Pride

Vincint Shares 10 Black Creatives Who Inspire Him for Black History Month

VINCINT
Gabriel Goldberg

VINCINT

Sitting in his Los Angeles home, pop singer Vincint Cannady, known as Vincint to his fans, is already tired of 2021. “It’s only February,” he says with exasperation. “I feel like it's still last year, like we're not done.” The rising star is especially feeling the effects of 2020 as Black History Month continues. During a month meant for reflecting on the legacy of Black culture around the world, Vincint cannot help but think of America’s social reckoning with violence against Black lives.

“How many times can something continue to be repeated, and we keep on calling it new until you realize that it's the same thing over and over again, just in different generations?” he wonders. “The high-profile cases that made it to the news, the ones that haven't — it's just been a reflective month.”

It’s especially frustrating, Vincint says, when he sees the music industry that he works in putting on the veneer of support, but not doubling down on those efforts. The singer acknowledges the widespread success of Brianna Agyemang and Jamila Thomas’ #TheShowMustBePaused movement, and its ability to essentially force a shutdown of the industry in June. But he’s still waiting for more.

“Posting a black square on your Instagram and doing nothing else about it is nothing,” Vincint says, referring to the #BlackoutTuesday social posts that accompanied the movement. “Labels were posting the square, and I saw the ones that didn't donate, that didn't promote their Black artists, didn't stand up for their Black artists when their artists were being attacked for speaking out about their own lives. Nothing was said or done. I want to see action.”

Especially as a Black gay man working in music, Vincint understands the importance of properly using a platform. “We are invisible in both communities,” Vincint says with a sigh. “We're fighting on both sides to protect both sides while being ignored by both sides. That’s nuts to me, because we are always at the forefront of these fights. We're always there, we're always the ones shouting, 'You cannot do this to us,' and then it turns around and it's like, 'But you do it to us! And we still fight for you!'”

For Black History Month, Vincint decided to use his platform to spread some good — the singer (who says he’s currently working on his debut album) is highlighting 10 Black creatives, many of whom also identify as queer, that he feels inspired by. “I love talking about Black people who are just wonderful,” he says with a smile.

Chika — rapper

"I found out about Chika, because my friend Danielle Withers is a vocalist here in L.A., and she did Chika's Tiny Desk show. She told me to check it out, and I sat there the whole time and wept. She's wild and rambunctious and doesn't give a fuck — It's sick, my obsession with her. For the first time in a very long time, there's a woman emcee talking about sex, talking about heart, talking about Black lives, talking about LGBTQIA folks, and representing herself in such an honest and true form. As a Black queer woman, she is going through, and is going to go through, a lot in this world, and she seems to handle it well. It's an inspiration for me to see it as she goes through her career and figures out what she stands her ground on. I want to work with her so bad, and if she ever needs a backup for anything, I will be there, shoo-wopping in the back, because that's how much I love her. I will give her my best Dreamgirls."

Parson James — singer-songwriter

"Parson and I have been friends for about six or seven years — he is probably one of my favorite people, because not only is he someone who I can go to when I need just to vent, or when I just need to be a Black boy and have fun and enjoy myself. He is also one of the most amazing musicians I've ever met, he's such a talented songwriter and vocalist, it's crazy, because if you ever ask him to sing on the spot, he'll be like 'No, thank you.' But once he gets on stage? Superstar. He is probably going to have one of the best years this year, I think."

Rickey Thompson — influencer, podcast host (We Said What We Said with Rickey and Denzel)

"A genius. Simply put, Rickey Thompson is a genius. He alone probably saved so many lives this pandemic. Just the amount of joy he exudes in his posts, just the comedy, it is such a relief. It is such a serotonin boost, because he's just being himself, and it's so nice to see. He's so chocolatey and beautiful, and you're like 'God damn it.' I just love, more than anything, he relishes in the way that he looks. There are so many Black boys that have the hue of skin that we have who don't see themselves, and don't think they're pretty, or beautiful, or attractive, and it's so wonderful to see him get on his phone and be like, 'Do you see this skin, bitch?' It's just the emphasis on how much he enjoys himself, I love it. It's such a good time whenever I see a post from him — I stop, like 'Great, I get to watch this and laugh.'"

