Anyone up to date with the UK scene should be well aware of South London’s Mr Manage by now. Whether you’ve seen him tearing down stage shows, peeped one of his releases dating back to 1999, heard his work with in demand producer Chemo or know him as one of the faces behind London Hip Hop night “Speakers Corner”, he’s probably made a lasting impression.
With a solo album ready to drop any minute now, it was only right that Rish caught up with the man himself before he mashed up the Shepard’s Bush Empire in support of Immortal Technique. Having his hands in so many pies lead to a varied and comprehensive discussion; I know that you lot are some shallow pussyholes, so don’t let the length put you off…..
Easy Manage. You’ve been interviewed for the site before, but for anybody who doesn’t know who you are could you introduce yourself please?
I’m Mr Manage, South East London, MC, heard on the street for a long time, open mic specialist knamean? Boy, I’m in a crew called Chain of Command, part of the SIN Army. Yeah, just doing my thing man, South London, Mr Manage.
For people who haven’t heard you before, could you briefly describe what your music’s like?
It’s hard-hitting man. It’s real, it’s raw, it’s rugged, pulls no punches. It’s gritty. It’s just kind of like my thing bro, it’s exactly how it is.
You’ve got a lot of stuff in the pipeline, which we’ll get onto in a minute, but can you tell us what you’ve already got out? What you’ve featured on and what we can buy already?
I’ve done a lot of stuff in the past from my first single that came out in ’99. Then something came out in 2001, which was like an EP thing. After that the single was ‘Rise Up’ – it was a three song single. Then after that we did the next single ‘Riot’. The ones that are in the shops now are ‘Rise up’ and ‘Riot’. The other ones are too old now so you wont find them.
“… there’s a few people who really feel part of the movement and try to help it and to them people; keep it going man, Speakers Corner is riding with you …”
Like I was saying before, you’ve got a lot in the pipeline. For the last year or so you’ve been talking about a few different projects, so I’ll run through what you’ve been talking about then you can tell me if they’re still going ahead.
Your solo album?
A Killzone EP with Grimlock and Possessed?
No. That’s not happening. Not no beef like, we’re boys, just musical differences and everyone’s caught up doing different projects so we kind of just put that aside man.
A Chain of Command EP – you, Syanide and CLG?
And Scandal and Conflict. And DJ Snuff and Chemo and Beat Butcha. Chain of Command, yeah, that’s the main thing that we’re working on after my album. My album’s coming out first. My albums coming out August 3rd. We’ve been working on it since the ‘Rise up’ release really, for about a year and it’s coming out August 3rd on Merciless Records; its an unknown label, a new label endorsed by Speakers Corner. And then while we’re doing that, we’re doing a Chain of Command mixtape, not an EP, it’ll be a mixtape [Rogue State Mix Tape]. Some jacked beats, some original tracks and its just gunna be pure fire.
A SIN Army mix CD?
Well that’s the plan yeah. Basically Killzone stemmed onto that and we just decided to merge all the crews that we know. There’s so many members of SIN Army I can’t even tell you everyone that’s in you know? It’s just a merger of all the crews that we think are running the UK underground scene. It’s basically the top lyricists in the country. Like we got mans even up Liverpool like Antiheros and everything you know what I mean?
That’s what I was just about to ask you… is it mainly a London thing? Do you reach anywhere else other than Liverpool?
In all honesty, as far as I know, no. Up to Croydon, I suppose but Croydon’s London really innit. Yeah, basically it’s mostly a South London thing, but we’ve got people from all over really. Well, as far as Liverpool, that’s pretty far.
On the album you’ve got Skinnyman haven’t you?
Yeah, yeah, Skinnyman’s on there
I heard a rumour that somebody [not Manage!] paid Skinny £500 or a grand or something to be on their track. Was it hard getting him?
Nah nah, Skinny’s cool. You know what yeah? Everyone told me getting Skinny would be hard work ‘cause he’s here, there and everywhere. Basically, I rang Skinny and he was all good. I was like “look, do you wanna come on this track” and he was like “yeah yeah, I’m down for that” and everyone was telling me how he’s not gunna turn up so I rang him up the night before and he said yeah, then he rang me in the morning and said “yeah, I’m in Streatham” where the studio was at the time. And bam, we went and done it. He didn’t even hear the track before so he came down studio, sat in the studio for a little while, did it and then he went.
Yeah, Chemo’s old studio.
Didn’t that get jacked?
No, this ain’t that studio. That was another studio.
But he had a benefit yeah?
Yeah, we did a benefit for him.
Did that go well?
It didn’t go as well as planned. The club that we did the benefit for Chemo in kind of let us down on the sound. We did everything our end. Put out flyers everywhere, we got a load of people to come down and do PA’s for the love of Chemo. Tried to get some money back to build the studio. You know he’s worked with a lot of people, and done things for free for a lot of people so a lot of people wanted to pay him back. And we felt it right to do it at Speakers Corner. Really my boy Snuff there thought it was right we do that for Chemo and fly the flag really. And we did get a lot of people down, but you know at the end of the day the club let us down man. So yeah, it didn’t go as well as planned.
