Mykki Blanco’s Beautiful, Gory, Heartwrenching, Raw, Drug-Fueled Trip Back To High School
If you only listen to “Highschool Never Ends,” the standout alt-hip hop ballad on Mykki Blanco’s new album, Mykki, you are well aware that it drips with searing angst and love lost.
It’s a drug-infused reflection of envy and jealously — a relationship that can’t gel seemingly due to drama common among highschoolers. Clashing social statuses. Hypermasculine impulses. Ripe insecurities. Purposefully mixed signals. Temptations abound.
It’s emotionally draining to the ear.
But watching the video is emotionally scarring.
This is not to say this is not a gloriously beautiful song with a powerful video. It is a stand-out gem. But after sampling the track for several days, I realized I did not understand its full meaning until I watched the bloody, Shakespearean tragedy unfold on screen in all its raw glory.
“This story is about outsiders, forbidden love,” Blanco said in a statement last spring when the first clip of the video was released.
What the video makes clear is that it is a story about race, homosexuality, poverty, vengence and violence all wrapped into one turbulent visage.
It centers around a secret relationship between Mykki — who is gay in real life — and a strikingly handsome, well-built masculine German lover, who appears to be closeted. The kindling begins in high school, of course. But it endures over the years even as the two lead completely diveregent public lives.
The video jarringly jumps back and forth between time periods, but the tension is feverish throughout. The interracial dynamic makes the drama all the more compelling. It is a struggle to reconcile their longing for each other due to their bigoted surroundings.
But the lyrics all hearken back to high school —
He macking deep and he tryna creep on that black girl wearing Vans
They blasting Nelly and Missy Elliott like high school never ends
You say that you want love but then go fuck other dudes
Treating me like you don’t need me, I guess a nigga old news
— making the point that life’s largest obstacles really don’t change, they just age.
The video is a tad gratuitious with its violence, clearing seeking shock value with flesh and blood that I could do without.
But the song combines all the best aspects of the burgeoning fusion between electronic music, hip hop and orchestral sounds. It’s the construction of this song — from the eery background chimes to the hypnotic chorus layered over succinct raps — that make it a winner. The storyline is just the icing.
It’s no wonder “Highschool Never Ends” has been nominated for a pair of U.K. Music Awards. It’s a trip back to another time that’s worth your time because time has changed life less than you imagined it would.