Last week, Capitol Records released Language, the debut album from MNEK. The 23-year-old U.K. artist already has one billion streams to his name, between his early material and wider collaborations. After writing and producing for such artists as Beyoncé, Dua Lipa, Little Mix, Madonna, Diplo, MØ, Rudimental, to name a few, MNEK now puts his formidable talent in the service of his own artistic vision.
“This album for me is not just about making records,’ MNEK explains. “It’s not just about having hit singles. I think it’s really about rectifying that thing which, for me, I just never had someone to look up to.” He points out that the brilliant white gay pop stars at pop’s top table today had a brace of icons to walk in the footfall of – from Elton John and Freddie Mercury through Pet Shop Boys, Boy George and George Michael. “Then you get to Luther Vandross. Amazing. So talented. But he never came out because of fear of religion and his mum,” says MNEK. “I saw that and I thought I don’t want to be like that. The black experience is a different one. I needed someone to hear my truth from.”
Language is an album that subverts all preconceptions, cleverly playing on its own extensive pop knowledge and reframing it as something brand new. When the familiar sample from Ultra Nate’s “Free” is chopped and screwed through “Paradise,” two tracks later MNEK presents his own utopian song called “Free.” These little touches are its making. NPR Music featured Language in it’s All Songs Considered program as an ‘Album You Should Hear Now’ and stated, “The way [MNEK] creates R&B in a pop context is so exciting.”
MNEK signed his first publishing deal at age 14. “Never Forget You,” his duet with Zara Larsson, topped Billboard’s Hot Dance/Electronic Songs chart and has been certified 3x Platinum in the U.S. He featured on Duke Dumont’s “Need You (100%),” which earned a GRAMMY® nomination for Best Dance Recording. The list of artists MNEK has written and produced for includes Beyoncé, Dua Lipa, Little Mix, Madonna, Diplo, MØ, Rudimental, Julia Michaels and Stormzy, to name but a few.