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CULTURE (7)

A guide to the black Brits doing cool things in 2017

CULTURE (7)

We’ve rounded up the young faces defining what it means to be black and British

As Black History Month draws to a close in the UK we're aiming to shine a spotlight on those driving things forward. #DazedBlackFutures is a tribute to the artists, activists, designers and key voices shaping black British culture for the next gen.

When Nina Simone sang “to be young gifted and black” it became an unintentional anthem for a generation of people who remembered that it was important to show the world what you have to offer. We want to keep shining a spotlight on homegrown black British talent. With that in mind, we handpicked names doing big things in 2017.

LEOMIE ANDERSON

Model Leomie Anderson has had a successful career that has seen her walk at the Victoria’s Secret show as well as one of the faces of the new Fenty Beauty line. When she isn’t modelling, Anderson uses her platform to raise awareness about issues within the fashion industry – particularly around diversity and the mistreatment of models. She recently participated in a TEDxPeckham project where she spoke about her experiences as a model of colour. 

Text Dominic Cadogan

KING OWUSU

King Owusu is fast becoming one of most recognisable young black faces in the UK thanks to his modelling work. In the past year, he’s walked for brands like Alexander McQueenAnn Demeulemeester starred in the Pirelli Calendar among Naomi Campbell and RuPaul. But it is his illustration work – that takes inspiration from cartoons and TV shows like Naruto – that is his true passion. In addition to collaborating with Topman, he created the body illustrations on the models at Charles Jeffrey’s SS18 show. 

Text Dominic Cadogan

MOWALOLA OGUNLESI

Newly graduated from Central Saint Martins in menswear and print design, Mowalola Ogunlesi’s collections explore black, male sexuality. Taking inspiration from her Nigerian heritage, her graduate collection – entitled ‘Psychedelic’ – saw Lagos petrolheads take to the runway and the accompanying lookbook that Ogunlesi later released, saw her collaborate with black creatives Ib Kamara and Ruth Ossai

Text Dominic Cadogan

BIANCA SAUNDERS

Menswear designer and recent RCA graduate Bianca Saunders is one of the few black British women taking on men’s fashion. Her contemporaries, in as much as they exist, can be counted on a few fingers. Saunder’s second collection, Personal Politics came out this year and was an immediate hit. Saunders’ work is deeply thought-out and artistic, although she would hesitate to describe herself as an artist. But slowly, she’s moving in the direction where that label will be unavoidable, even if it’s one she doesn’t feel comfortable staking.

Text Charlie Brinkhurst-Cuff

MUNROE BERGDORF

Shot to worldwide notoriety after being dropped as L’Oréal’s first ever black, trans model, thanks to her (spot-on) comments about white supremacy in the wake of Charlottesville, Munroe Bergdorf has been pedalling hard on the activist scene for many years. Articulate, brave, and never afraid to take on some of Piers Morgan’s more heinous views on race, catch Bergdorf DJing and dancing the night away at her all-girl night Pussy Palace or on the waves at Radar Radio. We can sense that 2018 is going to be a big year for her.

Text Charlie Brinkhurst-Cuff

RUTH OSSAI

“Igbo/Yorkshire warrior” photographer Ruth Ossai is a genuinely exciting photography talent. Collaborating with Akinola Davies Jr on a project for Kenzo earlier this year, during which he said her work “makes me proud to be African and it’s important to see black women lead the way on documenting our cultures and communities”, Ossai is a contemporary of Dazed100 names like Campbell Addy and Ib Kamara – unapologetically black creatives leading the way and creating authentic, personal work that often speaks to their complex identities. 

Text Charlie Brinkhurst-Cuff

JENN NKIRU 

Her stunning video Rebirth is Necessary dropped on Nowness last month, but we’ve been following filmmaker Jenn Nkiru since she collaborated with Arthur Jafa on her beautiful dance-based video, En Vogue. Her next big output is New Transmissions, a night of screenings and discussion celebrating POC and women artists happening this Wednesday. The evening will begin with a showcase of films from leading black talent including Cecile Emeke, Stephen Isaac Wilson and Yero Timi-Biu.