“… I think we have bigger line-ups then almost every Hip Hop night in London …”
Back to the album for a second. What sort of vibes can we expect from the album? Is it going to be your usual gritty style?
There will be some of that. I’ll tell you what, its different. I wouldn’t say there’s anything commercial on it; you know I don’t really go for the commercial thing. But there are some more relaxed songs. There’s at least two or three relaxed songs. You got a whole merge of different artists on there that bring different styles. I got a tune with big P and Nickels on it you know? And usually people wouldn’t associate someone who spits my style with someone like Big P. But its good, we all come together. There’s some road rap on there, there’s some straight lyricism on there, there’s some funny stuff on there, you know and there’s some reflective stuff on there as well. Conscious, political, it goes everywhere really.
In another interview you said, “if you don’t appreciate my music in its rawest form, then fuck you!” With such important messages on tracks like ‘Riot’, do you think your un-compromised style ever alienates listeners who you could be passing your messages on to?
No. I don’t think that I’m alienating them at all man. I think that at the end of the day, if they don’t like the music, they ain’t got to listen. I mean, the facts that I say on ‘Riot’ and so on are everywhere. You can gain that knowledge anywhere. So if they don’t like my music… oh well…
Have you got any more important messages coming up on the album or other projects?
Not overly important hahahahaha. Nah, of course it is. The albums called Live In Protest, which doubles as Live In Protest. That’s basically how it is. I see my life as I’m living in protest right now.
A lot of underground Hip Hop fans tend to share quite a lot of the same views and a lot tend to be quite liberal. Do you ever want to try and branch out and reach other people… try and educate people who think differently?
I don’t see it as my job to go out and educate them. I will do say edutainment. Like I do music, and I do what’s right for my people around me you know? As far as branching out and changing my music, what I like for other people to get into it, that’s never going to happen you know? There’s a few million people that like music like I do, and I do it for them.
Yeah man. But it goes a lot further than you might think. You work with Beat Butcha…. ‘In This For Life’ by Wordsmith and Beat Butcha is one of my little 14-year old sisters’ favourite songs. Last time I saw her, she even had it on her phone.
Yeah, I’m sure it does you know and it surprised me. I suppose I used to be a bit negative about it. I used to think I was being hated on by everyone! And only the amount of people that come up to me now and are like “yeah, you’re Manage” or the amount of e-mails I get…. I had one guy that added me on his MSN ting. He goes “is that really Manage? I don’t believe that’s Manage”, like I was someone pretending to be me. And I thought “woo… you know you’re famous when someone thinks someone’s pretending to be you”. So I don’t know man, I suppose it does reach a lot of people, and hopefully the message will get across to them people.
It’s about free speech. First and foremost, that’s what its about. You know, we have many different styles of artist come down. It’s a platform for people to come and get a message across and for Hip Hop as well. You know, every Hip Hop night in London, they charge quite a bit of money to get in and they often don’t deliver. I think we have bigger line-ups then almost every Hip Hop night in London, and we don’t charge to get in…. and we have an open mic.
[DJ Snuff] Its everything’s becoming stagnant. It’s going to go like Drum N Bass. Every fucking club – same DJ’s, same MC’s. You wanna see Hip Hop. You wanna see all the words that they’re spitting.
[Manage] We’re trying to unite everyone.
[DJ Snuff] We want people to meet each other and integrate ya know? Learn off each other and vibes off each other instead of just coming to see the same person again and again and again.
So, what artists have you had in the past?
[DJ Snuff] We’ve had everybody that’s approached us and people that we’ve approached ya know?
[Manage] We’ve had from the top: Foreign Beggars, Poisonous Poets, Skinnyman etcetera, down to the up and comings you know, like: Blind Alphabetz and Kraftsmen and Elite Team. We put on everyone as long as they’re good.
For people who are interested in going, do you want to tell them where it is and when it is?
Yeah, first Thursday of every month on Brixton Road, Brixton, at a club called the Jamm [Jamm, 261 Brixton Road, London, SW9 6LH. Brixton / Oval Tube. Buses: 133, 333, 159, 59].
As you said, it’s a platform. So for people who are interested in performing, how can they get in touch?
What are the plans for the future [of Speakers Corner]?
We’re looking on going into a concert thing innit. Looking on putting some big stuff on. Stuff like this basically [Immortal Technique at Shepard’s Bush Empire]. But yeah, as far as Speakers Corner, we’re gunna try and keep it free. Maybe when we build up a big enough fan base, then maybe move to a bigger place. But right now it’s just staying at the home of UK Hip Hop, Brixton.
“… There’s a few million people that like music like I do, and I do it for them …”
You also do some community work and charity work as well don’t you? Can you tell us any more about that?
