Readers, we have sat on this single for WEEKS, filled to the brim with intense anticipation for its release. Today is the day.

We can say, with absolute confidence, that this will likely be the single of the year. In our professional opinion, and IT IS OUR PROFESSION, this is a track that will embody every emotion we feel as we pull out of this pandemic. It’s a song about freedom, loving yourself, and leaving the past behind– and somehow, Cuee and Joel Leoj have captured this volcano of emotions in just under three minutes. “Ain’t Going Back” is, without a doubt, the happiness anthem for 2021.

After gaining national attention this Summer on an official Spotify playlist featuring trans artists, Cuee (who had recently transitioned at the time) decided it was time to record some music in his “new” voice. “Ain’t Going Back,” featuring Joel Leoj, is the first track to come our way.

Make no mistake, this is a track that puts unapologetic black, queer happiness in the forefront. Joel Leoj is Cuee’s high school friend and musical partner who followed him to Lawrence from Chicago, and the rapper makes an extraordinary entrance into this thrilling track. Cuee pops in at a couple of minutes in to echo the sentiments of never dwelling in the past, looking hopeful towards the future– and when he proudly declares “I’m the man, I’m the man now!” it hit all our warm fuzzies. Imagine knowing someone that happy and comfortable and confident after finally getting to live in their true identity! That’s what we want for all our queer friends! The feeling is so immense, it toppled us over.

The lyrics and upbeat piano banging away in the background are exactly the vibes we need coming out of this quarantine. We’re starting to get vaccinated, and most of us will be by the end of the Summer. Our regular lives are so close, we can almost reach out and touch it. What this song does, is give us a swift kick towards that goal. Well, maybe not a kick. More like a comforting pat on the back, guiding us toward our dreams. This is also representative of the symbiotic relationship Cuee has with Lawrence. This town lifts him up every time he hits that stage, and he is bringing Lawrence along for the ride as he creates art and heads towards greatness. Cuee loves Lawrence, Lawrence loves Cuee (dawwww).

The video, shot at Danforth Chapel with Director Jacob Schermerhorn, was just released in time for Valentine’s Day, which we should have guessed considering the love Cuee shows for this community through his music.

Mark our words, this is the song that should blare out of every venue and dance floor when the music scene fires up again. You can watch the video for “Ain’t Going Back” below, and we’ll see you all in a few weeks.



Fally Afani is an award-winning journalist with a career spanning more than 20 years in media. She has worked extensively in radio, television, newspapers, magazines, and more.

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