A quiet revolutionary, Michael Kiwanuka embodies the old saying that the personal is political. Kiwanuka comes by his political awareness honestly; he was born in London to Ugandan parents who escaped the Idi Amin regime in the ‘80s. In the current climate of deep political upheaval, living in an unnervingly populist and reactionary Europe, and riding the historically charged genres of folk and soul, he brings messages through melody, prioritizing higher personal truths and steadfast positivity over directed criticism and prescriptive politics.
An accomplished soul-folk guitarist, Kiwanuka developed his skills in the same musical scene as Mumford and Sons, and he spent some time as the guitarist in Adele’s backing band, but it’s his singing and songwriting where the musical punch really lies. He has borne comparisons to just about any influential male ‘70s soul artist you’d care to name, and when he released his debut album Home Again, it was met with almost universal critical acclaim for its intimate and confessional lyrical sincerity, as well as his warm baritone vocals. With his latest release Love & Hate, and its most recent single “Black Man in a White World,” Kiwanuka has upped the ante on political commentary, but still manages to shape the message within an intensely personal and vulnerable context that makes it emotionally accessible to all comers. With quiet intensity, Kiwanuka reminds us that Love & Hate are both personal and political choices, and the choice between them is an easy one.