The title of Keiynan Lonsdale’s debut studio album, “Rainbow Boy,” is a tribute to his child self ― the one, he says, who hasn’t lost his belief in magic.
That description may lead some to believe Lonsdale would follow up his crush-worthy roles on The CW’s “The Flash” and 2018’s gay teen comedy “Love, Simon” with a collection of cutesy love ballads. Instead, the Aussie actor and singer offers an intensely personal, sonically ambitious look at his life as a Black queer man.
Of course, Lonsdale still wants to have fun, as evidenced on the album’s first single, “Rainbow Dragon.” The song’s lyrics find him clapping back at his bullies while dropping cheeky allusions to marijuana and oral sex.
“I spent a lot of time trying to break out of boxes, whether they were placed on me or ones I put myself in, and rebelling against false ideas of what it means to be a man, what I’m allowed to sing about,” he told HuffPost. “I want to uplift and empower people who, like me, haven’t heard songs like this and need to. This is a new level in terms of my own story.”
Released May 29, “Rainbow Boy” defies easy classification. Its 14 tracks run the gamut from pop to R&B and rap. “White Noise,” for instance, is a politically charged rebuke that riffs on classic Motown, while the sexy “Magic Mickey” recalls Lenny Kravitz and Craig David at their boldest.
What makes “Rainbow Boy” compelling is Lonsdale’s willingness to tap into the emotions he’s felt and reflect the adversity he’s encountered since going public as his authentic self three years ago. The 28-year-old, who is part Nigerian, shrugs off labels like “gay” and “bisexual,” saying only that he’s attracted to men and women.
“This is the first time I’m out in the world and not worrying if the way I walk, talk or dance is something that will be embraced,” said Lonsdale, who has described the album as “queer AF [and] Black AF” on social media. “I’m just focused on how good it feels.”
Lonsdale wrote all of the “Rainbow Boy” tracks with producer Louis Futon in Los Angeles.
1.We are the Children
2.Gay Street Fighter
5.Ancient One (feat. Project Peters)
6.Rhythm & Music
9.I Confess My Love
13.One Man (feat. Toshimi McHugh Yagi)
14.On My Wave