Something for the weekend, sir? OK, here is a new artist that’s gonna put the neon strips in your Saturday night. You’re going to love this recommendation – if you don’t you’ve lost your fun button – but there’s an underlying discussion point that’s something of an elephant in the room, so we may as well hit it straight on. This artist is only 16 years old! There. We. Said. It. That is exceptionally young by anyone’s standards and it raises the question – can you be too young to be credible?
Without intending to be in any way patronising is it hard for someone with such little life experience to be taken seriously? Songs about relationships and of love might suffer in the same way they would if you spoke to a 16 year old about their broken heart. Can you ever engage with them in the same way you would someone older? Thoughts of Michael Jackson as a very young child, or SClubJuniors and the like were even younger when they got a foothold, but somehow it seemed OK when the subjects on offer are about their ABCs, or their pets etc. There was also something slightly uncomfortable about thrusting people so young into the strength of pop’s limelight. However, there’s something different about MNEK.
Here is a solo artist, real name Uzo Osisioma Emenike (read his last name phonetically), who is genuinely delivering the one thing that overcomes any age distinction -talent. Earmarked by The Guardian as “one of the next generation of music producers” and by The NME as one of the “20 hottest producers in music right now” are major claims and so we perhaps find this new producer pushing through this early in his career purely because he’s so damn good at writing crossover, urban pop songs. It’s been claimed he’s began making music aged just 9 years old, so quite frankly he’s already been honing his talent for 7 years, and it shows! He may well be one for the future, but he’s able to deliver straight away.
His remixes have been catching people’s attention, with some excellent re-works for the likes of Frankmusik, Tinashe, Duran Duran, Florrie, Tinie Tempah and CocknBullKid – the latter of which he is sure to enjoy some comparisons, as they share a love of upbeat, soulful pop music that has it’s tongue firmly pressed in it’s cheek. As with every artist it will be with his original work that the real test will be applied and it’s fair to say there’s something genuinely magical on offer with the few songs available to date.
His tunes channel a mixture of camp disco and the synthetics of American clubs of the 80s, reminiscent of the same productions we used to get from Cameo or with Harold Faltermeyer. Auto-tuners are perhaps over-used, but it doesn’t feel like it’s there to disguise a lack of singing ability, rather it’s there to reflect his influences, much in the same way more modern adopters of this genre, such as Gamble and Burke or Chromeo, do so effortlessly. If Truth Be Told is perhaps the obvious contender for a first single and is due for a release on Moshi Moshi records on November 17th. Not a bad label to attract straight out of school.
We’ve been informed that DJ sets will soon be on offer as he takes his first few steps into the live circuits. Judging by his videos it feels like he’s pitching his entrance just right, with all pretentiousness removed and great big dollops of day-glo confidence being plonked in front of us. It’s hard to take your eyes off of him. Seeing as he already looks the part, is producing smart, enjoyable music and seems all set for an obvious pop marketplace then we see no reason why he can’t succeed. In fact it’s perhaps more friendly to state that he’s not too young, he’s just got more future in front of him than the rest of us. With a beginning this prodigious that future is bright, and most likely day-glo orange. (MB)
MNEK – IF TRUTH BE TOLD
MNEK – THE FRIEND PART