MNEK - Language
Words Nick Levine
Uzo “MNEK” Emenike has contributed to more hits than you might realise: the talented south Londoner co-wrote Beyoncé’s Hold Up, The Saturdays’ All Fired Up and Dua Lipa’s IDGAF, among others, and teamed up with Zara Larsson for the top ten smash Never Forget You.
Now, after six years of balancing songwriting and producing work for other artists with his own music, he’s properly stepping into the spotlight.
This debut album is a box-fresh collection of contemporary pop-R&B which balances straight-up bangers with woozier mid-tempo tunes that sometimes recall Frank Ocean. It’s also clearly but unselfconsciously queer.
“Neither you nor your girlfriend’s straight,” MNEK winks on Girlfriend, a witty track about hooking up with a closeted straight guy that sounds a bit like a 2018 take on Mis-Teeq – i.e. completely infectious.
But whether he’s twisting Ultra Naté’s club classic Free into the melancholy bop Paradise or showing off his sensual side on Tongue, MNEK always feels real, cool and compelling; he’s the queer pop star of colour UK music needs.
When he says “stay fabulous, honey” on Correct, he could definitely be addressing himself.