What do you do when it’s your birthday and you’re an artist? You do what you’ve been doing on any other day of the year. Create art.
Musicians are often inspired by things around them. Good artists create music that can be seen as a reflection of what they have experienced. With each passing year, we live and learn. Manga, known as Manga Saint Hilare has immortalised his current mind state by transforming his thoughts into lyrics and surrounding them with beats.
To celebrate his birthday in July, Manga released a song called, Happy Birthday. A smooth track made by Drae Da Skimask which starts with a reggae sample that made me do a bad impression of a rastaman skank.
“I’ll never go where paigons go. Never do what the heathens do”
This isn’t a random sample. It set the tone for a narrative that Manga carried throughout the song. The balance between living surrounded by antics that are often spoke about when describing council estates and actively trying not to get sucked in. Instead, trying to understand himself better amongst the madness as the years past and progress musically.
Evolved from back in the day, I was so scatty / There with a bag of youts hanging in the alley / Watch them put the food in the baggy / gas and a flick knife in the tracky / I was tryna’ figure out why we’re so angry / Lucky escape ‘cause the roads never gassed me
Getting older gives a perspective on things that we’ve done. Whether good or bad. It allows us to reflect with the intention of self improvement. It’s a long road. You may know Manga from Roll Deep. Handpicked by Wiley to join the crew, it gave Manga a chance to change his situation. Since then, Manga has amended his name and changed direction when it comes to the sound of his music.
Some people may only know the hype side of Grime. The newly fond incorporation of moshpits and throwing water all over the place. But Grime music has always had a cool retrospective vibe and Manga’s last 4 projects have leaned more towards a smoother side. I had this conversation recently about the different sounds of Grime and how songs like ‘Happy Birthday’ are still of the genre. I was told otherwise. Considering the person was younger than I was I told them to listen to Dizzee Rascal ‘Do It’.
Once you listen to Dizzee talk about his feelings about the situations he finds himself in, you’ll understand why songs like ‘Happy Birthday’ should be championed. Not everyday slew an MC. Sometimes be reflective and honestly explain your thoughts on a slow bass heavy beat. To be fair, Manga has been putting in this level of work for a while now. A standout project for me was ‘Lunchtime In Arts School’ which was in the same vein. Musically hard beats and lyrics that were more descriptive about what he has experienced in his life.
Although you’ll find Manga touring the globe doing shows, unfortunately, this hasn’t resulted in commercial success. This may explain the last bars of the song where he expressed his thoughts of last year being his last year in music. The music game is a maze. Speaking as an outsider with glimpses into the industry, it seems to be a place were dreams are made and destroyed.
With Sian in Visions talking about the vision / And all this disconnect and division
Fortunately, his friends had some encouraging words which reignited his passion. He’s back in the studio and doing what he loves. Creating art. Even on his birthday where we would expect him to be in a party somewhere, Manga was working in a studio. Selfishly, I’m fine with this because it resulted in new music which is a present for us all.