gal-dem in conversation with Mikel Ameen

The countdown for AFROPUNK London has begun with just a week to go until the UK samples for the first time, the music festival dedicated to black music and black visibility. This latter quality is hugely important to understanding AFROPUNK’s significance since it is not merely a stage where black British artists of diverse genres can meet; it is also a proud and political platform for artists to shine a light on causes affecting the Black community.

Mikel Ameen is one such artist who will be bringing his political voice to the forefront at AFROPUNK. He arrived on the scene a little over two years ago with his single ‘World Changers’, an anthem repping his homegrown activist group that works to boost Black empowerment. The movement has evolved slowly ever since, as has his style which sits comfortably between 90s conscious rap and contemporary British hip-hop. We briefly spoke to Mikel Ameen ahead of his performance at AFROPUNK London next week. As a rising British star, he exemplifies AFROPUNK and is definitely one to watch out for.

gal-dem: AFROPUNK is finally coming to London giving the black British community cause to celebrate blackness on a large scale. It’s also a great opportunity to show the global AFROPUNK following what Black British Music has to offer. What are your thoughts and feelings in anticipation of the festival?

Mikel Ameen: I am excited for that exact reason, I feel like Black British Culture in general has played a huge role in the narrative of music around the world and it’s only continuing. I feel rightly placed to be on the bill for the 1st AP London and I am gassed I can’t lie

Who are you most excited to see at the festival this year?
The Noisettes. I am actually a fan of their music.

How do you see yourself fitting in within contemporary British rap?
I am a student of it all; British Rap/Grime plays a huge role in the way I rap. But I feel like I bring something very unique and refreshing to this scene that hasn’t been seen yet.

Could you talk a little bit about your World Changer movement? What does this cause mean to you and where do you hope to take it further?
World Changer Life is a mindset movement that says, “be the change you want to see”. I come from a generation that’s not satisfied with following old customs for the sake of tradition. My generation want to eat, sleep and breathe their dreams. My generation want absolute freedom and won’t settle for anything less. That’s the mindset that I call World Changers. It’s a lifestyle.

This collective has included your brother Aml Ameen as well as rising star Kayode Ewumi and Hollywood actor John Boyega. How did this come about?

Again, the movement represents a mindset and as the saying goes, you know a tree by the fruit it bears. Those brothers have the mindset and that’s what attracts them to the movement.

World Changer is practically a new Black British dynasty that I know inspires a new generation of Black youth. How does it feel to be a role model?
I don’t wish to be a role model. I wish to be a goal model, like “if Mikel Ameen can do that then I know I can do it and even more”.

AFROPUNK London takes place 24 September at Alexandra Palace. For tickets and the full line-up, click here.

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