Every week our new UK columnist Scott Wright gives you the latest and greatest in music from across the pond. This week he's sitting down with 14-year-old Mnek, as well as offering up a couple mp3s for free download.
In Britain we are obsessed by the exact ages of our popstars. Kermit-voiced shit peddler Duffy is routinely harangued for claiming to be in her early twenties when it’s obvious she’s as old as dirt (ie about thirty). Mnek will have to get used to people going on about his age too, but for entirely different reasons. He is 14-years-old and a genuine pop prodigy who writes and produces staggeringly good future smashes in his south London bedroom. Awesomely, he is on a mission to prove that “us black musicians can deliver something different than your ordinary ‘take your shirt off and dance like Michael Jackson affairs,” and calls Chris Brown a “stupid prick” on his MySpace.
I had a very entertaining chat with Mnek (pronounced em, en, ee, kay—his real name is Uzoechi Emenike) about Girls Aloud, Shakespeare and girlfriends.
Download: Mnek, "Devil in Pumps"
Download: Mnek, "Nose Job"
So you're 14. How's school?
It's cool, I guess, school is school...not very cool but one of those necessary evils!
When did you start producing tracks?
9 years old.
And you produced "Nose Job" and "Devil in Pumps?"
Yes, I did.
You make a point of saying you want to separate yourself from “black men who do R&B.” How would you describe what you're doing?
There are so many people just like that so I hope it's a refreshing change to have someone who just makes pop and cares about the music. Music is my vocation, I was born to do it. I won't bullshit and say, you know, I'm just doing it cos it's the "in thing," I genuinely love music. What I do is POP, bits of electro, bits of funk, bits of soul, but overall pop music.
What are your favourite pop jams at the moment?
I love “In For The Kill” by La Roux. I also really like "Boom Boom Pow" by the Black Eyed Peas, the video is the best I've seen all year. Lots of Frankmusik.
Have you spoken to many record labels? I imagine there must be quite a queue forming at your door.
Hahaha! I mean, at the moment, I'm not really thinking about them. I've had a few, but I just wanna get a publishing deal first, so I can be a songwriter and producer before I become a full-on artist.
Who would you like to work with?
Of course, Frankmusik! He's like THE man! The Saturdays, I love their sound. Just anyone who’s down. I would never write for Eoghan Quigg. He's a dickhead.
Who is the best member of Girls Aloud?
Sarah, in my opinion, is the best member. I love her brassiness, she's like what Geri was to the Spice Girls. She's not the best vocalist, definitely strong, but she brings life to the group.
Who are the girls you write about on "Devil in Pumps" and "Nose Job?"
Aaaaah, I see where this is heading! They're just songs! I'm 14 and I've only ever had one girlfriend and a million crushes!
On "Nose Job" you get Shakespearean, but in a clever way, not a One True Voice way. Tell us about how you wrote that song.
Oh, One True Voice were shocking! I was studying Romeo and Juliet at school and you know, my teacher was all like "Count Paris was the Capulet's man, but about as sexy as Napoleon Dynamite, so Juliet thought he was a knobcheese!". So I thought about that and I put a little Pinocchio into it and voila! "Nose Job!"
Have you played live yet?
I would love to, maybe this summer cos I've got too much studying to do.
And what are you up to for the rest of the year?
I would like to release an EP this autumn named Defying The Stars—The EP, another Romeo and Juliet snatch! And yeah, more writing. Check out my MySpace! So fingers crossed!