South London R&B artist ENNY wraps her last 18-months up in her self-described “care package” EP We Go Again. 

The British singer and rapper initially received global acclaim for her anthemic and empowering breakout hit ‘Peng Black Girls’ featuring Amia Brave, and its succeeding remix with Jorja Smith in 2020. In the past few years, through GRM Daily Duppy and COLORS’ episodes and her nomination in BBC Sound of 2022, ENNY has risen to the top echelon of artists in UK’s golden generation of rap and R&B. 

On her latest EP, the soulful lyricist of Nigerian descent details her growth and development in the past year and a half as both a newly-established artist and a young woman of colour. With a short runtime of 16 minutes across six tracks, she injects her playful yet thoughtful lyricism and honeyed melodies into a mix of lo-fi electronic, soul, and hip-hop sonics. 

Equipped with previous releases ‘No More Naija Men’, ‘Champagne Problems’ and ‘Take It Slow’ featuring Loyle Carner, We Go Again also hosts a slew of production credits from Paya, Emil, Yogic, Baker Aaron, Beat Butcha and Linden Jay. We caught up with ENNY online, just prior to the release of her second project, to discuss her career journey, creative process and inspiring change through her music.

Matthew Craig: Can you tell us about your background and upbringing in London, and how it has influenced your music?

ENNY: Growing up in a town in southeast London surrounded by culture had a huge influence on my music from the stories to the sounds I tend to gravitate too. As the youngest in my family I was surrounded by so much of everyone’s individuality there’s nothing I could do but absorb.

When did you first realise that you wanted to pursue a career in music, and what were some of the biggest challenges you faced along the way?

I first realised I wanted to do music from a very young age, probably primary school. I think my parents could see the budding passion but by early teens I started to become shy so it always just felt like this cute idea that would be cool.

Your breakout single ‘Peng Black Girls’ has become an anthem for many women of colour around the world. What was your inspiration behind the song, and how has the response changed your life since its release?

‘Peng Black Girls’ was inspired by my observations and feelings. I’d began to internalise this ideology that black girls and women weren’t beautiful. And I remember just looking at pictures of black girls and thinking ‘Huh? Wait black girls are stunning, what’s going on here?’ And It brought me back to thinking of my friends when I was in secondary school. This group of blacks girls all different shades and vibes just existing.

Your music blends elements of rap, soul, and spoken word. Can you talk about your creative process and how you approach crafting your lyrics and melodies?

There is no creative process, I wish there was one it would make my life a lot easier. I always just liken it to a feeling, it’s an urge to write. And if I hear the right beat. It’s a given.

You’ve cited artists like Lauryn Hill, Mos Def, and Kendrick Lamar as some of your biggest inspirations. How have these artists influenced your music and style as a rapper?

They were just artists I grew up on or gravitated to, I love the art of storytelling in the form of music I like to listen. I think again I’ve just been a sponge.

Your 2021 EP Under Twenty Five showcases your versatility as an artist, with tracks ranging from introspective ballads to more upbeat, high-energy tracks. How do you balance these different styles and sounds in your music?

I think it goes back to upbringing, I’m a fan of all music generally. So I always want to find a way to kind of exist wherever whenever. It’s just like the human experience, it isn’t just one emotion.

Your music often addresses themes of identity, empowerment, and social justice. Why are these issues important to you, and how do you hope your music can inspire change?

I’m still learning what my music means to other people. For me it’s just venting and and daily observations of life. And I’m just blessed that I’m able spark conversations through that but the work should be more proactive on my part if I truly wish to make a change. I think anyone can put a lyric in a song but the question is are you really about it. 

Your music has resonated with audiences around the world, including in Australia. What do you think it is about your music that speaks to people from different cultures and backgrounds?

I think that theres so many untold stories people haven’t yet heard and the more music travels the more you realise how many people are having shared experiences.

The two singles ‘No More Naija Men’ and ‘Champagne Problems’ really tap into your African roots sonically? Can you dive a bit more into this process and the lyrical / storytelling inspiration?

These two songs are off of my latest project called We Go Again. And just reflect the sound I’m at and development and growth.

Interview by Matthew Craig. Written by Frank Tremain.

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