There’s a lot of benefit gigs that go on, with people raising money for a certain thing and we often do them for free. We do that quite a lot actually; I’d say most of our shows are benefits. And kinda like the anarchist scene as well you know? ‘Cause the people that put out “Riot” were an anarchist movement, Konshus Sounds. Basically, since we got in with them we’ve been going all around the place doing a lot of good stuff, for the love of it really. And that’s as far as the community work goes. Obviously Speakers Corner is a community work, that’s a programme. We put people in studios through Speakers Corner, people who might otherwise be out thinking there’s no hope, ya know what I mean?
For people who can’t reach Brixton, is there anywhere else they can check you live?
Right now we’re planning a UK tour for the album innit, so hopefully in a city near you. August 3rd is the release date….
You get asked about this quite a lot but can we have a little chat about the G8? Just to clarify what the track was about, was it against the summit as you thought the whole thing was a waste of money and resources or was it more to put your views across to the people and to be considered by politicians?
I don’t really think politicians were going to here it; it was more for the people. It was more just looking at the G8, looking at what it was. And me and Sy[anide] thinking, “nah, fuck that, its bullshit”. You know what I mean? They’re coming over, it’s one of the biggest political events to come to Britain for so long and we thought, “nah, we’re going to represent”.
[DJ Snuff]DJ Snuff: It’s a cynical track, ‘cause they’re cynical people there. It’s easy to become cynical when you’ve got people in government that are as bad actors as that.
You aimed to get as many Hip Hop heads up to Gleneagles as you could. Did that go to plan?
We were setting up coaches; we were setting up minibuses and a lot of things. But I’m sorry to say, but the UK Hip Hop nation was not interested. Nobody wanted to pull their finger out and help us out with getting us up there, just a few people. And we went up there and we didn’t really see anyone. I think we saw The Ruff from Manchester. Nobody really you know, just us that we took up there. Fully Blunt were up there as well, a crew from London.
So what was the media support like for “Riot”? If I’m correct, Channel U wouldn’t play the video….
Did you get support from anybody else?
Yeah, Hip Hop Game. They showed us love. They’ve still got the video up there now. We just basically put it out via our own means, just across the net. We knew it would just be an internet thing really and a hand to hand thing. And that’s how it stayed. We were in a real rush to get the video done because of the timing for the G8. It was done in one day.
I’d imagine that the media were scared to play it because of the message, but why do you think such a message is so threatening?
There’s a number of reasons. If we thought that Channel U would play it, I wouldn’t be wearing a T-Shirt that says “Fuck the G8”, ‘cause they’re not gunna play that. You know, they don’t want to get into politics. Or they want to keep it behind closed doors. That’s not what they want to show kids is it?
“… It’s just a merger of all the crews that we think are running the UK underground scene …”
At the end of the track you said that the money spent on the summit could have eradicated AIDS in Malawi. Do you not think that the money that was spent on the summit had a greater benefit afterwards?
Have you seen any change?
Nah, no man. Not at all.
Before we wrap it up have you got any final political words?
Nah, not a political message man, this is Hip Hop haha.
Haha, what about any shout outs or plugs?
Shout out to Chain of Command, that’s it, that’s my crew right there. SIN Army. Everyone who knows me basically. Anyone who’s supported my music man. Anyone who’s been with Manage for the long run and seen me go from being rubbish to actually trying to get somewhere on this UK scene ya know? Yeah, and all the UK Hip Hop movers, all the people that are trying to put something back into it. A lot of people are just taking out but there’s a few people who really feel part of the movement and try to help it and to them people; keep it going man, Speakers Corner is riding with you.
August 3rd is the Manage album, Live In Protest. Chain of Command is undisclosed, we’ve got to record it first.
Cool, I’ll definitely keep a look out for them. Thanks for your time.
Thanks a lot.
And there we have it my Hip Hop fiends. Don’t forget, Speakers Corner is the first Thursday of every month, at Jamm in Brixton. Entry’s free and BYOsB…no, not booze…bring your own soap box (sorry… that’s just me being…hmmm… funny???). If all the talk of politics is putting you off, don’t worry; first and foremost it’s a party so get down and… get down. The next one on 7th Sept features Sunkenheads, Genesis Elijah, LG & Biscuit, Micall Parknsun, Dubbledge, Blufoot and more…click the flyer halfway up the page for more details.
If you haven’t caught Live In Protest’s launch date of 3rd August yet, you’re probably a little bit blind. In that case, I can only suggest you go out and buy it, seeing as it may well prove to be an eye opener. You’ll be able to pick it up nationwide at all good record stores from 1st September. The album includes sure-fire posse cuts such as “Speakers Corner” to the more gritty ”Change The Theme”. The LP comes in a similar vein to classics such as CNN’s “The War Report”, both sonically and thematically. I think it’s clear which offering has the best MC, but to see which you prefer, you’ll have to go out and buy it…