Umlilo is young, black and queer in South Africa

The artist Umlilo documents their metamorphosis from a tortured outsider to a fully realized divine being.

Still from 'Magic Man.'

The artist Umlilo (more on Twitter and on Soundcloud) continues to push societal boundaries, crushing the norms of sexuality and gender roles with ‘Magic Man’, a track from his latest album, which will be released in July 2014. Watch the making of what is their fifth music video and hear their thoughts on circus troops, being an outcast and how his music has become his freedom.

Umlilo, is back with their fifth music video single, ‘Magic Man’ from their upcoming EP, ‘Aluta.’  You’ve seen the teaser, now see the video.

Produced by Umlilo, ‘Magic Man’ is an electronic fusion of different sounds ranging from dark post-dub with afro-dancehall accents to a baroque synth pop accompanied by Umlilo’s powerful vocals.

“Magic Man represents a person’s metamorphosis from a tortured outsider to a fully realized divine being and I wanted the music to reflect the transformation,” says Umlilo. “It’s one of my most personal songs and I wanted to explore the physical struggle in all of us to transcend beyond the ordinary and mundane to become greater people.”

Umlilo teamed up with director Jasyn Howes and DOP Nicolas vd Westhuizen, with the avant-garde styling expertise from Art Mataruse, make-up artist Charli Vdr and visuals by Danielle Clough.

Performers Sheldon Michaels and Alex Alfaro join Umlilo in a dark ritualistic journey to become the enigmatic and ethereal Magic Man who skirts on the outskirts of the norm. Shot at Old Cotton Mills in Epping, Cape Town, the video is a fitting visual accompaniment to the lush and eclectic single.

Further Reading

A city divided

Ethnic enclaves are not unusual in many cities and towns across Sudan, but in Port Sudan, this polarized structure instigated and facilitated communal violence.

The imperial forest

Gregg Mitman’s ‘Empire of Rubber’ is less a historical reading of Liberia than a history of America and racial capitalism through the lens of a US corporate giant.

Africa’s next great war

The international community’s limited attention span is laser-focused on jihadism in the Sahel and the imploding Horn of Africa. But interstate war is potentially brewing in the eastern DRC.

The Cape Colony

The campaign to separate South Africa’s Western Cape from the rest of the country is not only a symptom of white privilege, but also of the myth that the province is better run.

Between East Africa and the Gulf

Political encounters between the Arab Gulf and Africa span centuries. Mahmud Traouri’s novel ‘Maymuna’ demonstrates the significant role of a woman’s journey from East Africa to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Āfrīqāyī

It’s not common knowledge that there is Iran in Africa and there is Africa in Iran. But there are commonplace signs of this connection.

It could happen to us

Climate negotiations have repeatedly floundered on the unwillingness of rich countries, but let’s hope their own increasing vulnerability instills greater solidarity.