First Listen – MNEK Wants To Be “In Your Clouds”

Share this article

    At only 20 years old, Uzo Emenike, best known as MNEK (pronounced with each letter separately spoken), has become something of a UK phenom, one of the most unlikely of pop stars. Tall and awkwardly gangly, rocking a high top fade eraser and a big kid face that says best friend more than lover man; MNEK has quietly silenced all doubters to become the most exciting dance and soul wunderkinds of his generation. Already Grammy-nominated, the British born singer, songwriter, producer, and remixer of Nigerian descent has nine singles to his credit and has written and produced for everyone from Madonna and Kylie Minogue to Duke Dumont and The Saturdays. As a remix producer, you can add such stars as Duran Duran and Olly Murs to his resumé. MNEK has over 30 writing, producing, and backing vocal credits to his name and that’s just been since his seventeenth birthday (he turns 21 this year). 

    His collaboration with Gorgon City, “Ready for Your Love,” has already been a proven Top 10 dance smash in several countries. Signed to Virgin Records, the one thing MNEK doesn’t have is a full-length featured album. His flawless debut EP, Small Talk, released in March of this year, gets him closer to that goal. Three of EP’s singles are already UK charters, including “Every Little Word,” “Wrote A Song About You,” and most recently the Top 40 UK hit, “The Rhythm.” We decided to choose one of the lesser-known promo tracks to introduce MNEK to SoulTracks readers, one that finds MNEK in a more relaxed mood, flowing over a mid-tempo groove that mixes hip hop, New Jack Swing, dance, and soul. The nonsensical rap opening catfishes listeners into believing this is another radio millennial tune, but quickly dispenses with the charade and takes us to an otherworldly groove land where all the grown folks are invited to the party. Vocally surprising toward the end of every one of his cuts, MNEK lets the casual baritone sing-talking fool listeners until he lets loose at each of his song’s build. With MNEK, nothing is what it initially appears and with prodigious talent this great so young, you can bet the best is yet to come.  

    By L. Michael Gipson