Everyone loves a sequel. So when we asked MNEK to bring the party, he unleashed the ‘MNEK Party part 2’ slap bang in the centre of Hackney.
Initially famed for his vocals on Gorgon City’s smash ‘Ready For Your Love’ and his own sleazy G-funk striptease of ‘Every Little Word’, we were very keen to see what else Uzoechi Osisioma Emenike had in his melodic lock-up.
It quickly transpires that MNEK trucks with the funk. And he also seems to have been secretly coached by Beyoncé on the art of how to spin out a journey for his adoring fans. You can almost feel the call of the Pyramid Stage drifting above his music as the 19-year-old struts and wiggles his way through a rollercoaster of bangers and ballads.
After an intro piece and the oscillating energy of ‘Until The End’, MNEK reveals a medley of slick R&B covers. Taking a cue from Rosie Gaines on ‘Closer Than Close’ and ‘Never Leave You’ by Lumidee, this homage riles his front row floozies into a drooling MTV trance.
With a pair of backing vocalists, a guitarist so facially animated we suspect he’s double dropped during soundcheck, and a shy but effective keyboardist and drummer, the MNEK road show is nimble and tight.
His shit is clearly together. From his impeccably run SoundCloud deployments and art direction to his mobile projectionist blasting colourful social media hashtags across the venue walls at will, the world’s towns all now presumably await this party machine rolling through, bringing hooks and drops aplenty.
And Emenike seems happy to treat the world like a stage, and the stage like his own lounge. He is comfy. He is endearing and splashes camp charisma around every time he addresses the crowd like friends. It’s quite the counter to some of the more genetically modified pop stars currently occupying the public eye.
After the requisite Gorgon City track is aired, Chase & Status collaborator Moko joins him on stage. Their track is based upon a massive vocal interchange called ‘Judgement Day’, MNEK’s next single and another narrative exploration of the theme of destiny that brings the evening to its pop zenith.
Sit tight, MNEK is coming for you, and it’ll be hard to miss him.
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Words Matthew Bennett
Pictures Carys Lavin
Related: Next Wave: MNEK