Community is at the heart of everything that Enny creates. One of South East London’s finest rappers’ third single ‘Peng Black Girls’ acts a bold celebration of black womanhood and laced over soulful keys and a low-key drumbeat is the reminder: “We gon’ be alright, OK”. The track is a mantra and a reminder to black women everywhere that they can find solace in a world that makes them feel disrespected, censured and overlooked.
Enny tells NME via Zoom that her community and her surroundings have always been the primary source of inspiration for her flow. From her parents, who “were supportive from the jump” to the “peng black girls in her area code” that inspired the new release, her part of London will always be what keeps Enny inspired. “People hate on this area a lot,” she says. “I have to be defending Thamesmead from my core. People think I live in the sticks, it’s so annoying”, she adds in a half-joking manner.
South East London is ever-changing, a lot of it for the worse, the rapid decline of social housing is just one example. Rolling her eyes, Enny huffs. “It’s all changed so much. A lot of things are just gone. It’s all getting gentrified. I look at my childhood and see that it’s being knocked away slowly.” Witnessing the loss of the area where her passion for performing stemmed from, Enny is determined to assert her pride for her community, saying “there needs to be more banding together amongst us”.
Enny now joins Shaybo, Ivorian Doll, Br3nya and Darkoo in disrupting a historically male-dominated UK rap scene. Despite the support for women in UK rap continuing to grow, the standards compared to their male counterparts are undeniably higher. The brutal response to Abigail Asante’s diss track this month shows how some stars are still falling victim to casual, yet flagrant, disrespect from listeners, while pop hero Bree Runway admits that getting a foothold in the UK scene has been tricky. Enny is unphased. “It doesn’t worry me,” she says. “Personally, for me, my motto is to do what you’ve got to do and be organic with it. Whatever will be will be.”
“It’s not anyone’s place to dictate what someone should do. Individuality should be allowed.”
Enny doesn’t forget that the world is unforgiving to black women, especially those who are darker-skinned. “Being dark-skinned has always been seen as a negative thing. You’re referred to as ‘too dark-skinned’ or the word ‘black’ is directed to you as an insult, but it’s just my skin? I feel like there’s a lot of work to be done in and outside of the community”.
That’s why the release of ‘Peng Black Girls’ is so important for Enny. At times like this, it is key to celebrate the myriad of black women that exist in all different shapes and sizes. “Perm tings, braids, got mini afros / Thick lips, got hips, some of us don’t”, Enny reminds black women on the track, imploring that they have strength in numbers and their diversity.
Black women in the music scene exist in a system where they are either fetishized or desexualised, and regardless of which label is forced upon them, they’re criticised by the wider community. Either rappers like Noname are ridiculed for being too ‘woke’, or the sexuality of rappers such as Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion is represented as inherently abnormal and excessive.
If black women in music are not being shamed for their sexual conquests, they are bullied for not fitting into society’s narrow definitions for who is deemed ‘beautiful’. Black women in rap always appear to be doing something wrong, which is why Enny concludes that what women do both visually and sonically is nobody’s business, “I support what everyone is doing. If that’s what they want to do, that’s what they want to do! It’s not anyone’s place to dictate. Individuality should be allowed.”
And for Enny, owning your individuality is what it’s all about. In ‘Peng Black Girls’, she says, “they’ve got Chanel bags and purses / and I’ve got some mashed-up vans that I won’t throw away / ‘cus I’m easy and hurtin”. Black women are not a monolith, and that’s OK. Enny’s new release is a rallying cry for black women to assert control over their lives.
Does Enny think that there’s an appetite for a song like this in the current UK music scene? After a brief pause, she lets out a giggle. “I don’t know! I hope so. The thing is, no trend lasts forever. If you stick to what everyone else is doing, once that dies out, what are you going to do?” Playing with her hair, she adds; “I’m just gonna continue doing what I do now – make a lot of sick music and create a solid space for my community”.
Enny’s ‘Peng Black Girls’ is out now