Text Charlie Brinkhurst-Cuff

PAULA AKPAN & NICOLE CRENSTIL (BLACK GIRL FESTIVAL) 

This past weekend Paula Akpan, co-founder of the I’m Tired project and gal-dem’s social media editor, and Nicole Crentsil, creator of Unmasked Women, pulled off a massive event: the UK’s first ever Black Girl Festival. It was a vibrant display of the brilliance and supportiveness of the British black community. And as Akpan told Dazed: “This is needed because black British women are never truly celebrated for just existing in a world that places us at the bottom of the heap.” We’re already looking forward to next year.

Text Charlie Brinkhurst-Cuff

KOJEY RADICAL

Although 24-year-old Kojey Radical played his first headline show less than two years ago, he was nominated for two MOBOs last November, and has released two EPs to rapturous critical acclaim. His latest effort, In Gods Body, is a Dazed favourite. Relatively genre-less, it sits somewhere between grime-y hip hop and alternative rap, with a generous helping of spoken word. Radical started scribbling poetry in college, before studying illustration at the London College of Fashion and switching to music in his final year. He is also the founder of PUSHCRAYONS creative collective and the art director of menswear brand Chelsea Bravo. We’re expecting more nominations in 2018.

Text Charlie Brinkhurst-Cuff

SARRA WILD

Not enough attention is paid to our black fam doing bits up north, but Sarra Wild, a DJ, promoter and boss of club night and collective OH141 in Glasgow, turned that around this year after she called out Boiler Room for censoring comments she made on race in their recent Glasgow’s New Wave documentary. Boiler Room eventually apologised. Meanwhile, with OH141 – which has blossomed from a club night to a radio show, a host of panel discussions, DJ workshops – she has managed put together an extra-special all-black line up feat. Dazed’s very own political editor at large, GAIKA, for an upcoming club night in November, Gaika: The Spectacular Empire.

Text Charlie Brinkhurst-Cuff

HAMED MAIYE

Artist and curator Hamed Maiye had a bold aim this year: to coin a term, Afro-Portraitism, and use it to describe a facet of what seems to be a surge in black creativity in the UK and beyond. It explores the art of portraiture within the African diaspora, taking all the connotations portraiture has carried throughout history and applying them to today’s social climate. His next exhibition |Transmission|, curated by Thandi Mbire, is taking place this Wednesday, is an interdisciplinary project, bringing the work of emerging London-based artists together through their explorations of movement, communication and cultural exchange.

Text Charlie Brinkhurst-Cuff

RONAN MCKENZIE

In 2015, freelance photographer, filmmaker and stylist Ronan Mckenzie curated ‘A Black Body’, an exhibition at Doomed gallery in Dalston that challenged the sexualisation of the black body in mainstream media. Her magazine HARD EARS published in December 2016, placed the eminent Nick Knight alongside up and coming photographers like Ruth Ossai. More recently, Mckenzie has been working on a personal series called ‘Girls’ that aims to create an honest document of her subjects that feel natural and relatable in spite of their highly stylised contexts.

Text Ali Wong

SOPHIA TASSEW

At her recent exhibition Sophia Tassew, 20, marked the walls with the poignant words: “You have the right to riot”. It’s a mission statement of hers and it’s the driving force behind her work. Having worked as the former art director for FCB Inferno, Tassew has debuted her own works which she told Dazed earlier this year is inspired by subcultures and marginalised groups in order to make the creative scene feel less exclusive. Her curated exhibitions have taken on the riot grrrl punk ethos but reapplied it to the modern day experiences of women of colour and have included the art of up and coming names like Joy Miessi and Hanecdote.

