Kiyoko went on to express the importance of casting diverse actors in her videos, which usually doesn’t end up being an easy task.
“You end up going into the pool of the Hollywood world of trying to cast your actresses, and it’s difficult,” she said. “There isn’t a lot of diversity. I had a specific vision in mind, and then you get a list that’s only half a page. You end up having to dig deep to search for the right people.”
Ryan McGeady, the winner of best hip-hop artist at last week’s Scottish Alternative Music Awards (SAMA), has told BuzzFeed News about his other life, in which he runs his local food bank in Glasgow.
McGeady, known as Kid Robotik, runs the food bank in the Drumchapel area of Glasgow helping to train volunteers, organise fundraising drives, and raise awareness of the bank to make sure it reaches the people who need it most.
McGeady, 26, won the SAMA as a solo artist but he’s also part of a hip-hop collective, called TogoFam, that released an album earlier this year, with all proceeds going to the Drumchapel food bank.
“I’ve been writing music for half of my life now,” McGeady told BuzzFeed News. “I was 13 when I first picked up a pen and started to write poetry. I first got into it as a way to cope with adolescence – I was never exactly the most popular kid at school, but I wasn’t exactly an outcast either.
“I never knew how to fit in or how to feel. Writing gave me a new sense of freedom. It was around this time my older brother put me on to hip-hop music and so it just kind of stuck. Also I’m a terrible singer, so it was rap or nothing.”
McGeady’s mother helped establish the Drumchapel food bank and the rapper, who was then unemployed, started helping as a volunteer before getting more and more involved. His time at the bank, as well as his experiences with drug addiction and mental health issues, helped shape his work and social activism.
As volunteer coordinator at the food bank, McGeady ensures everyone who volunteers there knows how best to help the people who need it and leads drives to raise funds for and awareness of the service.
“It’s an absolutely horrible state of affairs [that food banks exist in modern Scotland] but unfortunately it’s a necessity,” said McGeady. “For some people this is life and death, so we need these services here to make sure they have a safety net when things get tough.
“In today’s current political and economical climate every single one of us is just one bad day away from having to access a service like ours, myself included. What I will say, though, is through the service we provide we have helped so many people who had slipped through the cracks.
“As well as providing food we also help people with debt advice, mental health issues, and budgeting advice with the help of other organisations. So as much as it sucks, it’s also a great thing.”
McGeady said he was “absolutely shocked” but “over the moon” to be recognised at last Thursday’s SAMAs, which celebrate the best emerging artists in Scotland across seven different categories.
His work is increasingly focusing on social issues in Scotland, but up until now has largely revolved around his own experiences of poverty, mental illness, drug addiction, and the feeling of alienation he’s encountered in his mid-twenties.
“I was raised to be very politically and socially aware but I tried to keep that away from my music,” said McGeady. “Since working at the food bank and being so close to these issues, it’s hard for it not to bleed into my art. I’ve spoken about poverty in my music and it’s something I plan to tackle further on my next projects.”
He added: “I’ve always been very open about my battles with mental health and drug abuse, so these themes pop up a lot. On my last project I tackled the issues of being in your mid-twenties: losing old friends, struggling to find your place, losing family members, and generally just feeling absolutely lost in the world.”
McGeady has taken inspiration from fellow hip-hop artist Darren “Loki” McGarvey, who has become a well-known social commentator in Scotland in the past few years and this year published his first book, Poverty Safari.
McGeady said hip-hop is becoming an increasingly important vehicle for young Scots to express their anger towards society and the government, and for educating all Scots on what it’s like to grow up in poverty in modern Scotland.
“I think with hip-hop anywhere in the world, there will always be ties to politics and activism,” said McGeady. “It’s a genre of music born out of rebellion against the status quo and in Scotland there have always been artists who talk about these issues – most notably Loki.
“He really brought politics and social issues to the forefront of his work and influenced a whole generation. Also, guys like Respek BA, and more recently Danny Kelly, Zesh, Oddacity, Young Brido, and many more, have challenged the government and social issues.
“The younger generation have really taken to talking about their experiences of growing up in poverty in Scotland. It can only be a good thing – the more people share their experiences, the better understanding the general population will have about these issues.”
He added: “It’s a great time for music and activism – I just hope we can all pull together and really make a change.”
“I’m living in a very special time, we need to take advantage of the potential the internet has to communicate. It’s fundamental to getting my message to as many people as possible at one time,” she told Black Women of Brazil in an interview. she analyzes. “I need to talk about these issues because I’m not in front of the cameras and speaking with various different media just to entertain, to have fun…This is also nice, but I have a mission. There are several ‘minas’ negras (black girls) that wanted to be in my place and I carry them with me.
