Impassioned and reflective, self-aware and unapologetic, M.anifest’s ambitious fifth album ‘Madina to the Universe’ is an exhilarating deep dive into the Ghanaian artist’s world.
Stream: “Scorpio Flow” – M.anifest
I hope this body of work allows you to see yourself and your universe in ways you haven’t previously, as it has done for me.
Impassioned and reflective, self-aware and unapologetic, M.anifest’s ambitious fifth album is an exhilarating deep dive into the Ghanaian artist’s world: One marked by being true to yourself, owning your roots, overcoming adversity, following your dreams, and never giving up. Radiant and raw, dynamic and dramatic, Madina to the Universe finds M.anifest at his best, embracing his own singular hip-hop style with vulnerable lyrics and an effortless flow that makes every moment feel like magic.
Dreamer from Madina
To be precise new road is the abode now
I’m conquering the globe
I took a lonely stroll and it took a toll on me
I kissed destiny I think she told on me
I was chosen way before my heart was frozen
C-section baby, wasn’t that an omen (no no)
Give me a moment, give them the slogan
Madina to the universe on every verse
On the precipice of something monumental
It appears the Ideas on the beat were instrumental
A long ride to get here and it wasn’t accidental
Sake off internet we’re all inter-continental
Opinions dem plenty empty is the ritual
Mek u go twitter you can rent an intellectual
Released November 18, 2021, Madina To The Universe is an up-close, heart-on-sleeve mission statement from one of Africa’s foremost rappers. The follow-up to 2019’s The Gamble finds M.anifest hitting his stride with an alluring balance of cool confidence, unrelenting drive, humble introspection, and soulful wonderment. Infusing his music with myriad African influences (from more classical sounds, to modern day Afrobeats) that speak to both his upbringing and his present day, the artist gives audiences not just a taste, but a full serving of his home: Madina to the Universe, like its name suggests, blossoms as an intimately expressive and multicultural, globally-minded record.
“I came into my own artistically on my last full length tape,” M.anifest tells Atwood Magazine. “I was genuinely eager to answer the question ‘What next?’ Truthfully, it’s been noisy in my head sometimes, and my creative output has on occasion lacked the coherence and laser-like focus my vision requires. Amidst the uncertainty that was 2020 I went back to my essence. I began daily sessions on my dining table with a basic recording set-up and a consistent clarity enabled by seclusion. My reflections drowned out the noise and sounds of the panic that gripped the world. I fell in love with my process, and the music I wrote during this period became the foundations for Madina to the Universe.”
“I just went into prolific recording mode and churned out song after song,” the rapper recalls. “It was a very back to basics approach. The vision of the album took shape through the process. The title of the album, for instance, came from writing the verse for the intro track. I love it when that sort of thing happens ‘cause it means I’m paying attention to what the universe whispers to me as I create.”
I don’t walk around in the Philippines with the philistines
M dot, in any vicinity I fulfill a dream
No I’m not a rapper, I’m an ideas company
If you come for me ready for the guillotine
I’m making headway, heart race, I’m in a far place
Absolutely switch up like I was barclays
38 special flow no dey talk our age
Godfather ting kiss the ring before we parlay
Of course I’ve been intrigued by the scene
I stitch and seam from the same region as celestine (Donkor)
You see the lean on me bill withers woulda seen
Style of my own I don’t follow fashion I’m supreme
Custom-made studio one eighty nine (yeah yeah)
Art comes first that’s a weighty line (yeah yeah)
Test results telling me the baby mine
I’m referring to the new album u dey barb my mind? (saa saa)
See a new birth on the earth is inevitable
Highly spiritual when I flow in the physical
They say I’m difficult, ok did I mention you?
I protect my peace mek nobody tension you
– “Scorpio Flow,” M.anifest
M.anifest calls this record a reintroduction: “A soulful reminder of the vision I have as an artist. I’ve always had a Hip-Hop and African music hybrid approach. This project furthers that.” The album’s production and artist features – notable guest appearances include Vic Mensa, Adekunle Gold, LADIPOE, Tiggs Da Author, Patoranking, Juls, Ladipoe, and more – further enhance the record’s inherently rich multicolored tapestry. It’s a bold communal effort, all of which centers around M.anifest’s outward-facing heart and soul.
