Toronto-based R&B artist Mark Clennon releases Kingston, a personal new single in which he deconstructs two conflicting sides of his identity. Driven by an instantly catchy chorus and a rhythmic, nostalgic production, Kingston is a beautiful and conflicting reflection on intolerant attitudes towards the LGBTQ+ community in Jamaica, juxtaposed with the hopes and aspirations of its people as well as with Clennon's pride in his roots and identity. It follows the Passion and Foreign EPs, both released via Bonsound in 2019 and 2020, respectively.
Born in Kingston, Jamaica, Clennon combines the sounds of his hometown with those of 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. The result is as much dancehall as it is Toronto R&B, reflecting the artist's cultural duality.
Kingston is available on all music services.
The song is accompanied by a daring video that presents its subject by defying taboos: it contains the first gay onscreen romance between two men in a music video to be shot in Jamaica. Kingston means so much to me as it’s the first song I’ve written that directly addresses a same sex partner, as opposed to the more general terms I have 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. I directed, wrote, and produced the video for Kingston in the hopes of creating positive representation for LGBTQ+ people. It follows two men living in Jamaica who just happen to be gay: the concept is simple, but still very taboo over there. It was important to me to show hopeful images rather than the horrible realities that queer people see around the world, in order to detach homophobia from the narrative of the gay experience. If one person sees the video for Kingston and feels more optimistic about the future and at peace with themselves, then I’ve reached my goal. In other words, Kingston is an optimistic song that reminds us that things can always change for the better.
About Mark Clennon
Born in Jamaica to a musical family, Clennon’s father was a Trenchtown-bred saxophone player, and his brother became a successful dancehall producer. Participation in Jamaican Pantomimes while growing up inspired him to take a theatrical approach to his music, which today is reflected in his aesthetics, his erratic dance moves and his compelling stage presence.
The artist left his home country at age 15 and has since been struggling to find a balance between his Jamaican roots and growing into being Torontonian. The thriving R&B scene of the city is motivating for Clennon, though he often feels stuck between two cultures and realities, and is constantly trying to figure out how to bring together both sides. Mark Clennon makes music that is both grandiose and humble by mixing together a variety of genres.
The crooner delivers honest, touching lyrics in his powerful voice over sweeping compositions. Clennon’s versatile beats and lyricism mesh together to create an empowering, emotional and captivating sound.