“You wanna be king, get your ass in line”
Everyone admits to M.anifest’s style and intellect, but we’ve always treated him like an upscale restaurant; known by many but engaged by a few.
Perhaps until now…
M.anifest on Thursday June 30, released a new single off his forthcoming #NoWhereCool project. And God MC has since then, caused mammoth pandemonium, at least on social media. On Twitter for instance, he’s been trending since, and he appears to go nowhere for a while longer. Those three verses will also be some of the most memorable of all M.anifest rap.
The song, a million quotables on a highlife sample, has attracted rapid notice for perceived digs at rapper Sarkodie, among others. Now, it is not unusual of Sarkodie to brag about anything, especially about being far ahead of everyone else; two out of every three songs he releases confirm that, and several people have referred to him as braggart, the latest being hiplife veteran-turned pastor, Lord Kenya.
In the past three months or so, the U Go Kill Me star has released Take it Back and Bossy (ft. Jayso), which are infinite adulation of himself and his prowess. In those two songs (and several others before them), he has referred to himself as the best, boss, rap king, etc.
And it’s not for nothing, for Sarkodie has gone on to record unprecedented achievements to back these claims; popping up on Forbes lists, winning countless awards including a BET Award for Best international Act: Africa in 2012, selling out the prestigious international venues as the Apollo Theatre (New York, USA) and O2 Arena (London, England). At this point, he’s probably Ghana’s most commercially successful rapper yet. There’s hardly a doubt there.
This seemingly has left several other equally talented Ghanaian rap acts “coming second” on many occasions.
“When the boss is around who can you boss around?”
On M.anifest’s God MC though, he appears to have severe convictions on the state of rap in the country, which many would say Sarkodie pretty much is king over, at this point. For one thing, that he, M.anifest is god mc.
The refrain, “What’s a king to a god mc?”, might have been mined from the chorus of Jay Z and Kanye West’s No Church in the Wild, but it gets the message across all the same. The chorus to No Church in the Wild, sung by Frank Ocean goes: “human beings in a mob/what’s a mob to a king/what’s a king to a god/ what’s a god to an unbeliever who don’t believe in anything?”
M.anifest has often been a source of controversy (subtly so, though). On Keep Shining for instance, he raps, ‘ me, I always knew Azonto had an expiration date”. That might, till date, be the most critical anyone has been on the sub-genre, which was a ubiquitous craze around 2010. Other sample lines include: “I was first back in May, I’ll be first down in December”, and “[I’ve] been the man for so long, had you questioning your gender”
He’s been widely seen to be the model Ghanaian rapper; creative, clever, soft-spoken, original in melody and dressing, scandal- free, respectful, possessing lyrical substance, and mindful of musical heritage –the whole package.
This has made him the darling of even the most critical of music critics. Here, I’m specifically referring to mogul Mark Okraku- Mante. And though he’s won GMA Rapper of the Year in 2013, he has yet to gain as much popularity as he perhaps deserves.
Many have blamed this on his outstandingly technical rap style. One day, while returning from Gordon’s wedding a Tema, Kate Hansen and I were, in the backseat of Gilbert’s red Prizm, rapping to M.anifest’s No Shortcut to Heaven. We could not keep up with his wordplay, fumbling over several of his rhymes. My little sister resigned saying, “ it’s too tedious to rap along to M.anifest”. I assume that it is the sentiment of numerous other listeners of M.anifest. After all, he’s the kind of rapper who will use such verbs as “juxtapose” and adjectives like “atrocious” in a simple song. “Califragilisticexpiali” is bound to take you by surprise, and requires effort to memorize, don’t you agree?
So like D-Black sometime back, “dumb down”, then, so you get “wider reach”? M.anifest won’t budge; “we [are] some intelligent niggers that cannot dumb it down”, he retorts sharply in God MC, and then goes on, “even my non-fa rap back then had sense in it/ difference between me and them, you are sensing it”.
Here’s another extract from the song; “E go shatter ceilings, it’s a game changer/ god mc never been a faker/ I dey go see Shatta [Wale] for Mahama paper/ my guy Obidi, let me return the favour/ you know what time it is, later…is greater”
And that, specifically, is what is being deciphered as Sarkodie diss. But Sarkodie and Shatta Wale may not be the only top artists in “focus”. This next line might be reference to dancehall act Stonebwoy Burniton: “ don’t turn me into stone, boy, I’m a ruler”.
As usual, M.anifest squeezes in social commentary: “Ghanaians [are] so concerned about diplomas and awards/titles and a bible, I find it absurd/ went from Inspector Bediako to Khumkhum Bhagya, progress or regress…”
On local rappers’ obsession with foreign fashion; “tell the fashion police they can make an arrest, these boys copying the west, looking a mess, its retarded”.
The above line might also be troublesome, for the devil is in the detail –for his O2 concert, Sarkodie sported a tattered outfit, or if you like, looked a “mess”, wearing clothing made by rapper and designer Kanye …West!
Often, greatness happens to outsiders, and here, M.anifest celebrates his eccentricity: “for the underdogs and outlaws go get yours Yes we dey form, no we no go conform”, “ …I’m a rare form”, “ though I often write, mu default is to go left”.
With God MC too, M.anifest makes the loudest claim at Ghanaian rap royalty yet. He has done that by associating with two of the most influential rap albums in the country, Reggie Rockstone’s Makaa Maka, and Obrafour’s Pae Mu Ka, but he’s done being diplomatic about it: “Don’t measure your pen with mines, you pantomime and asinine”, “Don’t use my name in vain, that’s just for starters/ Hors d’oeuvres I got some nerve/ On my Djokovic fear me when I dey serve/And you wanna be king? / Get your ass in line”
And if you take exception to it, well, “vex for your corner”.
What’s a king to a god mc?
Like the last words we hear on the song, damn, that shit was dope.
#NoWhereCool will be Manifest (born Kwame Ametepe Tsikata)’s fifth studio album. It is scheduled for release in the coming months.
Listen to God MC here: