Eine Hommage an diejenigen, die zu ihren Überzeugungen stehen und sich für dauerhaften Fortschritt einsetzen: Zalandos aktuelle Frühjahrskampagne trägt Titel “Here To Stay” und setzt ein Ausrufezeichen der Toleranz und Inklusivität. Die Aktion verfolgt das Ziel, den Dialog über Kernwerte wie Diversität, Inklusion und Frauenförderung anzustoßen und damit Menschen auf der ganzen Welt zu inspirieren und zu ermutigen. So sollen Sichtweisen auf Themen wie Trans-Communities und Body Positivity erweitert werden. Mista Strange (@thestrangegram), der erste öffentlich geoutete Rapper Großbritanniens, lieferte den exklusiven Soundtrack der Kampagne. Wir haben uns mit ihm getroffen und über seine Ziele gesprochen.
Hi Mista Strange! First of all, thank you for your time. It‘s been quite a good year for you so far – you produced the Soundtrack of this year’s spring campaign of Zalando, „Here To Stay“. How was it to work on a project that represents your values to the fullest and to stand in for your personal interests?
Yeah, despite all that has been going on in the world with coronavirus and such, this year has been off to a good start. Being involved in this campaign has been amazing. Also taking such a lead role on the project has been great. Being able to create a track where I can speak my truth and have it broadcast to millions of people, is nothing short of a blessing. Being able to work with people I trust with my brand is also crucial. So big up to my good friend and college Harry Powell, who produced the instrumental. It’s crazy that I have to feel so appreciative about people who just take you for who you are as an artist and not anything else. But unfortunately, that is rare over my side of the pond – so it’s been a great opportunity to showcase the power of unity.
Here To Stay“ is all about diversity and inclusion – containing topics such as sexuality, gender fluidity, female empowerment and body positivity. How does it feel to be part of that?
I think that being able to be yourself is the biggest asset you can possess, because everything else follows after that. You can become whoever and whatever you choose – once you know and accept yourself. So I think we should be utilising every opportunity available to show people you can be you, and it’s ok to be you and the world loves you.
A part of the lyrics is „just tryna be myself, not you“.
What does this mean to you, personally?
Well, a lot of the time people question why you are the way you are, because who you are is different to them. So that is literally a response to those people. “I’m just tryna be myself, NOT YOU”. I’m just trying to live my life in my own way, and I’m happy doing that. So who you are, or who you want me to be, is of no interest to me – because I’m already who I want me to be.
What surprised you the most, while working with so many people
and getting to know their stories?
You know what? While doing the campaign I didn’t really get too deep into conversation with people. We were all honestly just vining. But I do think there were some straight guys involved, so for me it was great to see how comfortable they were in themselves. Which again unfortunately can feel like a rarity at times, especially where I’m from. But just to have normal conversations with people chilling and vibing was cool.
What‘s your motivation to tell your messageand to carry out
your values? Which impact do you want to see on other people?
My motivation to keep spreading my message is every kid that woke up today and decided that they couldn’t live this life anymore, because it’s too hard to be gay. It’s for anyone that has to mentally prepare themselves to walk out the door, just because they’re wearing a particular type of clothing or makeup. For all the kids that lost friends and family, because they refuse to live a lie. My message is for all those, who are brave enough to stand up for who they are and for those, who are yet to find the courage. These are the reasons I continue to spread my message, and these are the reasons I won’t stop until every gay man can walk down the street, holding his husbands hand, pushing their kid in a pram – without receiving so much as a dirty look.
“If you follow someone,
you can’t see what’s ahead of you.”
The music industry can be a very excluding place. Especially the rap scene is notorious of it‘s homophobia. How was the reaction when you came out as the first gay rapper in the UK? How has the journey been to get there? Do you see yourself as a pioneer in the rap indsutry and a role model for other LGBTQIA+ artist?
They will hate you until they love you, and love you until they hate you. So I focus on what I think of myself. What the industry thinks of me is irrelevant, because I’m still in it and if they’d like to change that, they’ll have to remove me by force. And as far as being a role model is concerned if people are inspired by me and I can help people be themselves, that’s great. But don’t follow me, I’m no Angel, I make mistakes. Walk with me, instead. If you follow someone, you can’t see what’s ahead of you. If you walk beside someone, you can see what’s coming and fight it together – and that’s what we need to do: fight together.
If you had the possibility to change one thing from today to tomorrow, what would it be?
Just more love. The world needs more love and more realness. More people taking the risk of being hated in order to stand up for what is right. Love can feel like the hardest thing at times, but it is something we all possess. So it’s our choice how we use it. I just hope more people choose to use their love in the right way.
What‘s coming up next for you? What are you looking forward to for the rest of the year?
Well, I’m glad you asked. Because I’m about to cook up the maddest storm. The music scene needs to prepare for what is coming. Rumour has it, Strange will be dropping a project this year – and apparently it’s gonna be crazy. So keep your eyes peeled, the world is about to know who Strange is!
Vielen Dank Mista Strange, für das tolle Gespräch. Wir sind gespannt!