Album of the Week: YungManny – I’m Confused
YungManny sounds like he’s part of a never-ending sugar rush when he raps. The music is vibrant, formless; sometimes cloying. The cover art to his new album I’m Confused tells the story of a 17-year-old DMV native who loves Nickelodeon and Disney just as much as choppers and girls. The music confirms these apposing narratives.
It’s crazy to think this is Manny’s sixth project already. The dynamic rapper first broke through locally with a sinister post-Keef freestyle called “Moana” when he was a 14-year-old 10th Grader. Born as a first-generation Nigerian and the youngest of eight, Manny used to be preoccupied with soccer practice. Now he’s destined to break away from Prince George’s County’s grasp. His borderline love ballad “I’m YungManny” (perfectly titled) encapsulated an eccentric personality who carries one of the best voices in the game without autotune.
On I’m Confused, Manny uses a combination of throbbing 808s, malevolent piano keys, and triumphant synths to showcase the transparent rawness in his preset punchlines (think a less subtle Duwap Kaine) and untouched giggles. He yelps until he’s in the perfect outfit on “Margiela,” sprints as if he’s inside a Mad Max movie on “Hop Out” (him and Xanman continue to be undefeated), and croons until the girl he wants gives him proper attention on “Imani.” Listening to this album is similar to opening up your bag of candy after going trick-or-treating on Halloween. It’s a gold mine of unbridled energy.
Lyrically, YungManny sticks to a simple formula-spit as many one-liners as possible until the runtime ends. Much like overeating on Twix bars, too many of these punchlines can make any listener grow tiresome or sickly (“Jewelry frozen like Elsa, and now I got snow/I’ma kill for your love, baby we Beck and Joe”). Thankfully, Manny has enough vocal tricks to disallow the stomach ache from occurring. ‘The Road” is probably my favorite song to date from him; an immaculate concert-starter that will have DMV residents singing along for years to come. Manny screeches until the beat runs out. It’s unapologetically euphoric, much like a lot of his greatest hits.
Bris (feat. Philthy Rich and Mac J) – “KAMIKAZE”
What a nightmare. Two days after placing this song in my notes for this week’s roundup, Sacramento up-and-comer Bris was found dead from a gunshot wound on Sunday morning in the area of Frankling Boulevard and Fruitridge Road. It’s tragic to see another artist in their early-20s lose out on such an illustrious future. It’s even worse that it was under uncontrollable circumstances.
Bris will always be remembered for his memorable songwriting and straightforward threats that always seemed to be rapped in a haunting whisper. His local classic “Panhandling” notched over a million views on YouTube last year, making him the unofficial torchbearer to Drakeo’s own rubbery quips while he’s stuck in jail for no reason whatsoever. You could even see it in song titles such as “Flu Flam” and “Ling Ling” from his collaborative tape with G-Man, 10:42. This dude was made for Sactown.
There was something wholly flamboyant about the way Bris moved in his videos. He had a certain swagger that extended beyond Drakeo’s monotone rhetoric. He was carving a lane of his own, and it showed once again in this new posse cut “KAMIKAZE.” He speaks in a matter-of-fact tone that sounds more haunting than ever before-“When I pop, I leave you flat like how a tire works/When you hear that pa-pa-pa, it ain’t fireworks.” The oscillating bass is present as are the wintry piano riffs. This was supposed to be an appetizer for his Trickly Dance Moves mixtape (a project that was already delayed due to Covid). It’s frustrating how the world couldn’t witness the swagger of Bris. He had a coolness that was undoubtedly his own. He probably had more street anthems to go along with it. Rest-in-peace to another infectious talent. Please continue to bump “Panhandling.”
Mike – “get rich quick scheme”
Mike’s new album Weight of the World is generally fantastic. The New York underground mainstay reflects on his life since tears of joy, using familial bonds and prior drug use as backbones for reflective songwriting. He has an incessant knack for penning bars that are simultaneously personal to his own image, but universal to those who’ve been through his struggles.
One major thing that stands out aside from these thoughtful meditations is KeiyaA’s off-kiltered production. For the most part, Mike produces the majority of this album under his dj blackpower pseudonym, but it’s the Chicago native’s experimentation that really caught my ear initially. “get rich quick scheme” is the early highlight for me. KeiyaA creates an instrumental reminiscent of a carnival funhouse that’s warped in a distorted bagpipe. Honestly if she through some crazy 808s in there, I wouldn’t be surprised if Lil Uzi decided to take a stab at the instrumental. Her vision works wonders here though, as Mike juxtaposes the chaos with his usual calm inflections.
The New York City nomad somehow crams a boatload of vivid imagery into a little over a minute, sounding more comfortable than ever before within his stream of consciousness-“Time you left for the experience, forgot the wealth/The only thing that I inherited was blockin’ help/It’s part of pops’ concern/Remember cringin’ at the mirror, I was not myself.” These four bars alone represent the majority of Mike’s topical urgency. The idea of bettering himself for the future; remembering what’s truly important; and never forgetting who brought him up in life. Him and KeiyaA continue to hit home runs.
Bfb Da Packman (feat. Sada Baby) – “Free Joe Exotic”
I never laughed so hard listening to a song this year. Bfb da Packman spits happily perverse bars while wearing a “Still HIV positive” sweatshirt. This is exactly what we need in 2020. “My bitch about to leave me cause I’m built like I’m Patrick.” “Rhianna got wards in that case, bitch herpe me.” Like, what the fuck? Sada Baby is usually the draw in every song, but I somehow could care less about his two verses after Packman does what he does. You have to see this to believe this. Long live Detroit’s underground outcasts.
AllStar Jr and Cash Kidd – “Ben Simmons”
This track doesn’t stray far away from Rio da Yung OG’s straight-faced intimidations. AllStar JR and Cash Kidd are as X-rated as ever in their hardcore one-liners. As an avid sports fan though, “these n****s never ever shoot, call them Ben Simmons” takes the cake for me. JR’s new tape Same House As Last Time is currently out on all platforms.
Bonus: Gang Starr – “Robbin Hood Theory”
Yes I know this song came out 22 years ago; around the time I was born to be exact. But I can’t help but put it a spotlight on Guru’s poetic education and timeless bars about greedy political capitalism in the midst of creating social change. The late rapper (rest in peace) was always a subtle activist who exuded radical protest in his calm monotone straightforwardness. “Squeeze the juice out, of all the suckers with power/And pour some back out, so as to water the flowers” will continue to ring through my head until our police force is properly reformed.
Premier’s glistening boom-bap will always bring sunshine to my day, even as the world gets colder and colder. Baldhead Slick will live on as one of rap’s most intelligent leaders. He saw how important the future was before anyone. And still no one listened. Guru saw the power in our youth long before boomers were wagging their fingers at millennials. He carried an unteachable swagger in every verse he wrote. Together, Gang Starr had the power to conquer the world. Their music is more relevant than ever before. Their album Moment of Truth will continue to be one of my all-time favorites.