Text Kemi Alemoru

MATA MARIELLE

Nineteen-year-old Mata Marielle is enviably defiant. When she saw that there weren’t enough sheer nude lip colours on the market she channelled her frustration into the creation of Mata Labs, which specialises in nudes with brown undertones. And when speaking to the UAL undergraduate she is clearly confident in her vision and the quality of her homemade cruelty-free glosses for people of colour. “My brand is going to make £1 million by the time I leave university,” she says assertively before laughing. Given the fact recently worked on editorials for Paper and Dazed, with artists like Mabel and Kojey Radical as well as model Selah Marley, with her career is still in its infancy, Marielle’s star is certainly rising.  

Text Kemi Alemoru

IAMDDB

When you think of Manchester’s music scene you think of the lingering legacy of Madchester, broody frontmen and massive warehouses - if you think of it at all. But with her jazz-tinged vocals and influences from everything from samba to Bob Marley, IAMDDB is breaking the mould and putting the city and a new soundscape on the map. The 21-year-old has described herself as “chill AF but crazy” which is not dissimilar to the vibe of her recent track “Shade” which shows off her distinctively smooth vocals on a trap beat and her bad bitch braggins skills which see her talk about getting “uber uber everywhere”.

Text Kemi Alemoru

NADINE IJEWERE

When looking through the portfolio of Nadine Ijewere, the most striking thing that ties her work together - apart from breathtakingly beautiful - is the diversity of her models and the conversation starting topics. Given her own mixed heritage (she’s both Jamaican and Nigerian) it’s clear that Ijewere has a passion for highlighting issues: whether that’s her recent shoot dismantling stereotypes, her gal-dem cover of Ray BLK or her Dazed exclusive shoot exploring the complex world of black women’s hair each highly stylised shoot is eye-catching.

Text Kemi Alemoru

ABONDANCE MATANDA

Drawing on her own experiences of growing up in London, Abondance has a way of accurately echoing her reality right down to her loyalty to the language of “road gals”. Her distinctive speech style verses have the wit and poignancy of any poem written in standardised English but in refusing to conform she legitimises her own experiences and those of others from her area. An admirer of 70s punk publications, Matanda disseminates her own poetry in much the same way and occasionally hosts event launches which are part-exhibition and part-live performances. She also co-organised an event with Road Gals LDN working to document the women in grime and hip-hop.

Text Kemi Alemoru

NADIA ROSE

Grime artist Nadia Rose, who is Stormzy’s cousin, shot to fame with the hard-edged anthem “Skwod” which was recently used by protesters from UK-based feminist group Sisters Uncut and Black Lives Matters to empower themselves in their fight against a fascist anti-immigration march. The rapper is herself a Croydon local and the video is filmed there. Her debut EP Highly Flammable was released this year and led to her name gracing the BBC Sound of 2017 shortlist.

Text Ali Wong

MAXIMILLIAN DAVIS

Model and Designer, Maximilian Davis graduated in Womenswear at the London College of Fashion this year. In our recent print issue, we featured his first collection in a shoot by Andrea Artimisio and styled by Gary David Moore. The collection itself is filled with a romanticism that draws its influence from the northern Renaissance and the works of visual artist, Markus Schinwald.

Text Ali Wong

EJATU SHAW

A student of Architecture at the University of Edinburgh, Ejatu Shaw has developed a following for her photography – in particular – her highly stylised portraits. Shaw’s photography attempts to capture a sense of nostalgia for the 70s, in particular, the way in which black people of that era disregarded western standards of beauty and embraced their natural hair. The photographer’s recent ‘Abolished’ series, takes an intimate look at the “effects of institutional racism on the mental health of black men”.

Text Ali Wong

CHANTÉ JOSEPH

Championing the movement for the changing face of politics is Chanté Joseph, the 21-year- old who is proving that she can make political change whilst being very black and very female. It’s hard to imagine a-day-in the life with Joseph as she wears so many different hats and capes. She recently completed a stint at Google and writes for likes of gal-dem and Crack Magazine, all while founding ‘Bristol is the new Black’ – an initiative that raises awareness of the black people who are shaping culture in Bristol. In her own words: “change doesn’t happen in your comfort zone.”

Text Naomi Grant