Masked trip-hop vigilante and lyrical activist: NEO 10Y

Masked trip-hop vigilante and lyrical activist: NEO 10Y

Incognito vigilante musician NEO 10Y’s unique brand of lyrical political activism seemed like the perfect fit to continue with our Social Delinquent series. Before the US election, the political trip-hop artist created a three-part film on deleting Trump from the public consciousness. Called NEO 10Y v. NIHIL: The Kid That Killed Trump, the three tracks it featured – AMERIKKKA, JANIS and WILD WEST – all voiced NEO 10Y’s extreme discontent with the current state of American political affairs. Following Trump’s victory, XXY’s Features Editor Vanessa Moore caught up with him to talk politics, subversion, and how his progressive message still remains more relevant than ever on both sides of the Atlantic.

Vanessa Moore: Many musicians focus on banal themes like having a good time in their songs, but you choose to use politics as inspiration. Would it be right to say that you use your music as a form of activism?

NEO 10Y: Thank you so much for acknowledging this. I definitely see my lyricism and sound as a vessel for change, whether the tracks are about politics or society, humanity, or commentary on the pharma industry (e.g. Cocaine For Kids). There’s a place for all types of music and narratives; and songs about having a good time are really important. But I want humans to take something almost educational away from my music at the same time as enjoying it. I like to think I tie a nice balance between the two!

VM: You’ve been associated with hacker group Anonymous, and you choose to keep your identity secret. Why? Are these two things purposely connected?

N10Y: That association came from the use of a superimposed mask similar to the Anonymous Guy Fawkes mask in some of my earlier imagery. I believe in a decentralised command structure and I don’t necessarily believe there should be a monarchy or “leaders” of parliamentary “parties”, per se, so we have that in common, too.

My identity is a secret because of the somewhat contentious nature of my work (i.e. sedition, dissidence). I have been targeted by pro-Trump groups etc. and reported to the FBI a number of times, so I prefer to keep it secret.


VM: Before the US election, you created a three-part film that centres on deleting or “killing” Trump from the public consciousness. How does his victory make you feel? Do you think your message still has relevance?

N10Y: Honestly, it’s heartbreaking. We all live in these echo chambers where there is a distinct lack of understanding between progressive mindset humans and those that are essentially lost, not even knowing that their actions or lack thereof have caused this to happen. Trump is a political imposter and manipulator, no different to Hitler, and I’m disappointed in humanity that this (and Brexit, for that matter) was able to happen.

I still stand by my message and, if anything, I feel it is stronger and the film now has more longevity than I had anticipated – which was not the point! I didn’t even want it to still be relevant, but it is even more so. It’s our responsibility as artists to educate and not berate. I just hope it opens up more minds.

Neo 10Y

VM: In this issue, we’re profiling creatives who are using their craft as a platform for what they believe in or using it to break social boundaries. How do you feel about being labelled a social delinquent?

I’d prefer the term dissident rather than delinquent, but I understand where you are coming from – and I’m honoured to be part of the issue.

VM: Living in America as a musician, do you think that creating polarising music is the best way to provoke political debate?

N10Y: I split my time at the moment between London, NY and LA, which works best for creating at this stage. Music is global; America just happens to be a place where a lot of things happen and the country’s political and social impact and influence on a global level are really important to address.

Neo 10Y

VM: I noticed some of your lyrics are in French. What brought about this choice?

N10Y: I speak French and study French literature. I would also cite MC Solaar, Noir Desir, Jacques Brel, Gainsbourg etc. as influences, and I feel that the tongue lends itself to a more poetic license and flow. It comes really naturally to me and I guess that on a political level it makes sense, considering the revolution. The spoken word part in my song Janis is essentially about us, the subversive ones, rebuffing monarchy and the patriarchy, protecting us from fear and hatred.

VM: In an era of Brexit and Trump, how do you think this will impact the future of the arts?

N10Y: I think we will see more artists and creatives like me lending their voices across all platforms to spreading love and kindness and addressing the demons that we face as a society.

VM: Finally, what have you got planned next? What’s in the pipeline?

N10Y: My song Echo Chamber (lead single from the record I am releasing), which is a raw and emotional opus about breaking free of how we currently communicate with each other, comes out in January and I am working on the video at the moment. I have never been so excited to share something with the world.


Written by Vanessa Moore,

Features Editor

Visuals not owned by XXY Magazine LTD

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