- Words Sunnie Fraser
As she drops her catchy new single “Same Old”, Notion reflects on the deserved rise of South London rapper, singer, songwriter and shining star, ENNY.
South London’s most poignant lyricist, ENNY, has quickly ascended to become one of the most exciting figures in the current UK music scene. The vibrant raconteur’s silky flows complement the potency of her conscious storytelling, and in just a year since her debut, she has made radical waves and become a beacon of positivity within the community.
As the first signing on Jorja Smith’s label FAMM, the sheer speed of ENNY’s success speaks to her undeniable talent. The rising creative emits an addictive energy with her sweet disposition. You can’t help but smile while observing her spit her effortless wit. Above all else, ENNY comes across as someone you’d like to be friends with.
Her first release, “He’s Not Into You”, was an honest portrayal of unreciprocated love. The snappy and relatable track revealed ENNY’s vulnerability, a sensation that is all too familiar for those of us who at one time desired another. Through the melancholy of heartbreak, though, we are first introduced to ENNY’s incessant optimism. This beautiful irony is a motif that is echoed throughout her discography. The upbeat, jazzy track, with its tongue-in-cheek truths, is an appropriate introduction to the beam of light that is ENNY.
Next came “For South”, a soulful ode to coming of age in collaboration with musician Nix Northwest. The track was part of ‘The Silhouettes Project’, a platform for up-and-coming talent in the jazz, soul and hip-hop realm. The relaxed piano instrumental sits alongside the seamless delivery of ENNY’s softly spoken bars, true to her distinctly laid-back vibe.
A turning point came with ENNY’s single “Peng Black Girls” featuring Amia Brave. This sensationally potent tune is a dedication to the multifaceted beauty of Blackness, so naturally, it soon became an emblem of the joy of being a modern Black woman [“Dark-skinned, light-skinned, medium-toned”]. The song’s versatility allowed it to evolve into a manifesto of sorts, speaking to a wide scope of women of colour in and around the capital. The magnetic allure of Blackness is seldom celebrated within the popular media landscape, but ENNY and Amia defied this and chose to speak their truth. Even contemporarily, it is not uncommon for women of colour to be praised for European attributes and encouraged to conform to these beauty standards. Here, however, ENNY and Amia are affirming the indisputable blessings that are melanin and hair kinks [“Permed tings, braids, got minis afros/ Thick lips got hips some of us don’t/ Big nose contour some of us won’t/ Never wanna put us in the media bro”].
Back in December, Jorja Smith jumped on the track to create the “Peng Black Girls Remix”, resulting in ENNY’s subsequent rapid rise to fame. The wildly successful collaboration, which debuted on COLORS, caused ruptures amongst fans of the original. The controversy surrounding the remix was ignited by conversations about the erasure of Amia. Many women of colour began to raise concerns about the politics of replacing a dark-skinned artist with one of a fairer complexion as a way of making it more palatable. In conversation with gal-dem, Amia spoke on a familiar lack of mindfulness from certain decision-makers. “Why couldn’t I be on the remix?” she asks. She does not, however, believe it was the fault of ENNY or Jorja. ENNY told Crack that “It took a proper left”, and admitted that the optics of the situation made it appear worse than it was. “She was inspired and she wrote something beautiful”, is ENNY’s take on the organic collaboration between her and Jorja. And it’s true, Jorja’s verse is weighty and embodies the spirit of the track.
In consequence of the controversy, the song opened up a conversation that needed to be had. Unintentionally, ENNY’s music created an interesting discourse around some important issues that are more deep-rooted than the “Peng Black Girls Remix” alone. “We gon’ be alright, ok”, a tender reminder that despite it all the power of black female energy will prevail.
ENNY has now graced us with her latest single, “Same Old”. The track, released on FAMM, is reminiscent of Lauryn Hill-tinged 90s soul combined with powerful poetic meditations of the complexities of life as a Black, female South Londoner. The melodic beat underpins the gospel-flecked chorus and provides a melting-pot for ENNY’s eclectic range of musical influences. The track is captivating, so much so that it is the kind of catchy that warrants continuous repeats without ever getting dull.
Her critique of social media, gentrification and the hardships of capitalist city life perpetuate “Same Old” and speak to the ubiquity of the black experience. If you are a young Brit with a slither of social awareness, the essence of this lyrical commentary will resonate. “Fuck you and your gentrification”, she exclaims. A familiar sentiment for any city dweller.
“I saw the truth, I had to face it”. “Same Old”, like “Peng Black Girls”, retains an undertone of hope and bliss amongst all the madness. The message speaks to the resilience of women of colour and the unique ability to elevate. Throughout history, black women have built livelihoods and communities even when the odds were stacked significantly against them. ENNY is an emblem of what it is to be black and female in the UK today. She has carried through that very same energy of those who came before her, she is tired of the same old and is going out of her way to let it be known. ENNY’s social discourse affirms the prominent comradery of otherness.
ENNY says of “Same Old”: “There are so many beautiful moments and feelings attached to this track from the moment it was created and I hope that anyone that listens to it is able to experience that energy when they hear it”.
ENNY’s emergence to the scene comes after a year of widespread conversations on the intersections of race and gender. As a lyrical activist, she is cultivating music with substance. Arriving at a period of significant social upheaval, she is uplifted by a woke generation that wants to experience real cultural shifts. To put it simply, ENNY is special. It is rare to come across an artist who is prepared to speak so unapologetically about the collective experience of black womanhood, with such an inspiring eloquence. The authenticity in her message shines through and reminds women who look like her that it’s okay to remain true to themselves.
ENNY has infiltrated the male-dominated space of UK hip-hop/rap at a moment when we were so hungry for someone responsive to the adversities of Black womanhood. We are no stranger to persistent misogynistic lyricism within the genre and, finally, emerges a new generation of conscious female rappers like ENNY who sit comfortably and defiantly amid the patriarchal industry.
She represents elements of Black femininity that have been left out of the conversation. With mainstream discourse hyper-sexualising women of colour and gaslit critiques of Black women as unnecessarily chippy, ENNY sits elsewhere. Her perspective is conventional of the contemporary young Black woman and this sense of familiarity has developed her monumental impact. She remains so definitively true to her roots and uses this backdrop as a catalyst for her earnest musical narratives. As ENNY illustrates, women today are equally concerned with Brexit as “falling for the same old boys”.
Greatness exudes the British Nigerian visionary, but despite it all, ENNY is humble, maintaining the air of an introvert. She is a woman who oozes a coolness that makes you feel somewhat connected to her art. The unadulterated sincerity of her selfhood supports the intimate space she has created for likeminded women who can connect with her sound.
We needed ENNY and for ENNY, we are grateful.