Kelechi — singer

"Craziest b---h I've ever met; insane vocalist, songwriter, model, musical theatre buff, he worked in politics at one point. He is one of my favorites. I met Kelechi maybe three years ago in passing, being like, 'Oh you sing? I sing we should do something together,' and it never happened. I saw him again, we reconnected, and we would kiki for a bit. As we got closer, we were just talking, and I had just put out The Feeling, and I was like, 'I want to have a show with all Black, gay, male performers. Like, if I can put a lineup in front of me of people who I know are fucking tight, I would love to do that.' And I messaged him, so scared to ask him to open for me, and he was like 'Bitch, yes!' He got up there and slayed. He has so much good music coming out — he will blow your mind."

Ira Madison III — writer, podcast host (Keep It)

"Ira is pure entertainment. Also, low-key ... no, high-key, also a genius. So intelligent it's scary, but also the wit is so fast. Ira's maybe 6'4", and the personality is just as big. But when you first meet Ira, he's quiet. I don't usually get intimidated by people, but I was intimidated by him. Within maybe five minutes, I felt so at home, like we were old friends. He has been so supportive, whenever I do anything he's like, 'Bitch, this is it, we're waiting for you to put out more.' I'm so happy to call him a friend, because he's genuine when you need him to be. Those people who are entertaining and have a big persona, but when you need them to be, like, calming, they are."

Lu Kala — singer

"Empress! She's a Canadian empress. So Lu and I have never met in person — we met because a producer I was working with had worked with her, and said 'You would love Lu.' I hadn't realized I was listening to her song, and fully did not know it was her. I'm jamming to this song, went to look up who it was, and I messaged her like 'You are so good.' She messaged me back like, 'Babe, I think you're dope.' I mean, she has put out banger after banger after banger, and I'm like, 'You're slaying this, you're beautiful, and you're just fucking killing it.' And she's so nice! She comes across as such a badass, that you'd be like, 'I'm a little afraid!' But she's so chill and humble and amazing. It's so nice to see. Ugh, I love talking about Black people who are just wonderful."

Durand Bernarr — singer

"Durand is someone I've followed on YouTube for ... at least the last 11 years. Durand is probably one of the best male vocalists alive. It's insane how talented he is, and how his mind works, because he's a comedic genius for sure, but his musical mind is always going. He always makes the things that he loves sound so cool. His album is an education on artistry, music, comedy. Yes, Durand Bernarr is iconic."

Siena Liggins — singer

"I saw Siena on New Music Friday a couple of weeks ago, and I cried. Again, I've never met her, but we talk on Twitter. She's so dope, and whenever she has something, I always share because she's so good and people simply don't talk about her enough. I feel like she's slept on, and I don't get it! Because, how? She's so tight, and she seems so nice and chill, and I just ... I love that she's finally getting that spotlight and killing it."

Bronze Avery — singer

"Just the cutest, most well-organized artist I have ever seen. From the visuals to the sound to the look to the voice, he's got it all together, and he's doing it all himself. It's so tight. It's so funny, because when Bronze and I first met, it was like, 'We do two different things, I don't know if we're going to get along,' and I was so wrong. I got to meet and interact with him, and he was so sweet and kind. It's just so tight that there is someone who's doing the exact kind of sound that I love to hear. Not just doing it to do it, but doing it well, and it's thought out, and it's planned. It's executed so well. An aesthetic queen, I love him."

Tyus Berry — model

"Tyus Berry is one of my favorite people. The first time I met Tyus, he was DJing at a bar, and I think he played 'Stilettos' by Crime Mob, and of course my ratchet ass was in the bathroom and swung around back to the dancefloor. After that, we started following each other online, and then we became friends. He is one of the funniest people I've ever met — the things that Tyus sends me that he finds online ... he should be in prison [laughs]. He's just such a good person. The way he talks about Black people in the media, the way he addresses it on his platform is very much about hearing and seeing us. I just love him."