Devin McKnight makes music to be understood. With Maneka, his wildly adventurous songwriting project, the Brooklyn-based indie rock artist has consistently and thoughtfully explored the fringes of identity. As a Black man, he writes songs that resiliently navigate the anxiety of being a minority in largely white spaces, offering solidarity to outsiders everywhere and firm defiance against a regressive status quo.
Maneka started as an outlet for McKnight to immerse himself in producing his own music after several stints as a sideman touring with other bands. “I had this big idea to be forging ahead with creating a space for black people in rock music,” says McKnight. His first effort 2017’sIs You IsEP was abrasive, scrappy, and endlessly listenable complete with songs aboutThe O.C.and an outro featuring his parents talking about their childhood growing up in segregated America. This juxtaposition of McKnight’s own personality and upbringing against years of generational trauma, gentrification, and injustice served as the backdrop for his explosive 2019 debut LPDevin. Earning praise for Bandcamp and Afropunk, the album solidified McKnight as one of the most essential voices in rock music. - Josh Terry