The latest in a long line of young British artists who have launched their careers off the back of guesting on other people’s records (Sam Smith, John Newman, Foxes), London producer/ writer/vocalist MNEK has finally made the leap this year to go solo with a clever blend of classic and contemporary which draws upon the 80s electro-funk sound of Jam & Lewis while also fitting in neatly with the current deep house revival.
Resembling a long-lost member of Kid N’ Play (thanks to his hi-top fade haircut), the 19-year-old first began making music in his bedroom aged nine and had landed a publishing deal by the time he was 14. But he received his big break in 2011 when he was invited down to hit factory Xenomania’s studios, where he co-wrote the gloriously euphoric trance-pop of “All Fired Up,” a UK No.3 hit for girlband The Saturdays.
Sticking to behind-the-scenes, MNEK subsequently produced the debut singles from X-Factor graduates Little Mix (“Wings”) and Misha B (“Home Run”), co-penned the melodic hook for Duke Dumont’s Grammy-nominated dance anthem “Need U (100%),” and worked with drum n’ bass quartet Rudimental on four tracks from their chart-topping first album, Home (“Hell Could Freeze,” “Hide,” “Baby,” “Spoons”).
But having also performed on the latter two numbers, MNEK began grabbing some of the limelight for himself, lending his soulful tones to “Close,” the seventh release from Sub Focus’ sophomore, Torus, uploading a series of covers of female-led R&B classics to YouTube (Janet Jackson’s “That’s The Way Love Goes,” Lumidee’s “Never Leave You”) and writing an instrumental for a Nike Air Max Lunar campaign named “Lunar Riddim.”
His appearance on Gorgon City’s UK Top 5 hit, “Ready For Your Love,” production duties on Kylie Minogue’s album, Kiss Me Once, and future hook-ups with Diplo, Disclosure and Clean Bandit would suggest that MNEK has no intention of slowing down his collaborative output. However, after recently unveiling its first single, the buoyant New Jack Swing throwback of “Every Little Word,” the teenage prodigy claims that his forthcoming debut album will be a largely guest-free affair.