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In Conversation with Young Paris exclusively for FGUK Magazine

Words by Rita Hughes

 

This is Milandou Badila, aka Young Paris. Newly signed to Jay-z’s Roc Nation, Badila is making connections and starting conversations, staying true to his Congolese roots. He first gained popularity through facebook, sharing the many nameless faces of colour present in the fashion industry, and through his movement, Melanin, he hopes to empower people of colour. His album, just like his signature facepaint shouts African pride, and just in case his message isn’t clear enough, FGUK sat down with him to learn more about his mind, his music and his cause.

 

 

 

This is Milandou Badila, aka Young Paris. Newly signed to Jay-z’s Roc Nation, Badila is making connections and starting conversations, staying true to his Congolese roots. He first gained popularity through facebook, sharing the many nameless faces of colour present in the fashion industry, and through his movement, Melanin, he hopes to empower people of colour. His album, just like his signature facepaint shouts African pride, and just in case his message isn’t clear enough, FGUK sat down with him to learn more about his mind, his music and his cause.

 

 

 

 

‘I’m always going to be an activist. Putting this maquillage on my face and being at the Vogue office is activism. Most of the time, Africans are left out of the conversation when it comes to what’s happening in contemporary art and culture. Most of the time it’s because they don’t speak the language. The art world, fashion world, music world, they all have different languages. The type of culture that you live in becomes a language.

 

I come from a culture that deals with a lot of issues. So my focal point is highlighting the beauty of the African experience. Another thing for me is bridging gaps. My real vision is seeing a room full of people of every race, knowing that they are their race and being proud of who they are, but still existing with each other and their cultures and their languages.

 

African American culture is different to African culture. Their values and influences are different. African Americans are African because of their genealogical background but they’re American because of their contemporary lifestyle and culture. African culture has blended into the African-American culture forever, because a lot of African Americans want to relate to African themes, their ways of dressing, music and dance. But I also see a lot of people moving away from the African environment. I’m trying to show people that this is our culture. This is what creates the emotion that you naturally feel when you hear music, when you’re celebrating. It stems from the African diaspora that we’ve been living for thousands of years.

 

 

A lot of African-Americans don’t know where they originate from and it affects their self-identity. Italian-Americans or Greek-Americans have a lineage that they can easily identify, where they feel like they can go back home. There are way less African-American people who can pinpoint exactly where they’re from. It creates a loss of connection to the continent that they want to feel associated with. Your race says that you’re African American but you have no connection to Africa, and the story that you know of is through slavery so it ends up being this massive mindfuck. People come to me and say they feel inspired because I can give them a piece of Africa, because I can speak their language but I’m African.

 

I don’t see myself as a spirit, I don’t think I’m holy but when you have people in my position who can genuinely create a platform that can impact pop culture it can make you feel something more, like you’re connected to that person. That vibe gives me the feeling of where home is. It helps fill in those lines.

 

African Vogue was a message. Essentially it was to show how Africans have influenced fashion, arts and culture. You have vogue dancing, Vogue magazine. It was showing that there is no limit to what we have to offer as African artists. The world has changed, you have to do five different things these days. It was like me saying that Africans can Vogue through all this shit.  I’m going to launch a media project in January. It’s going to be a website all about the subjects of people of colour. The dynamic contributions that we bring to the table in pop culture. It all kind of blends. Melanin is my baby, my legacy, the music is how I can further that, they work with each other.

 

 

I’m a rapper and having a stage name is what rappers do. But my name is Milandou. That is my real name, I don’t need to use that name, it’s my family name, I’d rather keep it more sacred. Young Paris is a performer, he’s a character, a performance artist, with a great dynamic story but this is what you’re trying to do, what tells the story. Milandou is a family man, for the real people in my life. I think it is great to have an internal life and then to have your career. When you go to work you have to clock in, you’re working for something: to reach a goal and then when you go back home you relax. Young Paris is a culture, a theme, a character and an artist and I like to keep that in its own place.’

 

Images Lensed by 3DNewYorker and styled by Gia Garison Exclusively for FGUK Magazine.

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