Michael Kiwanuka: 'I Toed The Line Of Nowhere' : World Cafe The "Black Man In A White World" singer discusses his bicultural upbringing and the ways in which his music and his identity intersect.
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Michael Kiwanuka On World Cafe

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Michael Kiwanuka On World Cafe

Michael Kiwanuka On World Cafe

Michael Kiwanuka On World Cafe

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"I felt like I toed the line of nowhere," Michael Kiwanuka says of his upbringing as the child of Ugandan refugees in England. Phil Sharp/Courtesy of the artist hide caption

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Phil Sharp/Courtesy of the artist

"I felt like I toed the line of nowhere," Michael Kiwanuka says of his upbringing as the child of Ugandan refugees in England.

Phil Sharp/Courtesy of the artist

Playlist

  • Jimi Hendrix, "Are You Experienced"
  • Jimi Hendrix, "Purple Haze"
  • Michael Kiwanuka, "Cold Little Heart"
  • Michael Kiwanuka, "Black Man In A White World"

On the breakout single from his 2016 record Love And Hate, Michael Kiwanuka declares "I'm a black man in a white world." He repeats the refrain over and over again, with crystal clarity. He's staking a claim at the very personal place where his music, color and identity intersect. And it's taken him a lifetime to get there.

Kiwanuka was raised in the U.K. by Ugandan refugees. ("I felt like I toed the line of nowhere," he says of his bicultural upbringing.) He's a Hendrix-head who loves folk-rock, but whom the music industry has always wanted to pigeonhole as a soul artist. In honor of Black History Month, we asked him to talk about his own history — and how it shaped "Black Man In A White World." Listen and download the complete conversation via the player above.

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