Wednesday, March 1, 2017

This Week in Manifesters History

February 27 – March 5, 2017

Manifesters 18th Anniversary
March 1st, 1999. Eighteen years. Today, my baby becomes an adult…haha!
I often marvel at all that has transpired with Manifesters over the years. That little crew an insanely headstrong nineteen year old me started, smack dab in the middle of the most exciting two years of my life, with nothing more than a drive to be a part of Hip Hop music. And the ride has been a crazy one; full of successes and failures, highs and lows, and a plethora of things in between. Above all though, it’s been a defining factor of who, and what, I am for eighteen years now.

I’ve written numerous, short “History of Manifesters” pieces in the past, and I will have an extremely comprehensive one ready for the 20th anniversary in 2019. But for anyone reading this that is not familiar with our story, please visit and click on bio for a brief rundown.

Manifesters has been many things throughout the years; from our humble beginning as two emcees and a DJ, to four members with a live band, to the wildly diverse trio of NiiBox, Online and I, and more. Essentially, we’ve had ten different rosters throughout the years, with myself as the only constant. However, all of the roster changes occurred from 2000 to the end of 2003. From the start of 2004 to now, it has remained NiiBox, Online and I. March of 1999 to September of 2006 was an absolute, non-stop whirlwind. And it was a blast! I will be eternally thankful for the opportunities we had, the things we did, the people we met and worked with, the places we went, and everything we were able to experience during that time period. We worked incredibly hard and pushed the envelope as artists and performers. We never made a career out it, but then again, we never really set out to do so. We worked full time and were full time college students in addition to being full time musicians. In hind sight, there are definitely things we could have done more strategically. And our formula in certain areas could have been shifted to better align with a different set of goals. But by the same token, the overall experience we did have will always be categorized as a positive and successful one. I know it sounds cliché, but I wouldn’t change it.

Of course, I still do what many emcees do though; look at famous cats and think, “man, I’m so much doper than that dude”. The difference is that I no longer have a longing to be a famous rapper. I’m thirty seven years old, married and have a great career. By 10:00pm on a work night, I want to be on the couch with my wife and dog, not just leaving the house to go perform. I still have a passion for writing and recording music, and thanks to some great producers who continue to supply me with beats and access to the studio (and my home studio for pre-production work), I can continue to explore that passion. Sure, without performing and touring, the Versifier/Manifesters fan base is non-existent and releasing music which no one is checking for yields extremely little in terms of streams and downloads, but who cares? I’m completely comfortable being a “hobby emcee”, in that while I’ll be Hip Hop and an emcee for life, the music aspect is not that of a career or a job, but simply a hobby. While Online will always be listed as the third current member of Manifesters, his only role (by choice), since 2009 has been webmaster for the Manifesters’ and Versifier websites. NiiBox on the other hand is, has been, and always will be, a career musician, regardless of Manifesters and/or anything Hip Hop related. NiiBox currently gigs 3-7 times a week with a collection of groups/bands in a wide spectrum of styles; ranging from rock, to funk, to R&B and soul, to traditional African ensembles, to jazz, to spoken word. He plays a plethora of different instruments, sings, dances, writes, produces, composes and arranges, conducts, choreographs, beatboxes, hots, etc., etc., etc. Oh, and he still spits some verses on songs with me.

With all that being said, Manifesters is, and will always be, a living entity of our creativity and personality, with a rich history that grows with each passing year. Just because we aren’t performing now doesn’t mean you won’t ever see Manifesters rock a stage again. And in terms of new music, let’s just say there is plenty of that left to come…! And two years from today, on our 20th Anniversary, we’ll really celebrate!

So here’s to eighteen years of Manifest Life!

Shout and thanks to my Manifesters Family:
DJ Slow Motion
Don’t Sleep
The Manifest Band (Garrett “Entity” Neal, Todd Brown and Jake Price)

Big Jess
Master Wong
Cypha Squad
Prolific Concepts

16th Anniversary of Beneath The Cover
My Beneath The Cover EP, released March 1, 2001, was the first of many things; my first solo album, the first Manifesters release, the first CD of mine sold at shows and in stores, and the first installment of a music catalogue now over forty five projects strong. Back then, one could easily list off the cluster of Hip Hop artists doing things on the scene in the Twin Cities (unlike today were there appears to be hundreds).  There was essentially; open mics, cyphers, small shows, big shows and opening up for national artists. And for some reason, even to this day I’m not sure why, having an album was the unwritten criteria to move an artist from the open mics, cyphers and small shows to the bigger shows and opening slots for national acts. Whatever the reason, that was just the “rule” at the time and thus, it was a driving force for this record. In mid-2000, Manifesters was undergoing some roster changes and so the prospect of a Manifesters album was a ways out. I had become a staple at Minneapolis open mics and a regular in cyphers all around the Twin Cities. I was performing sets with C.L. and the Low Down during slots C.L. was booked for, and Manifesters (as Mesia and I, or Mesia, NiiBox and I) were rocking smaller shows, usually as the opening act. So not only did I want an album, but we kind of needed one to propel us to the next level.

I had worked and collaborated with Big Jess on two guest features I had on Gamble’s Realities of Life album that year, and had performed at shows at which the Unknown Prophets were also playing, or headlining. And so Big Jess, being the utterly awesome guy that he is, took me under his wing and produced Beneath The Cover for me. Not only did he supply some incredible beats, but because this was my very first project in the studio, he also played the role of in-studio producer. While it was evident I still needed some work developing my voice and presence in the booth, the beats were astounding, my rhymes and topics were on point, and the little extra added flavors and guest appearances rounded out what became a very solid debut album. The peer, fan, and media reviews were good. It was a project I was extremely proud of. The album served its intended purpose of providing Manifesters with new, all-original material with which we could get bigger and better gigs off of. And that we did! In fact, less than two months after the release, Manifesters opened up for Mos Def and Mystic (with Digital Underground) for a sold-out crowd at The Quest. Additionally, the project sparked a fantastic working relationship between myself and Big Jess. Its sixteen years later and Jess is still producing unbelievably dope beats for me as well as engineering, mixing and mastering all of my recordings. All in all, it was the perfect way to introduce my music to the world.

We did one pressing of Beneath The Cover (around 1,200 CDs), which have long since sold out. In November of 2010, it was re-released, digitally, for a limited time on Manifesters’ BandCamp site. Since I didn’t do anything big for the 15th anniversary last year, I’ve decided to do another digital release of the EP. So, from today, March 1st, through this coming Sunday, March 5th, Beneath The Cover will be available for download at

No comments:

Post a Comment