The album’s title, Madina to the Universe, holds special weight and meaning as it speaks to the rapper’s artistry on multiple levels. “The title comes from a lyric on the intro track,” he says. “The context was me making a statement of ambition; “Madina to the universe on every verse.” The album title pays homage to Madina, my childhood neighborhood. It’s always been my “village” within my city: A formative place for me as a child. Beyond memories, it is where my Mom and Grandma still live, alongside colorful people and places that have shaped the window through which I see the world.”
We living la vida loca in an old car
Up and down in gotham streets yeah, i’m a joker
So so many people peeping, wanna hold ya
You giving them silent treatment, no disclosure
I fell in love with a cinderella
Chocolate chic taste like nutella
She no dey hear what can I tell her
Tell her, she thinking Margiela
Detective she on marcella
Checking bottles in wine cellar
Like cabernet sauvignon
Strangers wondering what we on
Back back forth and forth
A bitter taste of when we fought
Back back all retorts
But better days we go dey resort
Sojourn, shoulders you can rest your head on
No curve no bend going head on
Oceans of emotions creeping
onions cutting got me weeping
This album is a reflection of life’s journey as well as a statement of ambition.
From the strong establishing album opener “Mttu” to the smoldering, appreciative closer “Blessings,” each of Madina to the Universe’s fifteen songs feels present and purposeful. Highlights include the feverish, searing “Scorpio Flow,” the bouncing, mindful “Bob and Weave” (ft. M3nsa), the grounded and goal-oriented “Best for You,” the pulsing and passionate “La Vida,” and more.
There are dreams to be chased so of course run ‘em down
See the crease on the face means the past still around
I want cash dollars pounds
I want ass big and round
There’s a dark side of the moon when the sun goes down
– “Bob and Weave,” M.anifest
“‘Weeping Clouds‘ is a favorite,” M.anifest says, citing the groovy, moody claps and horn-filled mid-album singalong, “mainly because I hadn’t created a track like that before. No rapping, just horns as verses.”
The artist extends himself into a sun-soaked breath of instrumental exuberance here; bookended by the strong rap track “No Fear” (ft. Vic Mensa and Moliy) and the simmering confessional “Game Over” (ft. Adekunle Gold), “Weeping Clouds” feels refreshingly buoyant and distinct. Beyond being a wonderful standalone, instrumentally rich introspection, it’s also serves as another way in which M.anifest challenges the status quo for what audiences expect of “rappers.” He’s a multifaceted artist with a dazzling wealth of thought, textures, emotion, and experience to give.
As far as lyrics are concerned, M.anifest cites the minute-long, piano-backed song “Unicorn Flow” as having one of his favorite lines: “Forgotten rotten memories are sonnets // Just to keep it a bean I’m trying to be iconic to be honest.”
Yet wherever you find inspiration – be it in Madina to the Universe‘s big, radiant moments of revelry, or in its smaller, more insulated escapes of reverie – M.anifest’s music promises to leave you better off than when you started. He injects hope and inner strength into the room, shining as a beacon for himself and others.
“I hope it’s a soundtrack to many journeys for many people,” he shares. Experience the full record via our below stream, and peek inside M.anifest’s Madina to the Universe with Atwood Magazine as the artist goes track-by-track through the music and lyrics of his new album!
Stream: ‘Madina to the Universe’ – M.anifest
:: Inside Madina to the Universe ::
The album title was birthed from a lyric on this song; “Madina to the universe on every verse.” It’s about being a dreamer from Madina facing the realization of being on the precipice of something monumental. It’s a statement of ambition that sets the tone for the project.
This one is a portrait of chaos cast over a beautiful and borderline happy highlife-influenced production from my long-time comrade Juls. I love contrast. And this song needed to be just that to hammer home the idea of a dystopian place where the shadows came to dance.
Prod. Drvmroll (Co-Prod Rvdical the Kid)
The energy on this one is the fierce and relentless rapper me. My whole career has been me standing firm and unapologetic about being in the tradition of uncompromising lyricists. This song personifies that. Choose your path and aim for the peak with a scorpio’s zeal.
Bob and Weave ft. M3nsa
Prod. Rvdical the Kid
Aside from that incredible hook from the homie M3nsa, the most compelling lyric on this song for me is “6 year old chaperoning 3 year old sibling.” It’s a constant sight you see in these Ghana streets; to the point it’s not even jarring anymore. Not because parents of these kids taking on adult responsibilities don’t care, but because they’re likely bobbing and weaving thru every day demands of life. It’s the way of the free market; competitive and filled with ducking blows every round.
