Vanessa Laker Meets Mann: The Interview

His new track, ‘Buzzin’’, is currently setting dancefloors across the globe on fire, and is shaping up to be one of this summer’s big anthems. With 50 Cent tipping him for huge success, Mann is set to be one of hip-hop’s big breakout stars of 2011. The 19-year-old West Coast rapper popped into MTV HQ earlier this week, where he had a chat with The Wrap Up’s Vanessa Laker…

The Wrap Up: Hi, Mann! Your new single, ‘Buzzin’’, has got a lot of buzz surrounding it and is set to be one of this summer’s big anthems. Did you expect it to have such a huge response?

Mann: Actually, no. I expected people to like it, but when I wrote it, I didn’t expect it to be a single. I actually wrote it expecting it to just be something I put out on the internet and then it actually turned out to be a big song. It’s overwhelming right now, I still can’t believe it. 

TWU: And it’s blown up around the world…

Mann: Yeah, that’s exactly what I’m talking about. It’s just very overwhelming. To be over here in the UK off of that song that I made, thinking it was just going to be a leak, is amazing.

TWU: The official remix – which is the main video – features 50 Cent, so how did that collaboration come about?

Mann: 50 heard the record on radio and actually just hopped on it and did it on his own.  He dropped it online, and when he did that, I was surprised. We reached out and he wanted to shoot the video, so we shot the video, and now 50 is a mentor of mine.

TWU: Being a new artist, how does it feel having someone of 50 Cent’s calibre, wanting to jump on your track?

Mann: I feel really blessed. Not a lot of new artists get such a big co-sign. Especially seeing as I’m not even signed under 50 Cent. He didn’t discover me or anything like that, he just really believed in the song and that feels great. We’re not even from the same coast!

TWU: Speaking of coasts, you’re from Los Angeles (West Coast) and a lot of the time, LA hip-hop is associated under the genre of gangsta rap. Was it a conscious decision for you to make an upbeat record for the clubs?

Mann: Very conscious. You know, it’s kinda hard to be a West Coast artist and not be gangsta, because people don’t know what to expect. And for a long time – because I’ve been signed since I was sixteen – I didn’t know the right way to come out as a West Coast artist and represent the West Coast, and not be on that gangsta tip. I think ‘Buzzin’’ was a great mix of keeping it West Coast and also keeping the fresh ideas.

TWU: Back in the day, California was very much so at the forefront of hip-hop, but these days there are noticeably fewer West Coast-based rappers doing hip-hop on an international level, but why do you think that is? 

Mann: Because we had to go back to the drawing board. The gangsta rap and stuff, it played its course. Everything repeats. Like, now in LA, there are a lot of new rappers coming up. There’s a lot of buzz going on in LA with a lot of new artists, and I feel like I’m at the forefront of that. There’s a lot of talent, so the lack of West Coat rappers, that’s probably gonna change soon. 

TWU: Speaking of new artists, there’s a wave of new young rappers, such as Wiz Khalifa and J. Cole, who are coming up and really doing their thing. Which new MCs are you rating and why? 

Mann: I’m a big fan of Odd Future. I’m also a big fan of Kendrick Lamar from LA. I mean, I’m a big fan of Wiz and Currency as well. But for me, as far as new artists go, I think Odd Future are great, just because of their originality and creativity. 

TWU: A few years ago, new hip-hop was bit stale, but right now there are so many new artists and it’s an exciting time for hip-hop music…

Mann: History repeats itself. There was a stage when it had gotten really pop. And when it gets like that, you need something under it. It’s the same thing that happened with disco. You get that other type of music that comes under it, that’s a lot more rough and raw, that people are fiending for, because things have got too pop. It’s just history repeating itself.

TWU: Growing up, which artist inspired you to get into music?

Mann: Mase was a big inspiration to me. He had one of my favourite albums and his videos and his swag was very on point. I was pretty young when he came out, and as a kid, it was okay to like him and my mum wasn’t mad. But he wasn’t corny, he was a cool guy, and that’s a good balance to have.

TWU: Your style of rap is quite unique – it’s rapping meets singing. How would you describe your musical style?

Mann: Really, it’s just music. I like to make music for everyone. I love to rap, but at the same time, I may want to express a melody in a way that rapping can’t do. So I’ll sing it. I think it’s good to have the combination and nowadays, you have to do it all.

TWU: You mentioned that you’ve been signed since you were 16 years old, so how did you get started in the industry? 

Mann: I’ve been performing since I was five years old. I’ve been performing all over LA for years. Then I started dancing, and then I started rapping. I do it all. I just love being in front of people and making people feel good.

TWU: And what’s your association with Sean Kingston?

Mann: We hung out in the studio and he introduced me to (music producer) J. R. Rotem (Britney Spears, Rihanna) and we did records early on in my career. We’re also good friends.

TWU: Before you were discovered on a mainstream level, you made a name for yourself on the underground with mixtapes. How important are mixtapes in the hip-hop world?

Mann: Mixtapes are the most important. Three years ago, when I was 16, they weren’t as important, but then through time, after I got signed, I’ve seen how important they are now. I think after Drake, he kind of set the standard, where every artist – especially in hip-hop – needs to drop something for the fans, to assure them that their album will be worth it. 

TWU: Tell us a bit about your upcoming collaborations mixtape…

Mann: It’s called, ‘Fresh Man On Varsity’. We’ve got a lot of collaborations on there, from Kendrick Lemar to Frank Ocean. I’m trying to get Machine Gun Kelly on it too! I’ve got a lot of great upcoming artists on this mixtape. Everybody’s coming up and this project is about being young and doing things big. That’s what ‘Fresh Man On Varsity’ means. I just wanna reassure my fans and everyone that supports me, that I’m making music, real music.

TWU: And when can we expect to hear your debut album?

Mann: My LP, ‘Mann’s World’, will definitely be dropping this summer. We’re already working on it and it sounds amazing. We’re flipping a lot of records, kinda like what Snoop did with ‘Doggystyle’. We’re just keeping it real old school, but with new ideas and fresh concepts.

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