It’s been a while we haven’t gathered around a warm evening campfire, staring at the bright yellowness of the sun as it stubbornly deeps down into oblivion, marking a sunset; the end of a day and beginning of a nightfall. Have you taken a minute in the evening to watch the sun set? How it paints the sky with a rosy array of pink, yellow and orange? The lingering magnificence can absolutely change the decision of your crush, that village girl you’ve been sheepishly eyeing her buxom when you meet in the unwinding paths to the river. When you hold her from behind, tilt her chin to a 45 degrees angle and point to the magic that is happening in the far off yet seemingly within reach horizon, slowly whisper in her ears (not biting them Jobe, be gentle); “I don’t have much to offer you Aminata, but I will be sure I’m home everyday so we can watch this miracle together, for the rest of our lives.” No lady can dare refuse such a sweet proposal.
Or how did you think Lamin Sidibeh did it?
Anyhow, back to our story at the campfire… and sunsets. So as the clouds boast in mystical colours, glad that their time to shine is nigh, finally throwing random middle fingers up to the tiny glitter of sun rays left, all the while screaming ‘bitch you can’t kill our vibe’ the story begins. Grandpa is ready, a smoking pot in one hand, walking stick in the other. It’s about to be LIT! All the youngins can be heard chanting ‘Turn Down for what?’
Enter Manding Morry aka Mandinko Gangster!.
A story is told of a young man who had dreams. Big dreams. Dreams bigger than President Mugabe’s ego. Nay, even Nigerian music couldn’t rival the vastness of his dreams. But he was not just a dreamer, the young man knew all so well that unless you wake up and chase them, dreams will always remain just that; dreams. So he woke up, picked a Sarar, Kora and Djembe. Sadly, he couldn’t find a Balafong. But even that couldn’t deter a man whose dreams were ripe. Real man this is. Being a real son Africa, he understood so well the importance of unity. Come on guys, all those cannings, who would dare forget the core pillars of their mothers’ teachings? I laugh when today’s children want to report their parents for abuse whenever they are about to be disciplined. I blame it on the white men. Back in the day, anyone, and I mean ANYONE would whip the hell out of you for misbehaving. Talk about communal parenting. Hehee. God bless our parents and their ancestors. We are great because of you.
So, Mr. Morry figured that it’s lonely at the top and being the wise young man he was, decided to tag a long a number of like-minded acts, forming the thriving Manding Empire. You have to salute a kid with a dream and a vision. Here is where we raise our glasses of Wonjo juice and make a toast. (I am such a horrible host by the way; ladies and gents, if you feel hungry, be free to help yourself in the kitchen. We have boiling pots with Afra, Akara, Benechin, Domada and even Okra Stew! What a delicacy!)
Back to Morry.
When he started making music (great music I must add), Morry figured that being the lion he is, he will conquer all music genres. And all he did annex. In a previous interview, he has been quoted saying that he stands out because of doing afro-manding hip hop. And that is the gospel truth. Not the Afro-Manding hip hop bit. No. The ‘standing out’ part. Manding is evidently on his own lane. Back home, I can only compare him to the likes of Suzanna Owiyo and Makadem. Legends. I was listening to Boy, evidently my favorite single by him(okay, Turn it Up is no doubt my fav of all time) and couldn’t help but marvel at his ability to weave words beautiful with the traditional drummings and craft a masterpiece!.
He has a way with melodies. He has a rasp voice that belts out commanding chunes, dictating each and everyone to not only listen and pay attention, but also stand up and dance! That, to me is the pinnacle of artistry; being able to move people, literally. I was playing Felleh Co Telleh the other night and my woman came out of the kitchen to check what was going on. The other lady who was around suddenly stood up and started gyrating. I was speechless. Like come on, I’be been staying with these two women for a while and they have never been captivated by anything I said or did and here they were, marveling at a total stranger, just by hearing his vocals. I was jealous. But then again, I bet my last penny that they don’t have a freaking idea where Gambia is on the map so yeah, I’m not worried of Morry stealing my girlfriends. On that note, I’ll also ensure that he never comes to Nairobi.
Mr. Morry has been working hard on his AfriKANO movement too. I’m meant to understand that Kano denotes love. And that means it’s all love for Africa from the Manding Empire boss. Through AfriKANO, he has been able to meet and work with some of the most talented artistes around Africa. Take AK Songstress for example. I had never heard about her (or her curvaceous body) before. Thanks to her stellar collaboration with Morry on Turn It Up, now she is a regular on my playlist. That is the power of unity, brothers and sisters. This article can go on and on, as long as Mandings musical catalog but wordpress is reminding me that I’m almost hitting the 1k word mark. So us I wind up, begrudgingly, just like the setting sun, I’d like to leave you with this one song from our dear brother, all the way in Gambia. If someone is making Africa proud, then it’s definitely Manding Morry.