Fuse is celebrating Pride Month by looking at a variety of rising forces who are creating Future LGBTQ History before our eyes. Today we're sharing the story of iLoveMakonnen, a free-spirited singer, rapper, producer and self-releaser in his own lane. iLoveMakonnen (born Makonnen Sheran), may have jump-started his success back in 2011 when he released his first song "The Newness,” but it was his MySpace days of blogging and reaching out to artists, fashion designers, DJs etc. that inspired him to embrace his distinctiveness and get a feel for the industry.
The L.A. native rose to fame with mixtape releases such as 3D, Drink More Water series and collaborations with some of the biggest ATL producers like Sonny Digital and Metro Boomin. His self-titled EP iLoveMakonnen, featuring hit songs "I Don't Sell Molly No More" and "Tuesday," skyrocketed his career and earned him a GRAMMY nomination in 2015.
Prior to flourishing into the breakthrough artist we know today, Makonnen enrolled in cosmetology school at the Beauty College of America in Forest Park, Georgia. It was there where his eerie theme of decorated doll heads all began. In a 2014 interview with Pigeons and Planes he explains why he carries heads of mannequins everywhere he goes:
"That started when I was on house arrest. I ended up going to cosmetology school at the Beauty College of America in Forest Park, Georgia. My mom used to work as a hair technician there, so I started learning to color hair and cut hair and all that shit. Everyone got their own doll head, and I started drawing on the face to make sure people knew it was mine. They were worried it was gonna scare people and no one was gonna want to come and get their hair done, and I’d just be like, 'I’m trying to do shit for the circus, not regular bitches’ hair!' Then when I wanted to start putting out music videos, I needed someone to film but no one believed in my music so I just started filming my doll head. That’s when people started catching on. They were like, 'Oh, this is artsy, this is scary.' It’s a brand now. The whole message behind it was don’t judge a book by its cover. Like, are you not gonna get open heart surgery because the surgeon looks a certain way?"
Yet, Makonnen was judged. Throughout his early years he dealt with feeling odd, pushed out and peers calling him weird. "I’ve always been felt like an outcast. Now I’ve come to my realization that what that meant was that I was gay," the rapper tells The Fader in a recent exclusive interview.
But it wasn't until January 20 of this year that Makonnen opened up and disclosed his identity to the world. The rapper used Twitter to liberate himself and imply he was stepping out with a few tweets alluding to him eventually confirming he was gay. He later expressed to the Willamette Week that his decision to move to Portland, Oregon, gave him the courage to embrace his sexuality. "Portland is a place where everyone is being themselves, so I just felt like, I'm living here, and I want to be able to be myself. I guess that's why I call it my home now."
As a fashion icon, I can't tell u about everybody else's closet, I can only tell u about mine, and it's time I've come out.— NEW Makonnen (@iLoveMakonnen5D) January 20, 2017
And since y'all love breaking news, here's some old news to break, I'm gay. And now I've told u about my life, maybe u can go life yours❤— NEW Makonnen (@iLoveMakonnen5D) January 20, 2017
Following his string of tweets, Makonnen set the record straight while speaking to The Fader on coming out. Boldly stating if the world was changing and President Donald Trump was about to be inaugurated, he had every right to go move forward with his announcement.
"I don't even know. It's just me and my life. I'm living. I'm 27. The world is changing, right? Donald Trump [was] about to make his big announcement on the goddamn 20th [of January]. Everybody know I'm gay and shit, so it's like, I might as well go ahead and make my little announcement to the world so I can move on with my life. I said whatever I said in my tweet, and then I moved on with it. Here goes America, let me focus on that!"
Tune in to Fuse and come back to Fuse.tv every day for profiles, videos, galleries and more on the individuals around the world who are creating Future LGBTQ History. Join the conversation with #FutureHistory and find Fuse in your area with our Channel Finder. Now, watch a 2014 interview with iLoveMakonnen talking dollheads and smash hit "Tuesday" on past Fuse series Trending 10.