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INTERVIEW: M.anifest says “I’ve been in love with music longer than Mugabe has been president”

As soon as we found out M.anifest was going to be in Lagos, we just knew there was no way we could let him come and go without being a major distraction in his life. Yup, so we did it. Chased him down to where he was staying, invited him over to the office and generally arranged to constitute ourselves into his life. Turns our he’s cooler in real life, full of wit, charm and interesting conversation. Plenty vim, Chale.

I grew up with balance. Being well educated but being exposed to a life with little or no pretence. Knowing people across different spectra of society taught me a lot; from poor righteous to rich scandalous and everything in between. I’ve also been exposed to the world; it has opened my eyes and broken my limits.

I’ve been in love with music longer than Mugabe has been president. Well not quite, but it’s been a persistent passion as far as I can and can’t remember. Fortunately I had the gift of writing. In my teenage years, I combined that gift with my love for music. As I grew older I dug deeper into the music. It’s been a magical journey of growth ever since.

I’ve been writing since I was a kid but I learnt to rap by reciting rap songs I loved. From Kris Kross to Naughty by Nature to Queen Latifah to Pac, Fugees, Nas, B.I.G, Jay-z, Wu-Tang the list goes on. It’s a curious way of learning to rap cause you don’t realize you’re studying flows, cadence, wit and all that by learning other people’s raps. Pausing and pressing play on the cassettes while transcribing lyrics. Chale I laugh when I remember those days.


I would tell every young artiste: Don’t copy. Take your art seriously the way doctors, professors and any serious professional would. Lastly don’t take advice, including mine, follow your heart.

Right now, I’m working on an EP called “Apae” we just released the first single from it called “ebei (dream killers)” and it has got the Internet going cashew nuts. Amen.

The way I dress is just a contemporary style I’ve culled from what I know and dig. Funny enough there is a picture of me when I was 4 years old dressed the same way. As for the neckpieces it’s just floss. Rappers love chains you know.

The worst thing rappers do these days is Lying and exaggerating like politicians do. Believability and wow factor can be so low sometimes. On the flip side, it creates an atmosphere where people crave the real a lot so artists like Kendrick Lamar who come in with a lot of talent, original angles, and stories are getting embraced.

The good thing about Hip hop is how music and production has evolved in a dope way. Big, banging and cinematic beats. Also, gone are the days when everyone had to sound like music from NYC. Now Hip-Hop is made from whatever angle relates to the creator. It’s more innovative that way. Especially for us Africans when we bring our rhythms and sensibilities to it.

More than anything else, I have worked hard to push the limits of my creativity and not feeling entitled. I once tweeted “entitlement is standing under a mango tree waiting for mangoes to fall yet bitching & moaning when someone else climbs the tree to get them.” So for me it’s been about shedding these types of feelings and putting in work. I’ve been blessed to have played all over from Spain to Ireland to S.A to France to across the U.S. And also working with legends from Damon Albarn (Gorillaz), Flea (Chili Peppers), Tony Allen, Erykah Badu and more. Entitlement didn’t make any of those things happen.

The toughest thing I ever had to do -aside from closing my myspace and hi5 accounts- is having to spend more time on the business and strategic side of my career. I used to spend majority of the time recording, playing shows, and putting out music randomly. However, to take things to the next level I’ve had to put in more work on the business and strategic side.

If I could start over I would have quit my day job when I put out my first album in 2007. Took me 2 years after my 1st album to become a full-time musician. I’m a bigger risk taker now.

The dopest line I’ve heard in a song this year has to be in James Blake’s “Retrograde”. That song is ridiculous. I love E.l’s Hallelujah song too, biases aside. I think Frank Ocean said something like “I hope my black skin don’t dirt this white tuxedo before the Basquiat show and if so Well fuck it.” That’s just so Hip-Hop and a loaded statement. Then he goes on about “this water drown my family/ This water mixed my blood/ This water tells my story/This water knows it all.” Crazy and visceral. I’m all about that.

I’m planning on working with many artists I respect from Naija. Asa is dope. Burna Boy has been putting out some dope jawns. Lots of folks online want to see that M.anifest & M.I collab I hear. Shoutouts to M.I. Shoutouts to eLDee as well who was the first Naija artist I collaborated and to Femi Kuti who I was honored to play with in Spain.

I’ve enjoyed working with my producers Budo, G Mo & the rest of 4shades. They make me go ham bacon and fufu on my musicianship. HHP from South Africa and I had a ridiculously awesome session recording. That tune is mad and not out yet. Definitely enjoy working with E.L; we have chemistry and it’s been easy making epic joints together. Damon Albarn, Tony Allen and Flea were just so chill to work with too. Creativity overdose in those sessions we had in London. Learnt a lot.

The future for me has too many things in the pipeline to list. Folks should follow me on twitter and IG: manifestive. We’re about to release a lot of ridiculous songs and videos and get our touring on. More vim in store chale. Don’t blink, you might miss something.


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