Mixtape Review: Manga – 'obzokey Wranglings'
As the perceived underdog of Roll Deep, I’ve always felt that Manga had an originality often overlooked. I wouldn’t go as far as to say that he was ahead of his time, but "that boy from there" was definitely on to something with his skippy flows and refreshing content. Manga’s style has ridden the waves of grime’s commercial reincarnation, and seems to be adapting to a more mainstream market, which is obvious in his new mixtape release, 'Obzokey Wranglings'...
The bizarrely named CD seems to be a reference to Manga’s persistence for doing things his own way, bucking the trend and generally not conforming to grime’s bread and butter content. This he explains in the intro, which I honestly don’t feel does the rest of the CD justice.
Manga uses the overworked technique of sporadically spitting verses, whilst talking to what seems like an imaginary friend in the background every 8 or 16 bars. It feels a bit like a false sense of hype at times, but don’t be put off by the conversation between Manga and Tyler Durden, as the lyrical content between these ramblings proves that the Roll Deep MC is definitely still on top of his game.
Manga’s version of Wiley’s 'Numbers In Action' brings a nostalgic haze of night busses, white label dubplates and the days of Nike 110's, all whilst lacing the beat with a slower flow that he has no problems with. Although I don’t feel 'Obzokey Wranglings' will become a classic, it’s definitely a well nurtured mixtape – you can tell it wasn’t thrown together in two minutes for easy profit.
Tracks like 'I Got Flava' and 'Magical Girl' seem to be a direct indication as to what Manga could do for the charts, if he were to fully break the mainstream. A return to the bouncy high-speed delivery that Manga is so well-known for makes 'Easy' and '48 Hours' stand-out tracks on the CD, as he somehow makes new grime sound like it did in the old days - with the help of Rival, JME, Little Dee and Young Kye. We also get to hear the sensitive side of Manga, as he jumps on half-speed rap beats for the ladies.
Although I do feel that 'Obzokey Wranglings' could have delivered a bit more, Manga has definitely grown as an artist and is obviously not afraid to experiment with different sounds and concepts. After listening to this mix of real grime, club tunes and effective experimental dubs, I genuinely feel that with the right guidance, Manga could successfully crack the mainstream with a sound less watered down than some.
Manga's new mixtape, 'Obzokey Wranglings', is out for free download on October 2.
Stay up to date with Manga on Twitter - www.twitter.com/RollDeepManga
Words: Jake Hanrahan (@OiJake)
Online editing: Joseph 'JP' Patterson (@Jpizzledizzle)