Enny: “People don’t really know how black women live in the UK – I want to tell that story”
Despite being a deflating year for musicians, 2020 did make a few stars. For most of us, we had all the time in the world to scour the web for brand new sounds for our washing up playlists; Enny was one such beneficiary. The Thamesmead artist’s breakout hit ‘Peng Black Girls’ put her on the world’s radar with a clean delivery and positive vibes to uplift black women (“There’s peng black girls in my area code / Dark skin, light skin, medium tone”), showing the world that there’s a different side to the UK than just catchy drill music.
And when NME last spoke to Enny – as ‘Peng Black Girls’ was going viral on TikTok with a remix featuring Jorja Smith – she revealed how the hit was inspired with the ongoing gentrification of her area in south east London, the strong black women in her life, and outlined a pro-community stance where instead of complaining about our respected industries, hometowns – “there needs to be more banding together amongst us”, she says.
Her pro-community stance combines with her own period of self-reflection. Her debut EP ‘Under 25’ – out July 16 – is a crucial piece of work for Enny; hitting the 25 milestone was initially a frightening prospect, but it was also the time when “everything started coming together” for the star. This EP is Enny’s way of telling her peers that it’s OK to grow up and that not everything happens when we want it to; her sweet tunes there to uplift on your own journey to greatness.
“A lot of this project was made during a transitional period of when I met like a lot of other artists initially just like making music alone,” Enny says speaking on Zoom. “It feels like a proper, collaborative kind of project. There’s been a lot of love and passion gone into it.” The EP isn’t just a showcase of her talent, but also “a lot of other people like producers and instrumentalists and other writers, so it feels more than just mine.”
This isn’t the first time Enny has played well with others. The second song she ever released, ‘For South’, a slow, clean-cut tune that shows off her lyrical talents, depicts her realisations of the world around her. It originated following her attendance of The Silhouettes Events, and with the people she met there; The star has alway been bringing along her people, and backs up her mission to “tell the story of someone from southeast London and take it to a wider audience.” So when you listen to the smooth jazz-inspired tunes on there, you’ll be transported to a nostalgic setting, especially if you love the simplicity of Loyle Carner, or the singer-rapper aspect like A2.
Enny’s voice, however, of a wise soul, is reminiscent of the golden age of hip-hop and its women empowerment movement. “It was really sick in hip-hop at that time,” she says. “There were so many different styles of female MCs and artists, like it wasn’t just one: there was Missy Elliott, Foxy Brown, and it was just diverse. I think that’s cool to see that happening again and I feel like it’s a really sick time for women in the industry. So many artists are being allowed to express themselves how they want.”
‘Peng Black Girls’, in particular, gives off the same vibes as rapping polymath Queen Latifah and her 1993 single ‘U.N.I.T.Y’. “There was a period of time where I fell in love with Queen Latifah, and just like the messaging of her music. I remember being 16 and hearing that song for the first time, I was like, ‘Oh, my God’. I think it’s great that she’s been recognised for her contributions to hip-hop. I feel like there’s a different energy from women when they rap. Men are more masculine with gangster rap, so when women came out and expressed themselves, it was cool.” Enny loves that the greats like Latifah and Lauryn Hill have paved the way for what we have now; when NME makes the suggestion that she could be the UK’s next Lauryn Hill, she’s smitten – this is the ultimate compliment, after all.
‘Under 25’ is yet more proof of UK rap’s strengths right now; perhaps many are not seeing it, but Enny may well be one to cut through. There are stars like Knucks, Che Lingo, BenjiFlow, who all have cult followings just like Enny’s, but they are getting overlooked by the current mainstream need for quick party songs and intense introspection. Enny feels that this “sick renaissance moment the UK is having” is falling short because there needs to be a place to recognise and a platform for this style of music. But then again, Enny wants you to remember that she “doesn’t want to blow up”, she “just wants to make music”. Her sound blowing up is just a bonus.
But, surely, there’s got to be some deeper mission in the work? Mainly, she wants to “take the music thing worldwide” to keep showing off the real London. The capital is forever changing, clamouring to keep up with worldwide hype and most of the time, it’s at the expense of the rich culture in its most populous areas including south London. And in doing so, she wants to show the world a true depiction of what it means to be a black woman in the UK.
“I think we know a lot of other people’s stories. We know how African-American women live. I don’t think many people really know how black women live in the UK or have an alternative image of how UK black women are so I want to represent that. I want to tell that story.”
Enny’s debut EP ‘Under 25’ is out July 16