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Michael Kiwanuka: Hero (Video Review)

Michael Kiwanuka Love & Hate Gatefold

I’m new to the Michael Kiwanuka craze. In fact, it was early this year when I first was drawn to his heartfelt, soulful vocals and his powerful songwriting style. So I was thrilled to hear there’s a new video for his track “Hero”. More about that soon.

Michael Kiwanuka "Love and Hate" gatefold LP

In February 2019, I quickly became a Michael Kiwanuka fan, and I just had to have his second album.

Revisiting Love and Hate

The first time I purchased Michael Kiwanuka’s 2016 LP, Love and Hate, it arrived with a postage stamp on the sleeve.

No box. No padding. Nothing. Amazon sent it without any of that stuff.

That got returned, and thankfully the replacement was well packed!

Michael Kiwanuka "Love and Hate" vinyl

Love and Hate was my introduction to Kiwanuka. In fact, it was his song “Cold Little Heart” that drew me to his music. In it, a four and a half minute long instrumental intro leads into Michael Kiwanuka’s soulful vocals. Absolute perfection.

“Cold Little Heart” led me to create a Spotify playlist of the same name. The cover art I created from a photo I took while hanging out with my cousin Laura at Causland Park in Anacortes early this year.

Kiwanuka’s Video for “Hero”

Well, Kiwanuka is back with a handful of new singles, including “Hero” with its cool swagger.

And oh do I like this! The melody has an element of soulful funk to it. A reverb-laden guitar sets the tone before Kiwanuka chimes in on vocals. Then, a second guitar swirls in packed with fuzz.

Last week he gave us a video for the song, and it’s powerful.

It pays homage to Michael’s heroes, from Martin Luther King to Malcom X, JFK to John Lennon, Marvin Gaye to Tupak. The video, directed by CC Wade, is based on COINTELPRO, the FBI’s covert program from the 50s through the 70s that aimed to suppress organizations and public figures involved in or supporting anti-establishment political activity during the time in question.

Conspiracy, death, counter culture, a movement toward liberation–this video has it all.

KIWANUKA by Michael Kiwanuka

“Hero” is the third song off Michael Kiwanuka’s forthcoming LP, KIWANUKA, out November 1 on Interscope Records.

He recently gave us a few other tracks off the upcoming record, including “You Ain’t the Problem” and “Piano Joint (This Kind of Love)”. Both feature his signature sound. Where “Piano Joint” is a mellow ballad, “You Ain’t the Problem” aligns with “Hero” with roots in classic soul, funk, and fuzz.

KIWANUKA, produced by Danger Mouse and Inflo, is his third LP. And, it’s quickly become one of my most anticipated new albums of the year.

Michael Kiwanuka & Dangermouse

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