On Saturday Urban Slag will host its annual Halloween party in Birmingham. This year it feels extra special because long-time friend Miyagiwill be performing. Miyagi describes himself as a LGBT Grime Artist. From nearby Wolverhampton, he has been part of the Urban Slag family since its inception in 2010.
Over the past 9 years Urban Slag has become more than just a rave. It is a space that inspires Black queer resilience, creativity and closeness. It’s where we come together to safely express our true selves and find our release through dance.
Miyagi has been an instrumental member of that community from the start. As our dancer, our friend and fellow raver, he has always shown true queer confidence that inspires and uplifts those around him. So, as Black History Month comes to a close, we wanted to delve into what inspires the artist himself.
Black music is an art form that tells our histories of power, identity, struggle and love for one another. Below, Miyagi provides us with the soundtrack to his life and pays homage to the Black artists and songs that have influenced and uplifted him over the years.
2 Pac – Changes
“It’s probably the only rap song that I knew all the words to growing up. Before Nicki Minaj I didn’t really have any connection to rap music or the stories. I spent a lot of my time as a young boy around women so being around them and connecting with them came easily to me but it was actually an older male cousin who introduced me to this song. We used to rap it together after school. It’s a very fond memory of mine because it’s one of the only times I really remember connecting with a man”.
Beyonce – Crazy in Love
“If you would have told the 12 year-old me that he didn’t have a crush on Beyonce, he would of called you a liar. I was obsessed with Beyonce but little did I know, rather than crushing on the poster-girl of my youth, I was subconsciously taking notes and studying how to execute her every movement and perform. Every entertainer should try and live up to Beyonce. She will always make it onto my top list”
Nicki Minaj – Massive Attack
“I had already become a ‘Barb’ a few years prior to this song being released. My introduction to hip-hop came through my love for her songs like ‘Curious George’ and ‘Itty Bitty Piggy’ but this song was the world’s first proper introduction to the lady whom I call Queen. This video created an identity that I used for a few years – ‘André Tyresse Rose’ – to mirror the guest appearance from Amber Rose. The vibe was simply, I wanna be Nicki’s best friend in the pink Lamborghini for the rest of my life”.
Ms Banks – Pen Game 2 Challenge
“Fast forward to 2018 and we have the birth of Miyagi and let me tell you he was stanning multiple female rappers including the top UK chick Ms Banks. “Buss down doors do damage, niggas say I got the whole package, came up in the scene and cause havoc if my sis got a problem I’ll back it.” To me, no truer words had been spoken and so I decided to write my own version and post it on Instagram. Within two weeks, Ms Banks had re-shared it and I’d been offered the opportunity to perform at Birmingham Pride. It was the start of an era”.
Lady Leshurr – Queen’s Speech 4
“I can’t do a playlist without mentioning the Queen. The queen of flow, the queen of metaphors and queen of the 0121. This song has to be my favourite of all the Queen Speech’s. Her queen speech theme inspired my version – ‘Thee Miyagi – Kings Speech’ – the first full song I wrote. With her quick punchlines and delivery, she will inspire many more tracks from me. Thanks for leading the way and repping home in the best way”.
Elephant Man – Log On
“Growing up as a gay Black man these are the types of songs I would hear while still trying to figure out who I was. I would ultimately feel uncomfortable hearing these but I remember coming of age and going to gay clubs and seeing all my fellow LGBT+ people still brucking out to these songs. From those moments I decided, no matter what you say or do, you’re not gonna block us or make us feel like we don’t belong. I reclaimed the space and my Caribbean identity. None of these songs have ever made me feel uncomfortable ever again”.
Lil Kim – The Jump Off
“I feel like I’m solidifying myself as a female rap fanatic at this point. I thank Nicki Minaj for introducing me to the world of hip-hop. Her music encouraged me to look back and find the strong, sexy women talking that hood life because that’s literally where I come from”.
Foxy Brown – Oh Yeah
“I’m the most critically acclaimed rap bitch in the game” and “dark skin Christian Dior poster girl”. These are my life long captions. I use them at least once a year. This song itself is the perfect mix of that ragga sound I grew up on and that bad gyal rap I’ve grown to love. A great dark-skinned Queen – a legend, an icon.