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The best kept secret in music


"Payback is a Motherland"

Most African rappers hesitate to claim hip hop for Africa. "It's a good story," says Ghanaian-born M.anifest, smiling in a way that suggests he thinks Faada Freddy is full of something, all right (though he admires Daara J's live show). "Plus they named their CD Boomerang. Very smart marketing."

The wide-eyed 24-year-old born Kwame Tsikata is among the dozens of African-born MCs recording in the Twin Cities. He wears a yellow soccer jersey from back home, and plays random African rap favorites on his computer, sitting in his neat south Minneapolis home studio. To M.anifest, hip hop's more recent associations with Africa overwhelm the deeper historical ones. "Listen to this," he says, playing Canada-based Somali sensation K'Naan, who sounds like a soulful Eminem; Senegal's Positive Black Soul, who cover Savannah mambo kings Orchestra Baobab; South Africa's house-influenced TKZ; and fellow Ghanaian Reggie Rocksone, who raps over samples of rare '70s highlife records, in a fusion known as hip-life.

"Before Reggie, I had no clue there was African rap at all," says M.anifest. (See "Africa's Ultimate Beats and Breaks" for a beginner's guide to African hip hop.)

Over in Ghana, the popularity of American groups Das EFX and Naughty by Nature coincided with the nation's move toward formal democracy in the early '90s. "Hip hop happened unwittingly there," says M.anifest. "The music isn't necessarily political. It's a movement because of where it comes from."

Expressing himself in a gentle Accra accent, M.anifest explains how he grew up speaking English, Ghana's national language. Having moved to the Twin Cities six years ago to study economics at Macalester, he sounds more American on his deeply funky, jazz-chopping rap tracks, which he's brought to local stages for about a year. (Listen to his music below, or visit his Myspace page, www.myspace.com/manifestations.)

M.anifest revives a bit of melodic childhood gibberish in another of his native tongues: Twi (pronounced almost like "tree"). The title chorus of "Che Che Kule" is meaningless, he says. As with Anansi stories—the folk tales of the spider god that permeate Caribbean culture and provide the main characters for Neil Gaiman's latest novel—the tune of "Che Che Kule" crossed the Atlantic, surviving the Middle Passage.

"I have a friend from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, who says she knew that song," says M.anifest. "Another black American dude knew it from his grandma. He was like, 'I never thought someone would incorporate that into hip hop.'
- City Pages


"Manifestations" - 07-07-2007



M.anifest (Accra, Ghana – Minneapolis, MN) Hip-Hop/Soul/New African/Alternative

I nia long for the days//when my pen strays away from monotonous clichés and egotistical wordplay// The rap game is like the crack game: we all feens// I’m the pusherman serving u dope sixteens//

In a climate of over-saturation of cliché and disposable radio-driven Hip-Hop, only a few have the oratory, skill-level, and musicianship to go against the grain and still succeed. M.anifest immediately gives you the impression that he’s one of the few chosen. With an immaculate control of words, mastery of rhythm, a delightful library of vocabulary, and a penchant for raw and savory melodies, M.anifest’s star quality is immediately obvious. His unique voice, unique perspectives, combined with an honest and soulful expression is alluring for young and older Hip-Hop audiences alike.

The 24 year old artist (or “barely a quarter-century old” as he puts it) , and self-proclaimed ESL emcee currently residing in Minneapolis Minnesota, hails from Ghana (West Africa) where he fell in love with hip-hop in the eighties and early nineties. He vividly recalls rapping along to music from the likes of Naughty by Nature, Audio 2, Krs-1 and Boogie Down productions, Mc Lyte, LL Cool J, Public Enemy and later on Das efx, Nas, Tupac, Ice Cube, Wu-Tang, Biggie, Outkast, Pharcyde, Goodie Mob and a plethora of gifted Hip-Hop acts. The standards were set very high early.

Whether its his delightful polysyllabic wordplay, “represent Africa with a spectacular street vernacular” (Africa Represent) or poignant African-centered messages such as “no Jerri curls to impress no girls, I’m all natural” (Gentleman), M.anifest is able to swerve conforming to the limiting idea that Hip-Hop is about a set of familiar material and superficial experiences. The Ghanaian Hip-Hop ambassador further succeeds in being able to speak about the human condition from an African perspective by using alluring humor and quintessential Hip-Hop braggadocio such as “these new jacks can’t see me like a moustache on a new born” (Manifestations) or “I love to write like sugar hill loved to scream ‘hello’// my thoughts string together like a cello”

With his upcoming solo debut, “manifestations,” M.anifest, with majority help coming from his in-house production team – 4Shades, excites listeners with a vivacious, reflective, raw, lyrical, soulful, real to life and indubitably inspiring struggle music. It displays the depth and diversity of his musical and life experience with many genres from afro-beat to reggae, as well as a very refreshing and unique approach that only one from the motherland of rhythms could conjure.

Alongside his upcoming ’07 solo debut, “Manifestations”, audiences can prepare for a slew of groundbreaking and exhilarating releases from M.anifest in the near future. Upcoming projects include: a “Coming to America” Ep, an untitled collaboration with Belgian beat masters 40 winks, an “Epiphany” EP with this 4Shades musical family as well as a seminal opus from a currently hush-hush project known as the “ The Sexy Music Movement.” Africa approved and trans-nationally embraced, M.anifest is certain to have a career of relevance both to Hip-Hop and music in general – be advised to stay tuned.