Los Angeles native and Def Jam signee, Mann, leaks “Kickin’ It Wit The Lingo” off of his upcoming mixtape “Near Life Experience”, dropping next Monday, April 12th.
Art thrives on new voices. Music, in particular, tends to take major steps forward when emerging acts arrive on the scene with a fresh perspective. Emerging from Los Angeles is Mann, an 18-year-old rapper wise beyond his years whose fresh, positive, inspiring outlook on life provides his debut album, Mann’s World, with a remarkable vibrancy.
“It’s a young world,” Mann says. “It’s about being young and enjoying life. Right now, our world is so down and so negative because of what’s going on. My world is the opposite of that. My world, everything is on the up and up. I appreciate everything that I have and everything that I’ve gone through to make it to where I am today. The world needs an outlet and the kids need an outlet to be happy. I feel like I can do that with my music.”
Mann’s World lives up to its author’s proclamation. The high-powered collection serves as a coming-of-age soundtrack for today’s generation. Featuring polished, exquisite production from Jonathan “J.R.” Rotem (Rihanna, Sean Kingston, Jason Derulo), Fingaz (Snoop Dogg), and Rob Knox (Justin Timberlake) among others, the album includes an optimistic outlook on life, as well as several examinations of the highs and lows of romantic relationships.
“Every man can relate to that and every girl wants to hear a guy try to get at them,” Mann says. “Every boy growing up is going through it with girls, especially at my age. Every girl wants to know what a guy’s thinking. That’s the best way to get into their ears, by giving them what they want. At this age in my life, it’s something I can relate to.”
Mann showcases his confident, fly side on “MVP” and proclaims his allegiance to girls from his home state on the celebratory “Cali Girls.” Then, on lead single “Text” featuring Jason Derulo, Mann delivers a future smash that encourages his lady to shoot him a private message. The song has a special significance for Mann, who is sure that listeners will gravitate toward the cut. “Nobody really talks on the phone anymore, or they despise talking on the phone,” he says. “A lot of people I know don’t even have the phone feature on their phone anymore. They just text. It’s so much easier, so everybody’s going to feel the song.”
Though much of Mann’s World covers life’s high points, Mann showcases his versatility by crafting the insidiously clever “Cupid.” The song’s aggressive rock vibe matches his goal of killing the god of love. It’s a statement cut, one that highlights Mann’s ability to use his vulnerability as the creative catalyst for memorable music.
Although many rappers are unwilling to put their personal pain, frustration and anger on display, Mann believes that doing so makes him a more genuine artist. “If I’m going to try to hide who I am in my music, then there’s no reason for me to do it,” he says. “I can be the player, but I can also be the person who got played – and that’s every human. Everybody tries to act like they’re only a player and that’s not true. I feel like being vulnerable is a good chance for people to be like, ‘He’s real.’ Right now people want to hear real music and people want to hear what’s real.”
Mann explores another universal desire on “Mars.” This is his escape song, a cut in which he imagines leaving the life his lives now in order to grow into being his own person without outside interference. “Mars” hits particularly close to home for Mann. That’s because he and his mother moved from suburban Norwalk, California to Los Angeles when he was in the fifth grade. It was as if he had arrived on another planet.
Mann was confused and torn. Peers made attempts to lure him to join a neighborhood gang and he dabbled in regrettable activities, but Mann’s path became clear when his mother found out about his less than honorable pastimes. “Seeing her cry made me change everything,” he recalls. “I don’t want to make my mom cry or make her upset. That changed me.”
Making a change, Mann channeled his energy into acting. He had always been a playful child who seemed experienced beyond his years (he earned the nickname Mann because of his tendency to hang out with adults and carry himself well), so acting seemed like a good match. His life changed when he enrolled in the Amazing Grace Conservatory. Now surrounded by other kids who were working toward a positive goal, Mann excelled, landing film (Ghosts Of Mississippi) and television roles (Married With Children) as well as the lead in several plays.
Mann was also able to develop his other skills. He was the member of a dance ensemble; many of the members also rapped. Being the youngest, Mann became known as Boy Wonder. But he was dismissed as a rapper by his friends because of his junior status. The rejection drove Mann to sharpen his skills.
After joining and separating from neighborhood rap groups, Mann was discovered in early 2008 at a Hollywood performance by Jamie Adler. Jamie along with co-manager Joshua Fisher signed Mann to music industry power broker Steve Lobel’s A2Z Entertainment (Bone Thugs-n-Harmony, Iyaz, Nipsey Hussle), and then entered into a partnership with Beluga Heights and Mercury.
Even though most Los Angeles-based rappers are known for their gangster ways, Mann impressed industry vets and fans alike by his status as a complete artist. He’s a sharp lyricist who is able to pen hit records and maintain an edge. “I try to find my way to flip it where it’s still not too pop for anybody urban,” he says, “but it’s not too urban for anybody that’s in the pop world.”
By bridging the gap between the urban and the pop worlds, Mann is indeed set to conquer both realms. In fact, he imagines himself following in the footsteps of another trailblazing artist whose distinctive style led to multi-platinum success. “I look at myself as a modern day Ma$e,” Mann says. “When Ma$e came out in New York, he was different from their sound, but he fit in perfectly. Everybody loved him. He’s was a girl’s guy and he was fly. That is what he represented. I feel like I can do the same thing.”