If you’ve been checking out any music publication lately then you’ve probably noticed the string of artists they are lauding as “the next big thing”. Good or bad it must be an honor for any artist to be featured and it’s also a great way to freshen up on whatever you’re spinning. I wrote about Mano after I stumbled onto his music through a friend; everyone’s either DJ’ing or remixing these days and some have proven to go above and beyond. Others are just hopping on the band wagon and trying to keep up with the pack. URB magazine recently released its “Next 100″ and Mano is one of those featured; his tracks had a je ne c’est qu about them. He was gathering inspiration from genres as far apart as juke, house, and rap music to concoct his signature style. I was fortunate enough to be able to catch up with him while he was on tour with MIA in Mexico. He’s a genuine guy and at 23 he is blazing his own trail to stardom while keeping his wits about him and staying what appears to be quite humble.
TR: How was Mexico?
Mano: Insane! I’m still here…we do a show with the Beastie Boys in Mexico City on Saturday.
TR: Oh, that’s fierce man. You’re moving really fast in 08: video with cameo, DJ’ing for the fam in Chi town and for other acts. What else is in the pipeline?
Mano: Yeah shit is about to be real insane; a lot of things will unravel this year.
TR: How do we go from Emanuel from Chi town all the way to Million Dollar Mano? (Traveling from
Mexico to Japan and working with everyone from Kanye to MIA)… What’s your background?
Mano: I’ve been DJ’n and producing since I was in 8th grade; been grinding extra heavy (Emmanuel and Mano are two entities). I’ve been Mano since I was born but Million Dollar was a joke; I actually wanted to try to buy Ted Dibiase “The Million Dollar Man’s” million dollar title belt. Its just one of those super stunt’n things to be. Like “I got the million dollar man fuck’n belt.”
TR: We all got dreams man lol
Mano: Being a kid and watching wrestling I always thought it was sooo gangster that he was like “fuck the WWF belt I’ll make my own.” Ha! But yeah, Million Dollar Man – Million Dollar Mano; People liked it and it was like the people almost gave it to me. It’s this bigger than life name and that’s like my lifestyle but I’m soooo humble at the same time. So it’s funny when peeps see me they be like YO MILLION DOLLA! I’m like “cuz, just call me mano,” but they like to call me that, ha!
TR: I have to say though, you’ve done more than most people at 23
Mano: Yeah! You’re right but I have a long way to go.
TR: Good to always challenge yourself. Can’t sleep on your own game.
Mano: 2-pac was 25 and accomplished all he did before 26; So yea now is the time! The time to go HARD!
TR: I like your gusto man. What or who are your influences past or present?
Mano: To sum it all up I’m a connoisseur but I’m a connoisseur’s “connoisseur.”
TR: Do tell…
Mano: I’m influenced by the universe and all its inhabitants: good and bad, future and present, hot and cold, lies and truth, black and white, on and off. Hahahah! I can just keep going; everything that has a cause and effect.
TR: Your music itself reflects that. Bel biv devo to digitalism. How do you like it that kids in the hood dig Mano and hipster kids in Willisburg dig Mano as well? It’s all good all around, but it seems though you reach out to so many different types of people.
Mano: Well, I’m all those kids. Like I grew up in a lower middle class neighborhood right outside the city in a town called Dixmoor in the Chi. I was exposed to a lot through my parents and Chicago. Making juke or ghetto house and still going to b-boy functions – breaking, graf, and all of the above “back pack shit”
TR: it’s just really interesting how Chi gave us Lupe, Kanye, Common and then turns around and throws us Flosstradamus, and Kid Sister. It’s kind of a huge hotspot right now for music.
Mano: Yeah. Well we are a well diverse city and very segregated.
TR: how so?
Mano: It just is. If you ever look at our city’s structure you’d see the segregation.
TR: What’s the creative process like when you set out to work on a project for yourself or someone else? Are there any pre-reqs?
Mano: A lot of stuff is random; Just really gotta have the artist vibe; It’s hard for me to make something very good when forced.
TR: I’m a graphic designer I know the feeling. How did you get hooked up with Kanye’s GOOD music label?
Mano: My old manager, J Street, hooked me up with one of the coolest and most talented person I know-GLC. He’s Kanye’s best friend and is an artist on his label. I produced a song for him called “Haterville” and he loved the beat (even Kanye did). He was going to throw a verse on the song but he didn’t because he wanted GLC to get his rightful shine
TR: That’s dope, how’d you wind up doing a cameo in Estelle’s new video?
Mano: Hahaha. That’s what u are talking bout! Not me, that’s my good friend Donnis.
TR: No way! Trev said it was you! Lol…
Mano: I also DJ for him and produce some things and everyone thought he was me in the URB next100 last year but I’m in this year’s issue that actually just dropped this month. So yayyy for me! Funny thing is his road manager came up to him and was like, “Hey Mano!” Oops I’m sorry! Lol…
TR: Hells, I will have to pick that up man. I have to say man, it’s really inspirational to see a young guy doing what he loves. Its cats like you and other guys that I get to work with that make me go “wow, time to get that game up and 1up.”
Mano: I appreciate that, that’s more inspiration right there
TR: What are your plans after Mexico? I have to find time to make sure I can come out and see you when you’re near.
Mano: Umm…come to the crib for a couple of days then fly to NYC for a show with me and Hollywood. From NYC I go to
Austin for SXSW; then SXSW to LA; then LA to FL for spring break parties and WMC.
TR: Hahah when do you sleep?
Mano: Never 4 to 5 hrs a day! Ha! “I never sleep cause sleep is the cousin of death” – Nas
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