In 2011, M.anifest released his debut album to critical acclaim. ‘Immigrant Chronicles: Coming To America’. As the title suggest, the album was a narrative about his decade long stay in the US and his experiences following his relocation to Ghana. Made up of 16 songs, the album is truly hip hop in tone: sharp lyrics, well crafted beats, genre incorporating sounds. Executive produced by Joshua ‘’Budo’’ Karp and M.anifest, the album saw production from Budo, G Mo, Katrah-Quey and Kweku Ananse.
“Immigrant Chronicles” is hailed as one of the best from the MC whose thought-provoking lyrical deliveries have earned him accolades and fans. His penmanship aside, M.anifest is an observant and thoughtful rapper. Most of his musical contents reflect happenings within our society. He’s like Gil Scott-Heron delivering one of his prized poems about society and people vis-a-vis the political, social and economic happenings.
Pouring with songs like “Ghana Must Go”, “Blue”, “Asa”, “One Night Only”, “Coming To America” and “Sunsum Praye” (my personal favourite from M.anifest), the album is a human centred story.
Pinned at track 4 of “Immigrant Chronicles” is “Suffer”; a song that showcases M.anifest’s knack for socio-political and economic issues. Produced by Budo, the mid-tempo afro hip hop song is an expository essay on the Ghanaian way of life and living.
“Suffer’’ was the debut single released by M.anifest in 2012; a year after the unfortunate terror attack on US- something he addressed in the song. The opening lines of ”Suffer” clearly captures what suffering means, in the Ghanaian context: ‘’Gari Soakings for breakfast, noodles for supper /Gotta eat proper but my pockets ain’t dapper/ Junk food manics economics is a bluffer /Need to go organic or my health might suffer’’, he raps.
The lyrics portray M.anifest as a man caught in a quandary regarding his culinary choices and the effects on his health. He draws the nexus between his economic constraints and his dieting.
The political awareness of M.anifest is apparent in the lines: ‘’If you got a name like Muhammed or Mustafa /Flying might be tougher, my sympathies brother /Cause since towers fell it’s been hell if you other’’.
One of the aftermaths of the September 11 bombing of the “Twin Towers” was the tightening of immigration laws by many Western countries, which many believed discriminated unfairly against Muslims. Bearing a Muslim name is enough justification for airlines to bar you from flying with them, or earn suspicious looks from other passengers, or denied visa to the US and other European nations.
M.anifest remind us of the monstrous, unnavigable traffic situation of the city that often lead to lost man-hours and life-changing opportunities (“Late for this interview, my fear getting louder My chances of getting this job are gonna suffer”), to corruption, to people choosing silence over outspokenness in other not to invite negative repercussions to themselves.
On the third verse, he offers general advice on life, relationships and being ‘’wary of the zombies who smile while they suffer’’. In his epistles about relationships, M.anifest highlights the importance of communication: ‘Miscommunication why relationships, suffer”. He further acknowledges the efforts of parents (“early at scrapping through life in their quest to birds and night owls“) who provide for their wards.
And to illustrate the power dynamics between men and women, M.anifest references Eve Ensler’s “Vagina Monologues’, a play which focuses on the experiences of women: sex (consensual and non-consensual), abuse, love, body image, genital mutilation. (The play has been adopted and staged by Abdul Karim Hakib at the Efua Sutherland Studio, University of Ghana a few times).
The lyrics, “Vagina Monologues, chronicles of the penis”, portrays how men and women perceive and talk about their sexual encounters. This line is preceded by another striking line that places the earlier line in context: ‘I mean this, men are from Mars, women from Venus‘. M.anifest borrows from John Gray’s book of the same title (“Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus”) to affirm the difference between the actions of men and women.
The hook of “Suffer” knots every sentiment expresses by M.anifest across the three versus of the song. It points to how no one is exempt from the afflictions of the world – from forces within or from outside one’s immediate environment.
‘Kayayo dey suffer, Taxi driver dey suffer/Musicians dey suffer, opposition dey suffer/
Villagers dey suffer, broke rappers dey suffer”. “Even Jesus had to suffer”
As the clever rapper he is, M.anifest delivers an interesting line about child abuse within the Catholic Church: “Priests no dey suffer, but small boys dey suffer”. This allusion was made before the revelations about the sex abuse of boys in church assumed global attention.
As one of the standouts off the album, “Suffer” resonates with many people, irrespective of social status. It’s a known fact that decisions and actions of governments or individuals does have far reaching effect on all of us. And most often, it goes to compound our plight negatively. The evocative tone of the song had producer, artist and one-half of the FOKN Bois, M3NSA adding soulful vibes to the song in the remix.