At the forefront of its industry are M.anifest, an artist who the UK’s Guardian newspaper labelled, “the foremost rapper on the continent” and his rival Sarkodie.
As part of his commitment as a cultural ambassador for the Ghana South Africa Business Chamber, M.anifest is currently in South Africa for a trade mission.
He’s also been taking the opportunity to work on some music and connect with friends.
Last week, he shot a music video for an upcoming song he has with Mi Casa.
It’s a song that came about after Mi Casa’s management reached out to his team.
They’d met a few years ago at the Channel O Music Awards, so when the request for a feature came in, M.anifest didn’t hesitate one bit. “I was like, ‘Yeah, of course. I was working on some new music and there was something we were busy on that I thought was perfect for this. Then I chopped it up with J’Something over the phone. Shout out to technology. Then we just made it happen, it was quite organic.”
M.anifest comes here often, but it’s usually for work. “I haven’t reached the level where I just come here to chill,” he laughs. He is hoping to be back again in June and July for a few gigs that are still in the pipeline.
His feature with Mi Casa won’t be his first time he will be working with South African artists. He’s worked with the likes of HHP, Stogie T, Kwesta and Nomisupasta. He believes that collaborations are a useful way of reaching a wider audience and also creating a unique blend of music.
He talks me through how he came to work with Nomisupasta. “During one of my trips here, I was being driven to the airport and somebody was playing her song. It immediately caught my attention and I was just like, ‘Who’s that?’ It was mentioned to me but I didn’t note down her name because I was travelling. Maybe about a year later, I was in London for a tour called Africa Express and her sister, Thandiswa, was on it and I was describing the song and she was like, ‘That’s my sister’.”
They ended up working on Cupid’s Crooked Bow which was part of Nowhere Cool, an album that he released in September last year. I ask him if he’ll be blessing us with some more music this year. “Who knows? Maybe,” he laughs. “I mean it’s the 10th year since my first album so that’s kind of significant to me. I want to make the most of this year. I can barely believe I’ve made it to 10 years. I feel like I just started. I’m definitely looking to put out more collaborations this year. I’ve been recording as if I didn’t just record a new album.”
Lately, M.anifest has been experimenting with his music, trying to explore different soundscapes in an attempt to create a project with an even longer lifespan than his previous projects. In an attempt to stay away from following trends, he’s challenged himself to innovate and find new ideas to bring to life.
Looking back at the past 10 years, he recalls how, when he released his first album, Manifestations, he told himself that if it didn’t make any significant impact, he would stop making music. “I said that not because I didn’t love it but because I’d say, ‘You know what, I love this thing but maybe it might not be my calling’.”
Today, it’s clear that it most definitely was.