With our latest installment of The Whole 9, we meet up with Queens native J. ManifestO, who recently dropped a new video So Live. His new Live From The Infinite EP is out now. Check out the interview below, and follow J on Facebook, Twitter and his website.
the9elements: Your sound occupies an interesting space between underground and new school. How would you describe your style?
J. ManifestO: I wouldn’t want to describe it. I would want the listener or fan to describe it for themselves. To me, there’s no real difference between underground and mainstream (or new school). All the artists make the same types of music weather it’s mumble rap with a hook or 1000 cipher bars straight through. That’s just the difference in popularity. I’m not sure where I’d fit as far as new school and underground. I guess technically I’m underground since I’m not famous yet.
Personally, I make music for people who like coming to their own conclusions to things. Listening for themselves. Picking apart rhymes for deeper meanings. Flow patterns. Double meanings without having to look them up on the Internet (no shots at genius lol). And for those who can’t decipher I’m just a lyricist. I’m into putting layers to my verses and songs no matter what the production sounds like or which flow I use.
T9E: People seem less and less willing to listen to an entire album as opposed to picking their favorite songs and leaving it there. Do you still believe in the concept of an album?
JM: I absolutely do. I’d hate to think I’m wasting my energy. I listen to albums still. It just requires more work on the actual artist and their brand in order for (new) fans to buy in. Realistically, nowadays people only listen to an album straight through once, MAYBE. You have to really be someone’s favorite to get a full album listen with full attention because 20 more rappers are dropping songs, tapes and albums right after yours. Especially if they’re not already a fan of yours. On top of the fact that people don’t just listen to music all day.
There’s so many things being thrown at people to consume at times, it’s like me, a relatively unknown rapper is competing with all the television shows, Facebook/Twitter feeds, ads seen in the city, the books, the audiobook, AND the music that a person is listening to already. All to get you to listen to my 6 song EP let alone an album. Older dudes might still listen to albums because they’re accustomed to. But younger dudes might not have that attention.
T9E: Do you feel people are listening to L.F.T.I. as a whole?
JM: Yes I hope so. It’s only 6 songs. If people can’t listen to 6 songs then there’s no hope for albums. I’ll have to put out one verse at a time on Instagram or something lol.
T9E: Where do you see your career in 20 years?
JM: I’ll probably be well off, old as shit in hip hop years and I’ll definitely be hating on whatever young cats is doing out there. Just for the sake of it. If there’s any role in hip hop that I think I can pull off is the old ass hating ass rapper. Screaming “back in my day…” on whatever the new social media is. Also I’ll be using the platform I’ve been building for 20 years to put new talent on.
T9E: How do you feel the new school of rappers compares to the old school?
JM: It’s pretty much the same. All of the new rappers are just the offspring of those before them. Music is so subjective I can’t fairly say what is dope or trash as a fact. Some of the new stuff I’d never listen to but some I enjoy. And some old school rappers I was never into at all. There were “wack” artists who dressed funny back then the same way there are super dope talented emcees now. So to older heads it seems like “traditional hip hop” is dead and the new “mumble rappers” are wearing dresses and ruining everything but that’s not the case.
We can’t be fooled by marketing and promotion for certain artists. Especially if you are an artist yourself. You should know the game at this point. The same way the labels had the capital to keep those conscious artists from the 80s in a good light is the same way they use money to keep the new artists in the public eye. Everything is where it was before you just have to find what you’re looking for yourself. So the only thing that really changed is how music is being fed or being discovered.
T9E: What advice do you have for upcoming rappers?
JM: Get as much as experience under your belt as possible. Do open mics, ciphers, rhyme in front of a mirror. Rhyme in front of your homies on the block. Rhyme in front of your little sisters teddy bears and dolls. Rhyme for your barber. Play your songs for your friends. Play your songs for your grandma. Before you start jumping on the Internet with your shit. Get thick skin. Be prepared to take criticism. Be prepared to not make money. But also be prepared to make millions. Learn the business side of music and apply it to yourself creatively. Invest in yourself. Learn about copyrighting. Learn about royalties. Learn new words. Take care of yourself.
Don’t be a shy rapper. Pay attention to how people listen to music. The Internet ain’t real life and it never will be, learn how to talk to people. Nothing beats a real life experience with a person. Be social. Most of all be yourself. In my past 10 years of rapping I haven’t done everything listed but for the most part they’re things I learned on the way.