Verge got to chat with London-based rapper and poet Manik MC to discuss his inspiration, what it’s like to live a day in his life, his plans and his collaboration with Foot Locker.
Foot Locker are providing a platform for emerging European talent as part of its 2019 Space Collection, bringing together various aspects of the culture spectrum through the mediums of light, dance and rap.
Q: Tell us how you got started in music?
A: To be honest, I kind of stumbled into it. I started writing when I was 11 or 12 years old, but it wasn’t until I was about 13 that I started getting into music. Before that I rapped a bit, wrote and performed spoken word. The writing just naturally progressed into music.
Q: What was one of your biggest inspirations to get into music?
A: It was a combination of artists from the UK and US – people like Nas, OutKast, The Roots, Skinnyman, Jehst, Kano. I just proper fell in love with rap and wanted to try it myself.
I started writing when I was 11 or 12 years old, but it wasn’t until I was about 13 that I started getting into music
Q: You’ve collaborated with artists from all different backgrounds and genres, how do you know when to collaborate with artists and when to make music on your own?
A: For me it’s really important that collaborations happen naturally when the music feels right, I don’t want to just collaborate for the sake of it. It’s also important to have a relationship where you can be honest and open – at the end of the day if the song isn’t right there’s no point. I just try and follow my gut really and let the music dictate.
Q: What has been your favourite track of yours so far?
A: I would probably say Shadows ft. Loyle Carner, it’s a really personal one for me.
Q: Walk us through a day in the life of Manik MC, what’s the usual for you?
A: Well, as an independent artist, I work most days! I try and make sure that whenever I’m not working for a wage, I’m in the studio working on new music and writing – this often leads to long days split between my job and music. Most days are pretty hectic!
Q: How would you describe your sound to any first listeners?
A: Somewhere between hip hop and grime.
It’s a great time to be coming up in the UK, there’s so many amazing artists out and the rest of the world is really engaging with UK music in a way it never really has
Q: What are your thoughts on the UK music scene at the moment?
A: It’s the strongest I’ve ever seen it. It’s a great time to be coming up in the UK, there’s so many amazing artists out and the rest of the world is really engaging with UK music in a way it never really has. Hopefully we can keep this going because it’s great to see the UK scene finally getting the cultural and commercial recognition it deserves.
Q: What is it like performing your music on stage and what do you do to settle those show jitters?
A: I love performing! I’ve been getting on stage since I was 14 years old, from open mics to spoken word slams. It’s such a rush – it’s almost addictive! I think you’re always going to get nerves to a degree, but I feel that once you have confidence in your art, those nerves change from fear to excitement and anticipation. I mainly get jitters in the last 5-10 mins before I go on stage – I just want to get out and get started!
Q: Do you have a favourite UK artist at the moment, who’s on your playlist?
A: There’s a few I’m really feeling; Slowthai, Kofi stone, Dave, Kojey Radical, FS&HG, Barney Artist, Children of Zeus, Loyle Carner – just off the top of the head.
Q: What’s one piece of clothing that you cannot live without?
A: I love baggy tees. I feel uncomfortable in really tight clothes.
It’s real hard coming up as an independent artist so when a brand as big as Foot Locker shows support it can make a massive difference.
Q: How do you feel about Foot Locker recognising you as a talent “Ready for Lift off” in 2019 and what are your thoughts on the brand providing a platform for young artists to take off?
A: I like what Foot Locker have done. It’s real hard coming up as an independent artist so when a brand as big as foot Locker shows support it can make a massive difference. Plus, it shows they are willing to invest in streetwear culture which can’t be said of most big clothing brands! You’ve got to respect it.
Q: What’s your favourite sneaker from Foot Locker’s 2019 Space Collection?
A: I’m torn between the TN’s and the Air Max 97’s. So, I would just advise people to cop both!
Pictured (from left to right): French dancer Malboneige, London-based rapper and poet Manik MC and new-wave Parisian rapper Prince Waly have partnered with Foot Locker to launch its 2019 Space Collection
Q: Do you have a key message you want to get through to your listeners with your music?
A: Honesty and authenticity, I want to be able to reach people the same way my favourite rappers did for me.
Q: What’s next for Manik MC this year, anything new we can look forward to?
I have a new EP called ‘Concrete Clouds’ which will be out at some point in 2019. I’m really excited to share the new project.
Q: What do you think the future of UK Hip-Hop looks like?
A: It’s hard to know. I think it’s constantly changing and evolving, so hopefully a new generation of artists will take the mantle and keep pushing and evolving the sound.
Q: What do you think similar artists need to do today to get their name out there and get a step above the competition?
A: Don’t just follow trends and mimic other people’s approach, find what works for you and run with it.
Other artists include South London rapper Yizzy, French dancer Malboneige, and new-wave Parisian rapper Prince Waly. The talents were carefully chosen for the impact they are making in their respective fields and are poised to really take off this year. Manik, Prince and Malboneige, who all naturally experiment with different styles and performance techniques, will work with innovative light artist Bob Roijen and perform inside an immersive light set which responds to both sound and movement, resulting in a mesmerising performance.
Each of the young talents will have the creative freedom to express themselves in a way that is unique to them, while Foot Locker provides them with the backdrop to let their talent shine. Their concepts will be imagined through co-created video content featuring the new, multi-branded Foot Locker SS19 Collection, featuring the Nike Air Max 720 and Air Max Tuned 1, Fila Ray Tracer, Reebok Daytona and ASICS Gel Quantums in futuristic, iridescent tones.
The new the Foot Locker SS19 collection is now available online and in stores across Europe.