Bold words, right? But you have to understand where I’m coming from.
Way back in 2014, I taught at a high school that managed to block just about every music app except SoundCloud. For me this was terribly unacceptable because my personal music library could only do so much. So I downloaded SoundCloud and made it work. At some point in the Fall of 2014, I found MNEK’s “The Rhythm” and my whole life changed.
Uzoechi Emenike was born on November 9th, 1994 in Catford, London, and wrote his first song at the age of 9. He signed his first publishing deal at age 14, and got his first hit at 19. By the time I got around to him, MNEK was 20 and looking to become the next big thing.
Now I know what you’re thinking: Eurydice, you thought Sam Smith was the greatest thing since sliced bread, and you’ve continuously waxed poetic about Allen Stone more times than we can count. What’s so special about MNEK?
I want to tell you that it’s his body of work. MNEK’s writing, vocal, and production credits are terribly long for someone who has yet to put out an album. Seriously, this guy has written for Beyonce and Madonna; he wrote the Karen Harding hit that I could not leave alone. He wrote Zara Larsson’s “Never Forget You”, but couldn’t completely give that one up so it turned into a duet. His first hit was a Gorgon City feature, “Ready For Your Love”, that I happen to only prefer this particular version of.
It could be that MNEK is very much a Carefree Black Boy™ (Or really, a Carefree British-born, Naija Boy), both in his music and in his personal style. When I was first introduced to MNEK, he was wearing a high-topped fade and had been carrying on a 90s style since 2011’s “If Truth Be Told”. Recently, he’s dreaded his high-top, but the 90s influence is still very much visible in his dress. It’s not the boldest choice, but it sets him apart from other singers out right now. You’re not going to mistake MNEK for anyone else.
What I like about MNEK, the thing that really makes him my greatest musical find, is his sound. I guess you could call it House R&B, but he’s perfectly fine doing regular R&B and EDM. I am very partial to MNEK’s voice because he’s comfortable in whatever range the song calls for; his highs, lows, and in-betweens are always on point to me. I’ve listened to enough of his refixes and songs produced by him to note that he prefers bass-heavy beats with a jazzy sound and a dance tempo. His slow jams sound like ballads, and he’s quite capable of making a pop hit, but most of the music he makes is going to be something that you can dance to, and I appreciate that.
MNEK – before Allen Stone, and with a much bigger impact than Sam Smith – is the artist that cemented my ability to recommend good music amongst my friend group. I’ve put quite a few of my friends on to this guy, and I’m proud to say that I’ve made them fans.
It’s hard to say what my favorite MNEK song is. “If Truth Be Told” is hard to find on SoundCloud, but it’s right there on iTunes, and is a necessary addition to his discography because it comes very early. I don’t know where “Don’t Call This Love” falls in his catalogue, but I adore that song for the lyrics and all of the runs that he does. “Never Forget You” with Zara Larsson deserves the radio plays it gets. I like Zara’s part, but I’m not sure that the song would have been as successful as a solo. And then there’s “At Night (I Think About You)”. I didn’t like this song at first, because I became aware of it during the Running Man Challenge. However, I listened to it a second time and then immediately had to buy it.
I have the entire Small Talk EP, and I’ve listened to just about every song on repeat. “The Rhythm” is the song that brought mee to the MNEK party. I feel like it’s necessary to turn the volume up when listening to it, so that you can really feel the bass. “Every Little Word”, “More Than A Miracle”, and “In Your Clouds” all have a 90s R&B feel, but it took a while for me to get into “In Your Clouds” because of the beginning. “Wrote A Song About You” is very poppy, but it’s very catchy. “Suddenly” is the slow jam of the bunch, and I think that it’s the best showcase of his vocal talent.
Again, it’s hard to pick a favorite, and I’m not even going to bother trying. In fact, I’ve deliberately made a playlist on SoundCloud for you, simply so that I won’t have to. Here, go listen to the 15 tracks I’ve collected and tell me which one you like.
MNEK is my greatest musical find because he’s a Carefree Black Boy™ out here making the kind of music that he wants to make. He is a credit to my personal music library, and would be a great addition to yours. He hasn’t quite broken into mainstream yet, but I think that it’s only a matter of time. MNEK is a musical genius, and he deserves to be great. So let him.