Flavourmag would like to introduce Manchester rapper, MENNIS. Known for his intricate wordplay and shrewd lyricism, MENNIS latest release sees him rhyme over JAY Z’s ‘Somewhereinamerica’. His version, titled ‘Kingdom’ centres on him being a Manchester artist striving to succeed against a backdrop of disparity and division, between regions. The song is also taken off his new four-part project XCIX. We sat down with MENNIS to discuss his new music and more.
Tell us a bit about yourself? Who is MENNIS?
I’m a MCR artist making the soundtrack to my life. I started making music at around 15/16 with the emergence of the grime scene. Also growing up where I did, in an environment where you either let it acquire you or inspire you I chose to write about the lifestyle giving insights to MY journey.
How did you get the name MENNIS?
Well the name MENNIS came from my grandfather who used to refer to me as a menace from a very early age and I guess it just stuck. I chose not to use the conventional spelling and went with MENNIS which is also a acronym for most enigmas now need introducing slowly.
You recently released the track ‘Kingdom’ to the Hit-Boy produced Jay Z’s ‘Somewhereinamerica’. What inspired you to write to that song?
Yeah Kingdom was mainly inspired by a sense of struggle, to be honest whether that is the social divides of class in the first verse or the regional divides of the industry in the second verse. With the two different subjects though I feel like it’s a good example of a struggle that you are born into with no control over and then a struggle which was chosen. This struggle exists in my life because of the field that I’m pursuing and everybody will have their own barrier,s I’m just highlighting mine from somewhere in this kingdom.
Touching on division, at the end of ‘Kingdom’ you say it isn’t about regional divides, is that a struggle you’ve faced as a rapper being from Manchester?
I feel being a musician from out of London is more difficult to get the recognition and to break through. But it is definitely not impossible..maybe it’s the unfamiliar accents. I’m not sure but recently there has been more spotlight on the MCR underground than ever before, hopefully its changing.
Are there any other rappers you admire?
Without even having to state the obvious Biggy and Pac. I’d also say listening to rappers like Kanye and Andre 3000 has helped me in different ways..early Kano and Dizzee and I have to put Wretch in there as well.
Jay Z mentions Miley Cyrus in the original song, what are your thoughts on her twerking?
I think if she wants to twerk then let her twerk it can only be good for the culture right? That someone of her mainstream status is adopting something like that and putting so much light on it.
Is there any other beat you really want to write to next?
Yeah in fact the next beat I’m going to be covering is James Blake’s ‘Retrograde’, I love the vibe of that song and the concept. I wrote to it in a less obvious way but it should be special.
You also have a new project XCIX, tell us a bit about that?
XCIX is 99 which is my brand the music falls under 99. XCIX is also the clothing line which will be launching simultaneously with the EP. It is a cover series which is basically touching upon different aspects of MENNIS..a insight to my personality, who I am and the make up of me. Project XCIX will be a four video collection with a audio release date of December 22nd.
Where do you see your music progressing to, what is your master plan?
The master plan is to keep creating and keep progressing with every project and building the foundations to be a successful independent artist first of all. I believe that when hard work is mixed with determination and passion you can achieve your ambitions. So I think the sky is the limit when it comes to possibilities.
Finally anything you’d like to tell the Flavourmag readers?
I’d like to tell them to watch out for all things MENNIS whether that be the music, the visuals or the fashion..the XCIX project will be dropping on December 22nd, with the line and early next year I will be releasing my original music.
For more, follow MENNIS on twitter @MENNISXCIX