Toronto-based R&B artist Mark Clennon released Kingston, a personal new single in which he deconstructs two conflicting sides of his identity.
Driven by a catchy chorus and a rhythmic, nostalgic production, Kingston is a conflicting reflection on intolerant attitudes towards the LGBTQ+ community in Jamaica, juxtaposed with Clennon’s pride in his roots and identity.
Kingston follows Clennon’s Passion and Foreign EPs, both released via Bonsound in 2019 and 2021, respectively.
The Kingston, Jamaica-born artiste combines the sounds of his hometown with pop and R&B.
“I wrote and produced it with the intention of creating a song that embodied the essence of Jamaican music but also had equal parts pop,” he shared in an interview.
The result is as much dancehall as it is Toronto R&B, reflecting the artiste’s cultural duality.
The song is accompanied by a daring video that’s defying taboos; it contains the first male-to-male onscreen romance in a music video, captured in Jamaica.
“Kingston means so much to me as it’s the first song I’ve written that directly addresses a same-sex partnership, as opposed to the more general [angles] I’ve used in the past. Given the unique nature of the video, much care had to be taken to ensure that we were able to shoot all of the scenes without ruffling any feathers. All in all, we are beyond proud of what we have been able to accomplish.”
Despite his reticence about certain aspects of his culture, Mark Clennon loves Kingston and its people: His new single acts as an ode to the Jamaican capital and aims to give hope not only to members of the LGBTQ+ community in his homeland but to all marginalized groups.
In other words, Kingston is an optimistic song that reminds us that things can always change for the better.
Mark Clennon was born in Jamaica to a musical family. Clennon’s father was a Trench Town-bred saxophonist, and his brother became a successful dancehall producer.
Participating in Jamaican Pantomimes while growing up inspired him to take a theatrical approach to his music, which today is reflected in his aesthetic, erratic dance moves and compelling stage presence.
Clennon left Jamaica at 15 years old and has struggled to find a balance between his Jamaican roots while appreciating a newfound Toronto identity.
The thriving R&B scene of the city has been motivational for Clennon, though he often feels stuck between two cultures and realities, and is constantly trying to figure out how to bring together both elements.
Mark Clennon makes music that is both grandiose and humble, thereby merging a variety of genres.
The crooner delivers honest, heartfelt lyrics in powerful voice-over compositions. His versatile beats and lyricism combine to create an empowering, emotional and captivating sound.