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 private city

Eko Atlantic in Lagos, like Tatu City in Nairobi, Kenya; Hope City in Accra, Ghana; and Cité le Fleuve in Kinshasa, DRC, point to the rise of private cities. What does it mean for the rest of us?

What she wore

The exhibition, ‘Men Lebsa Neber,’ features a staggering collection of the clothes and stories of rape survivors across Ethiopia.