REVIEW: Darnell Depradine redefines Masculinity with ‘Dear Male Ego’

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REVIEW: Darnell Depradine redefines Masculinity with ‘Dear Male Ego’

Masculinity within mainstream culture is a constantly debated concept. The affiliations with the term often involve strength, courage and more importantly, the lack of emotions, diversity and depth. ‘Dear Male Ego’, a visual EP by Darnell Depradine takes a closer look at this worldview of masculinity (which in recent years has been coined ‘Toxic Masculinity’) and diversifies the term in his vision. Does the set fall flat however, or ‘shake the table’?

‘Broken Man’ – The introduction to ‘Dear Male Ego’ directly forces the male viewer to take a look at what projections of self are truly portrayed to the masses, and delves into themes such as emotion’s which are proven to be a component that the average man hides from friends and family. ‘Am I man enough?‘ appears throughout the visual to ‘Broken Man’, juxtaposed with a figure (likely representing Darnell) figuratively dancing throughout a park. The track and its accompanying video offers a strong and raw opening to the EP and allows the depth of the project to be felt instantly.

‘For Real’ – The next visual of the project ups the ante with Darnell and also his friends, facing their inner demons. ‘Now I’m fighting myself for you’. The inner thoughts of destruction and battle reflect on the amount of internalisation some men face. This in turn can lead to a destruction of the mind and outcomes such as anxiety, anger and unresolved pain. The video highlights what happens underneath the mask (in our hearts and minds) and the direct act of physically and emotionally masking all of this on a day-day basis.

‘Poems and Proverbs’ – At this point we’re at the halfway point of the visual EP and a decision for Darnell and co is made. The burning of the hardest components of oneself. The deeper, conscious and reflective part of them is figuratively burned in this scene. ‘I can’t wait to get rid of you’ a voice eagerly announces as smoke erupts across the field that the character Jefe stands on at this point. A sentiment that Darnell evokes here is that of darkness; the path of destruction some men face when the choose to ignore their thoughts and emotions at every level. A short but powerful sentiment that lingers on into the final phase of the EP.

‘Seven Days’ / ‘Outrage’ – Again a shorter portion of the EP, ‘Outrage’ features the talented Little Simz, who is a mover and shaker within the UK Hip Hop scene. Although the number tells the tale of Simz and her passions for her craft and artistry, the visuals feature the masked men with roses, still in the field, in a stage of reflection. What really resonates here is the powerful bond of friendship, unity even amongst the hard and difficult stages of life and love between brothers. It’s clear that what is being challenged here is the perception that masculinity in society, should be a distant and stand alone journey throughout life.

‘Pink Canvas’ ‘Are you satisfied? Hiding behind a big bag of lies’. This question is placed at the centre of ‘Pink Canvas’ and directly asks the men to unload their fears, concerns and perceptions of manhood and to stand tall in their own version of Masculinity. This is physically represented in the visual as one of the central figures finally expresses himself amongst a literal Pink Canvas and amongst the smoke we were introduced to earlier, takes off his yellow mask and smiles with enthusiasm.

At the end of this visual, we are once again reintroduced to Toxic Masculinity. Its revealed to us in the form of the smoke. ‘I can’t wait to see you burn.’ Navan (the artists behind ‘Pink Canvas’) says, which at this point appears to have a dual meaning. The first, seems to focus on Masculinity and its pressuring impact on men in the contemporary world, causing them to literally burn (or hide) their true self or components which don’t fit into the overarching perception of Masculinity. The second meaning however, in the context of the visual anecdote, seems to demonstrate Darnell destroying this worldview, and in doing so replacing it with his powerful, multifaceted definition which is inclusive of every emotion, every defining moment in his retelling of Masculinity. This defeats the ‘Toxic Masculinity’ which taints the world around us. The double entendre, which is both semantically and visually articulated is powerful and forces the viewer/listener to reflect on our patriarchal society and the damaging narratives it spews in modern times.

‘Dear Male Ego’ demonstrates the creativity within the UK and directly addresses the longstanding issue with Masculinity both historically, and in contemporary society. Darnell Depradine rejects this view and replaces it with an accessible and far more accurate definition of what Masculinity should represent centrally. That is the high’s and low’s, up’s and down’s and fundamentally the bond and commonalities that men around the world face, even when at our most vulnerable. A powerful and visually captivating project.

Watch and listen to ‘Dear Male Ego’ below:

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