Throughout their evolution, poet, artist and musician Mykki Blanco kept blurring genres – incorporating rave, trap, grunge and punk influences into a swirling pool of experimental hip hop that celebrated queer and trans experiences. .
Their new full album Stay Close To Music, available today via Transgressive, is unlike anything they’ve released before. Adventurous and expansive, it shatters all previously held assumptions about Mykki’s artistry, leaving them free to define their sound for themselves.
Calling Mykki a “genre-erasing maverick”, NPR’s All Songs Considered included the LP in their “top releases today” podcast and called it an “Afro futuristic hip-hop album”. Fader calls the album “a whole new dimension of the Mykki Blanco sound”. Brooklyn Vegan says the album, “is all over the place in the best way, seamlessly incorporating art pop, rap, soul, innovative electronics, and a variety of other experimental subgenres…it’s is Mykki’s most musically ambitious album to date.”
Pitchfork listed Stay Close To Music on its “Most Anticipated Albums of Fall 2022 list” and the album was included in “Notable Albums” this week by Stereogum and Paste.
Stay Close To Music’s powerful track “Carry On,” which features Jónsi (Sigur Ros), was beautifully captured by director Barbara Anastacio in a video that follows the story of an HIV-positive African refugee, a queer immigrant seeking asylum in southern Europe.
Blanco explains, “One of my career goals when it comes to my visuals is to tell stories and portray scenarios of queer life that are very real but rarely addressed. Is there room to be queer when you’re a refugee seeking refuge? have you had to choose between being black and being queer? are you cut out to live a double life in this new country, this new world, is it even important to be openly queer when you’re fighting against white supremacy? It’s a visually charged one and it plays on those intersectional themes.”
“‘Carry On’ is a song of hope, as much as a song of victory.” Blanco continues, “Black and Gay, I wonder if they’ll ever claim us HIV, I have HIV, can I still be famous, will they wait until I’m dead to give me credit, these thoughts run through my head, I try and kill them and just bless God instead, start ‘Keep going’.
Oh Mykki Blanco, the words, the headlines they’ve used to describe you over the years: Mykki Blanco the transsexual rapper, Mykki Blanco the gay rapper, HIV-positive rap star Mykki Blanco. When I was a new artist in 2012, the world was a very different place. I faced so much transphobia, homophobia, I literally had to kick and scream to be heard, fight to be legitimized, while my music, my music video messages, themes, never-before-seen aesthetics and juxtapositions were labeled too taboo for mainstream audiences.
Most pioneers seldom enjoy the fruits of what they pioneered. I helped create the culture we live in now, I don’t need to be modest about the truth, I’ve been told to ‘stay in my place’ for most of my 10 year career . This album represents the beginning of the second half of my career.”
On Stay Close To Music, Mykki created her own sound universe from scratch. To facilitate this, they collaborated with producer and multi-instrumentalist FaltyDL, who allowed them to imagine new soundscapes built from lush live instrumentation. “It just transported me,” they admit. “It allowed me to dream in a way that I had never dreamed with my own composition. All of a sudden, I felt like I had this template where I could make this sound my own. .”
The songs toured together through numerous jam sessions, with writing taking place in Lisbon, Paris, New York, Chicago and Los Angeles. In 2019, Mykki realized that they were working on two different records simultaneously. The first became 2021’s lauded mini-album Broken Hearts & Beauty Sleep and now Mykki is releasing the sessions’ second collection through Stay Close To Music. Throughout the album, Mykki collaborates with an array of groundbreaking artists such as Michael Stipe, Saul Williams, ANOHNI, Diana Gordon, Devendra Banhart, MNEK, Jónsi and many more.
Mykki Blanco is an artist revered for her fearless ability to evolve, placing her creative exploration at the forefront of her career. With Stay Close To Music, Mykki Blanco takes it to the next level. Stepping into uncharted territory, unattached and free, they have realized their ambitions and created a rich, complex and accomplished sound that is entirely theirs and only solidifies their status as the world’s most innovative musical pioneers.
Listen to the new single here:
Watch the new music video here: