A sleekly dressed M.anifest enters the JoyNews studio. He is right on time.
“Ready for the interview?” I ask. ‘‘Yes,’’ he says. “Thank you so much for your support”.
The interview hasn’t even begun but he is already in a state of gratitude. For someone who has been doing this for ages, humility sure precedes him.
Nervous at first, I relax knowing this is going to be a great interview.
In this interview we talk about the 2021 Grammys and lessons African musicians should take from the award scheme.
We touch on the Covid-19 pandemic and how it affected him.
In his new single the God MC does it again, lyrically captivating and inspiring the listener, this time featuring American rapper Vic Mensa and singer Moliy in his single NoFear.
He tells me about Gbeketee a dog he just met at the beach where he shot his music video. He also shares his thoughts on his father’s performance in the court room during the election petition.
This interview has been edited for purposes of brevity and clarity.
How has life been with Covid-19 and all?
Last year was very successful for me. It allowed me to pivot and do different things. Like go outside the normal of studio and shows. It allowed me to use my creativity beyond what people are used to. I also got a chance to record a lot.
Let’s take it back to the beginning of your career, why did you choose to go with the name M.anifest?
It was a struggle to find a name. It came through something that I was writing, a verse. You know in our culture your name is what precedes you. M.anifest had a spiritual essence and so it made sense to me. It was a complete accident that made sense.
Talking about spiritually. Are you spiritual or religious?
Definitely more of the spiritual vibe. I mean I cannot justify not being any kind of spiritual, being able to do what I do. It’s not a calculation, it’s not something that can be taught in school. You can be taught the mechanics but these things that come with it, is spiritual. It’s something that comes from within.
Tell me about M.anifestivites 2020. How was it?
It felt special. It was intimate. It was a challenge. It nearly didn’t happen but I felt like I put one of my best performances.
What’s the inspiration behind your new single NoFear?
The thoughts and the words just roll off my tongue. The idea of fearlessness is very important to me because I chose to walk the road less travelled. What is the use of fear? You have to have those days where you say to yourself that chale no fear.
What’s your biggest fear?
My biggest fear is that I will live a life unfulfilled and not realise the promise of my potential.
How do you plan on overcoming that fear?
By constantly working, doing what I am supposed to do and not being complacent. I want to contribute to the world more than I take from it. Allow myself to revaluate everything I do. Reflect, reflect, and reflect. Lastly go into beast mode.
Tell us about the dog that featured in your NoFear music video.
There was a young boy walking on the beach with his dog and it just tickled my fancy. I interacted with the dog and my director and I thought he should feature.
The most amazing thing about the dog is his name, Gbeketee which means night time in Ghana. I just liked the sound of the name.
Let’s talk about the Grammys and what it means for African musicians like you?
In particular, to Burna Boy, I think it’s an inspiring win. He has been putting quality music for a long time, with the same consistency. His team works very hard and they have made very strategic moves in the last couple of years.
It’s very inspiring for artists who dare to be different to see somebody like him win. I think it’s great.
We need to acknowledge when these barriers are being broken. To actually acknowledge that contemporary African music is worthy, is cool. We don’t need the acknowledgement but it is great because it’s breaking more doors. Big up to Burna Boy.
What did the Burna Boy’s Grammy win do to you personally?
Because I have a personal relationship with him obviously I was very happy for him. I was very much amused watching the discussions that took place here in Ghana.
All I was thinking is that I hope people take the right things from such events, which is number 1, congratulate and stop looking at it as a chance to throw dust in other people’s eyes.
Number 2, start looking at raising your bar and standards. I am only concerned that other young creatives will take the wrong cues from this. You should be inspired by other people’s progress.
How did it feel watching your dad (Tsatsu Tsikata) who was lawyer for the petitioner during the election petition, in action?
It’s like the Grammy wins, it’s very inspiring. He is brilliant clearly. It’s quite inspiring to see that at age 70, somebody has that kind of sharpness, dedication and rigour to his work. That tells me that when I am that age I should also have that same kind of vim.
The interview ends with a note of appreciation from the rapper. A shout out to all the people that have been supporting him. He promises to take his craft and art to higher heights. “Elevation, constant elevation” that’s what the God MC has in store for us this year.
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