ENNY Talks Music, Colorism, and Finding a Voice in Hip Hop

When Enitan Adepitan was a kid, she would spend her time scrawling down lyrics in her school books. “I wanted to be a child star, like on Barney or something,” she laughs over a video call, her straight black hair cascading behind her, “I would write raps anywhere. I used to write raps during church service. I have the notebooks still, full of bars I was writing when I was 13, 14. I was hoping that someday someone would be like, ‘hey, do you rap?’ and I’d be like, ‘yeah I rap! I’ve got notebooks full of it!’”

Over the past year, the now 26-year-old has been making good on her teen dream. The south-east Londoner is known as rapper and singer ENNY, and she has become one of the need-to-know names rising in UK music. This is in part due to the uniqueness of her sound – with a soft flow that careens between slick, enticing bars and silky vocals, ENNY’s discerning lyrics speak to the realities of life as a young Black woman navigating the world. “I can only rep for what I am,” the young British-Nigerian says, in typically gentle and thoughtful intonation, “And what I am is a Black woman. I mainly write about moods, experiences, and what I feel, so it’s always gonna be part of it.”

Her third single clearly established this: the standout “Peng Black Girls”, featuring singer Amia Brave, was a fresh sounding jam that spoke to the vastness of Black womanhood and beauty, uplifting her peers in a society that too often sidelines Black women (with lyrics like “Never wanna put us in the media, bro / Want a fat booty like Kardashians? (No) / Want a fat booty like my aunty got, yo”). Released in October 2020, the track was so huge that it got an official remix for Colors, a taste-making music platform on YouTube, but this time featuring none other than Jorja Smith (incidentally, while the addition of a big name brought in new fans, many listeners were concerned about the innate colorism in replacing Amia, a dark-skinned woman with Jorja, who’s mixed raced). “It’s been crazy”, she says now, “It was bigger than anyone anticipated, it was never a song that I made with a specific intention, it was a song that people found and felt they needed to back it. I think that’s the beauty of it.”

Still, there was a time where it seemed like the music career she had envisaged for herself might not happen. As a kid, ENNY’s dad gave her keyboard lessons, and she learned to play her favorite Adele songs – but she couldn’t read music notes, and a lack of confidence in herself meant she didn’t pursue music technology, even though she wanted to. She studied film at university instead, but found breaking into the creative industries a thankless task: “Everything is always networking, and I’m terrible at networking,” she says, “I’m very introverted.” And so she ended up getting a job in a bank, until she started to feel restless. “After two years, I was like ‘I can’t do this for the rest of my life. I’m gonna go do what I want to do.’”