our experiences are similar to black men, Africans, queer born and raised in London.
So much has changed since the years & # 90; In recent years there have been monumental developments for queer people in terms of legislative, social and political changes, as well as greater visibility and honest representation, but that does not mean we do not have a long way to go. The bizarre blacks are a minority within a minority, they live in a heteronormative society, white, devoid of visibility and representation. It is up to us to emphasize the intersection of sexuality and race, and the importance of providing evidence that there are multidimensional black gay men.
language is streaming now on Spotify! MNEK is also on tour in the United States and the United Kingdom! For more information. and tour dates, check here its official website.