Jesy Nelson drops first music video since leaving Little Mix and the internet has thoughts

Patrick Kelleher October 8, 2021
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Jesy Nelson in the music video for Boyz

Jesy Nelson in the music video for Boyz. (Polydor)

Little Mix star Jesy Nelson has released her debut solo single – and to say reactions have been mixed would be an understatement.

The singer – who bowed out of the hugely popular girl group in 2020 – released her first solo single on Friday (8 October). “Boyz” is a collaboration with Nicki Minaj which also samples P Diddy’s track “Bad Boy for Life”.

The music video for the song shows Jesy Nelson sitting on the roof of a house as she sings about how she likes bad boys who are “so hood, so good, so damn taboo”.

The song – and the music video – immediately faced criticism on social media, with many accusing Nelson of blackfishing. Journalist Wanna Thompson told CNN in July that “blackfishing” refers to white entertainers who “do everything in their power to appear Black”.

“Whether that means to tan their skin excessively in an attempt to achieve ambiguity, and wear hairstyles and clothing trends that have been pioneered by Black women,” she explained.

Jesy Nelson accused of ‘blackfishing’ with new song

Jesy Nelson found herself at the centre of a storm of controversy on social media following the release of “Boyz”.

Others just found the entire project a bit cringe.

This isn’t the first time Nelson has been accused of blackfishing. In May, the former Little Mix singer became the subject of social media ire when a number of tweets went viral in which people said they had only just learned Nelson wasn’t actually Black.

Those tweets led to significant criticism suggesting that Nelson was trying to make herself look racially ambiguous.

The controversy flared up again when Nelson was confronted about “blackfishing” claims in an interview with The Guardian.

Responding to the backlash, Nelson said: “I would never want to offend anyone, and that was really upsetting. I wasn’t aware that’s how people felt.”

The Guardian noted that Nelson sounded “bewildered” by the suggestion that she was “blackfishing”.

Jesy Nelson’s first solo single comes almost a year after her dramatic exit from Little Mix following issues with her mental health. Since leaving the group, Nelson has said she wanted to pursue a solo career so she could release the kind of music she listens to, such as R&B.

Speaking to Glamour ahead of the launch of her solo career, Nelson revealed that she hasn’t spoken to her Little Mix bandmates since they parted ways.

“It is weird because for so many years we were as close as sisters, together every hour of the day for weeks, sharing beds, laughing, crying just 24/7 the four of us together and then… Nothing.”

She said they have “sent a few texts”, but nothing more. “I can’t explain it, it’s like there has to be this distance. We were so close so you can’t do in-between, there has to be space.

“Hopefully, at some point in the future, we can all come back together.”


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