Written by: Remington Feierbach
Photographed by: Travis Owen & Avi Loud
In an industry filled with manipulation, facades, and importance placed on frivolity of appearance, it is often difficult to find artists who stay true to themselves and devote their souls to an essence of purity and truth. Where a plethora of musicians sit, waiting to hear if their newest track will break the charts and claim the coveted #1 spot, Petite Noir stands as a man among children. Self-described as "new wave with an African aesthetic", Petite Noir’s music carries depth, transcendence, and a pride that is all too obvious and sincere.
annick Ilunga grew up in an ever changing environment. Being of an Congolese and Angolan background, his birth in Brussels, Belgium, set the tone for a lifetime of different cultures and aesthetics. Experiencing life in countries like the Democratic Republic of Congo, Cote D’Ivoire, France, and ultimately South Africa presented an influx of melding ideals and new traditions to embrace. When asked if he felt an allegiance to South Africa, his home of 22 years, Ilunga replied “South Africa was all I knew. I felt south african until I realized that I wasn’t. A lot of people who move around experience this. It’s as if I’m a citizen of the world, really.”
hough his music reveals heavy African tones, Ilunga takes pride in his ability to take his different cultural influences and put them together in a way that a lot of people are unable to. “I always thought making music was a normal thing. When I was 17 or 18, I realized it was the only thing I really enjoyed and was good at. I tried skateboarding, basketball, and I was never much of an academic, but my family has always really been into music. Every African person is a music man. I am African, so I don’t really have to prove much. It’s just a part of myself. Everything I do is African, I can’t be anything else.”
n Ilunga’s eyes, music is all about vivid emotions and their expression. Some days a person can feel overwhelmingly sad, some days full of lust and sexual desire, somedays intense anger — these are all things that compose the core of music. Without them, music is pointless. The purpose of his lyrics are not to draw attention to his social status, but to evoke feelings within the listener.
"Pressure", a song that floats with verbose such as “'m walking down the streets so the walk of shade//I promise to the world that my life's insane//I'm acting any//can remember my name//why do we start to reverse the game”, is described by the artist as a comparison between the music industry and excessive personal indulgence. “It’s about the downfalls of the music industry and how fucked up it can make you feel for a while. Y’know, it’s like getting really fucked up one night and walking back home the next morning. You have this heavy sense of surreal reality.”
etite Noir represents a purity that is often lost in a generation of first impressions and filters. We can only hope that a trend of upward mental importance follows suit.