Meet Cherrie, a singer-songwriter from Sweden whose music video “163 För Evigt” may have popped up in your timeline recently.
People have fallen in love with the song, which translates as “163 Forever”, even though many have no idea what Cherrie is saying because, hello, it’s in Swedish. Still, people are really feeling it, and one Instagram upload has had over 250,000 plays.
While Cherrie, 26, whose real name is Sherihan Hersi, is relatively unknown in Britain, she’s a breakout star in Sweden. She rose to fame in 2015 with her evocative hit song “Tabanja” (Swedish slang for “gun”), and earlier this year her debut album Sherihan won in the hip-hop and soul category at Sweden’s answer to the Grammy Awards.
Oh yeah, and she’s also collaborated with rapper Stormzy, on the song “Aldrig Igen (Må Sådär)” – in English, “Never Again (Feel Like That)” – before joining him on the European leg of his tour.
Cherrie told BuzzFeed News that “163 För Evigt” is a tribute to the 163 postal code – the code of Rinkeby, the Stockholm suburb she grew up in. “A lot of non-European immigrants live here, and the conditions and possibilities for people out here are less fortunate than anywhere else in the city,” she said.
“It’s also me celebrating my career, as it has been tough to get where I am as an independent artist.”
The song contains the line “Om jag lyckas då vi alla kan”, which means, “If I succeed then we all can.” Cherrie said she wanted to make a song that would instil hope in the young people of 163 and others growing up in similar conditions.
“My music is known for its emotional and honest feelings that sometimes come from a dark place,” she said. “This was my first release since my debut album, and I just really wanted to make something that had the same depth but could be positive and something people could vibe to.”
The international reception to the song – including in the Somali diaspora – has left Cherrie in awe, she said: “The fact that this is in a language most people don’t understand and it still translates enough for them to vibe to, it just makes me believe in myself even more than I did before.”
She added: “A lot of people say they can tell that whatever I’m singing about comes from something real through the conviction of my voice.
“Also, it carries a message of self-love and love for others, and even if they don’t understand I know they will feel it, and I’m just happy to be doing something positive through my music. If you listen … with an open mind, you’ll feel the energy and message no matter what language I choose to do it in. And for that I’m forever thankful.”
Cherrie was born in Norway but grew up in Finland – she says her family were among the first African immigrants to move there, at a time when racial tensions were high. They later moved to Sweden, where she says they encountered a different kind of racism.
“I always felt like racism was more institutionalised here like in the workplace and school,” she said. “Kinda more hidden racism.”
And while things aren’t as tough now, Cherrie says racism is still a huge problem across Scandinavia, despite the region’s liberal credentials. An anti-immigrant party, the Swedish Democrats, is now the country’s second-biggest.
“At the same time I feel like these racists are fading — this is their last fight to stay relevant in an evolving world where people like myself are becoming the norm in society,” Cherrie said.
Cherrie is proud to be a “third culture kid” – someone who has grown up in a different to society to their parents. The singer even contributed to an anthology telling stories from 40 people who identify this way. She also leads workshops in Sweden’s “less fortunate suburbs” to talk about identity.
“The world is changing, third culture kids are everywhere,” she said. “Like, even if you are 100% Swede but you grew up the last 15 years in an area where you have 90 different nationalities, you are bound to understand that all these narrow-minded homogeneous type of people are dying out.
“I definitely see myself as a third culture kid or cross-culture kid. I was born in Norway, moved to Finland, then to Sweden, and then to London and then back again.”
She added: “I think we need to rule our situation here in Europe and build identities that we feel safe with, rather than [allowing] the government or such to put labels on us.”
Her personal influences include all of her identities. For example, she named her independent record label Araweelo after a fearsome queen in Somali folklore who Cherrie says was “probably one of the first feminists ever”.
Growing up, Cherrie heard stories about Araweelo, and even though they were supposed to scare her, they did the opposite and inspired her instead.
Cherrie is now working on her second album and will be the opening act for Canadian music artist Daniel Caesar as part of Red Bull’s 30 Days in Chicago next month, before heading to South Korea for two shows.
Of course, there’s only one question her new army of stans want to know: Will Cherrie be creating any music in English or Somali?
“I have and I’m considering it,” she said. “For me, it all boils down to if it feels right in my gut.
“I know what my music has done in Sweden and if it doesn’t feel as real and important in the next language then it’s not really worth it. But I really believe that I’ll get there soon enough.”