I was born in 1970, sprung from one of the most aspirational generations America has ever produced: The Hip-Hop Nation. With decades of rap music anthems dedicated to our fantastical transition from poverty to prosperity, we rarely celebrate our wealth without looking back on our meager beginnings. The American Dream, for us, always represents the possibility of success and affluence on our own terms — with a watchful eye toward our hardscrabble origins.
A white picket fence and a walk-in closet? Mobility? The promise that your kids will walk an easier road than you did? Bank deposit insurance? Equality under the law? Showing up to your 25th high school reunion with a full head of hair and a fancy title? A Murcielago and a boob job?
And what in the world does that sound like? John Cougar Mellencamp? Lynyrd Sknyryd? Bruce Springsteen? Duke Ellington? KRS-One? Elton John? Jay-Z?
Born in London to Ugandan parents, Michael Kiwanuka was brought up in a home from which music was largely absent. His first introduction to rock — Nirvana, Radiohead — arrived as he began to hang with the skater kids in his north London suburb during his early teenage years.