Best For You ft. LADIPOE
Prod. Rvdical the Kid
This is a letter to my mom. There isn’t a person on earth who has prayed for my well being and success more than she has. Beyond love and appreciation for her, this song is my promise to always do “my best for you.” LADIPOE understood the assignment and penned a moving letter to his mom as well in a complementary vein.
No Fear ft. Vic Mensa & Moliy
Prod. MikeMillzOn’Em & Rvdical the Kid
If you ever go sky diving or you take on a challenge everyone considers you nuts for, play this song. It’s a soundtrack for fearlessness. Vic has been a favorite since I stumbled on innanetape. Our rapport is beyond music since we connected. He blessed this with high level lyricism and Moliy came through with the melodic cherry on top.
Prod. Rvdical the Kid
I wrote this from a sore place in a vulnerable time of my life. It is a reflection on depression and mourning… hence “weeping clouds.” The subject is heavy but I felt a strong urge to make it celebratory. The horns channel the energy of jama music, often used by sports fans in Ghana to project a fighting spirit. I imagined taking to the streets of Accra with a brass band, providing needed release to everyone burdened with life’s traumas.
Game Over ft. Adekunle Gold
Prod. Yung D3mz
This one right here is magical. I sent the beat over to AG as soon as I heard it with one of those I-know-for-sure texts; “I have the perfect record for us bro!” They say “what is understood doesn’t need to be spoken;” he responded in less than half an hour with a sketch of his vocals. Unapologetic love was easy to write about; it’s a life philosophy. I’ll probably be performing this at a couple of weddings in the future.
Prod. MikeMillzOn’Em & Rvdical the Kid
I’m a unicorn in my world. It’s the reason I move the way I do daily. The idea came from a temporary feeling of losing my GPS. Fortunately I often lay low and reflect and get back on my path. You can call this one a note to self. I asked my mother to send me a voice-note about how I was as a kid and she absolutely did the Lord’s work. I hope her soul smiles when she hears this record for the first time.
Top-down in a vintage car running wild with a lover is the vibes on this one. The bounce on this is so smooth and wavey. It came to me on one of those after midnight listening sessions alone on my front porch.
Clean and Pure ft. Patoranking
Prod. Willo Pack
I’ve loved how authentic rastas speak since I was a child. Their philosophies are simple but so fire. Clean and pure is me channeling a down to earth rasta philosophy. Move clean and pure and you will be undisturbed about opinions of road-blockers. Patoranking has been killing it on this type of vibe since time. He owned this so effortlessly. It was a powerful first collaboration between us.
E No Easy ft. Tiggs Da Author
“E No Easy” is a tale of conversations with two hitchhikers I randomly pick up whilst driving around town. I’m a big fan of Tiggs. He’s absolutely one of those gifted versatile artists that will jump on your record and bring a one-of-one feel to it. This song was born from our first studio link up, just chopping it up and playing each other unreleased music. The outcome was “e no easy,” a human story of feeling the world falling on you when you have very little means.
First time I heard Jorja Smith’s blue lights I had it on repeat. There was something visceral about it I connected with . About the fifth listen I found myself murmuring some thoughts. I forgot about it till deep into the lockdown when I was sessioning with MikeMilllzOn’Em (producer) at home. Something provoked my memories of the murmurings, I recorded it to a click and we began building the music around it. There are so many vulnerable memories of love in my soul, and this was one that had to be let out. An ode to an “i got your back love” and a 1000 ways to reciprocate it.
Prod. Yung D3mz
I remember vividly stories of most of my physical scars; from okada exhaust pipe burns to unremarkable marks on my face from being a mischievous adventurous child. All of these physical scars pale in comparison to the ones I got from life experiences. I wanted to write about scars cause they’re not ugly; they’re simply beautiful reminders of lessons learned along the way that make us who we are.
Prod. Rvdical the Kid
The drums on this record were originally Hip-Hop. I had to finesse my very talented and opinionated producer homie, Rvdical the Kid, to switch it up to a more familiar afro riddim after I laid down the hook. I spoke into existence blessings falling down on me. It’s the kind of hopefulness I felt compelled to express to close out this album’s journey, as life’s journey continues.
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📸 © 2021
:: Stream M.anifest ::