Manga – The Adventures Of Manga Review

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Manga is a bit of a Grime anomaly; a high-pitched, skippy, bespeckled MC whose bars frequently reference style, garms and crepes, yet unlike most rarely stray into badman territory. As a Roll Deep member, his playful persona often seems at odds with the rest of the group – especially when ‘Skeng’ is the main topic topic of conversation (which it often is.) As such, he has faced stick and general ignorance from both MC’s and fans.

Nevertheless, the perpetually adidas-clad MC has persevered, embracing his differences for debut mixtape ‘The Adventures Of Manga’, released earlier this week. Comprised of a curt 10 tracks, the free download features guest spots from Lady Chann and long time sparring partner J2K, and production from Scratchy, Wiley and Bless Beats.

‘The Adventures of…’ starts as any debut Grime mixtape should – with a collection of snippets showing us Manga’s musical journey thus far. If nothing else, in an era of throwaway music, it reminds us why we should pay attention. Verses cut from ‘When I’m ‘Ere’, ‘Fully Involved’ and ‘Do Me Wrong’ set the right tone; a short, stark reminder of this MC’s calibre and his lyrical dexterity.

Indeed, on closing track ‘freestyle’, Manga showcases a colder, ruthless side that has rarely – if ever – been seen before. Addressing his musical demons and stereotypes, he proves that there is substance to back his bubbly delivery. Which begs the question, why include it as the last track? There it is a footnote, whereas if included earlier, it could have been a bold statement of intent.

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The imaginatively titled ‘Style’ featuring Roll deep affiliate J2K is undoubtedly the mixtapes’ highlight. Over a big bastard of a bassline and skittering drums, the pair talk with finesse about their favourite subject. Given their previous form this should sound tired, but they manage to keep it fresh and enjoyable and more importantly – Grimey.

In fact, from the Chemical Brothers-sounding ‘Me Nar Like You’ through to menacing Scratchy-produced ‘Rampage’, this mixtape showcases a rich tapestry of Grime textures within a dancier, more upbeat context. Yet, unlike many ‘GrimewiddabittaFunky’ mixtapes, this isn’t in any way a compromise. ‘Activity’, Danny Weed’s production of the year makes a welcome appearance, although one is left with the impression that the self-named Sir Matchalot could have hit the much-versioned beat a lot harder.

Unfortunately that is one of this mixtapes’ shortcomings. Whilst you can appreciate and enjoy Manga’s stylistic differences, you just wish he’d punch those lines home and add a little dynamism to his delivery. With such skippy, syllable-governed flows, it’s easy to lose track. The radio clips included on the tail-end of ‘Grime Activity’ hit harder than some of the tracks and if Manga is to become top three, he should recognise this and adapt.

This is a solid mixtape, full to the brim with style and should be a welcome addition to any Grime fan’s MP3 library. A great start for Manga, although he will have to shout louder if he is to step out of Roll Deep’s shadow.

Download here.

Kristian

P.S. – Check out Fullygrown’s interview with the man himself here.

P.P.S. Respect to Lady Chann, apologies for the mistake… check her MySpace here.

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