“No Long Talk” by rapper M.anifest unravels as a two-part thesis statement: a) in his fifteenth year in the game, his flow is still god-level b) still, nobody else quite measures up.
“Let’s not prolong, I’ve been a pro for so long/ Legacy a snitch and I feel like I’ve been told on/ Tally up the total, immaculate are these vocals/ I’m accurate when I’m vocal, I turn the local global.”
While it retains added directness, the song’s premise itself is not unfamiliar. Not in hip-hop culture, and certainly not about him. The man is as clinical as he is valiant. It’s how he earned the “god MC” moniker. Inspirited by MikeMillzOn’Em, a go-to producer, as he takes stock of his journey in Ghana’s hip-hop scene, one in which, for his habitual lyrical cleverness, he’s renowned as thought leader, M.anifest also stamps an unequivocal full stop.
“Mama I’m a rap star, I got Allahu akbars”
If you operate in Accra’s pop climate, you must cater to popular themes, partake of dance vocals. His last collection of songs, 2019’s The Gamble saw M.anifest turn over the last instalment of his contribution to poppier matters, albeit with discreet panache.
Still, a fair bit about being the top guy in the cut-throat sport means that he’s a constant target. The game requires, therefore, that even if it is a known fact, the rapper serve periodic reminders in the form that M.anifest has — in the event that someone is entertaining funny ideas.
In 2015, on the controversial “Keep Shining,” moments after ordering detractors to “hop off my genitalia,” and boasting about “being the man for so long, had you questioning your gender,” he declared: “only two rappers in Ghana; M.anifest and the rest.”). Much in a similar spirit, 2020 finds him returning to the vicious, arrogant, pedantic flow archetypal of hip-hop, as demonstrated on the opening bars on “Beat 2,” his first single of the year (also produced by MikeMillzOn’Em): “I’ve been scheming and plotting/ Thought I was at full speed?/ I was only trotting/ A lion wey I chop kyɛr/ Mek u no try, approach me with caution/ Van Gogh with the flow but I never drew/ I’m taking no L’s, All W’s”
If you thought “Beat 2” was it, think again. “No Long Talk” pours entirely as a filthy torrent of acid rain, or, in the man’s own words, “like whore’s clothes.” That he is able to cram the three-minute-long, chorus-less record with such copious amounts of intellectual villainy, each line enunciated with the same, immaculate astuteness admired about Tsatsu Tsikata, his famed lawyer-father who endorses him in the song’s preamble (“Yes that’s my son, and indeed he’s taken to music. And I’m very proud of that because I wish I had those kinds of creative skills. The lyrics are tremendous”) is both miraculous and immensely satisfying.
Because he possesses one of the most unique, most surgical rap cadences in all of Ghanaian hip-hop, one propped up by a sonorous voice and a lexical technique, the M.anifest evisceration is usually a more thoroughly daunting punishment for its recipient(s); a flurry of haymakers impossible to recover from. “No Long Talk” is no different.
And for the avoidance of doubt, he’s “no more Mr Nice Guy, chale the door closed.”
On the joint, there’s something for everyone: material for the Twitter populace ( “I dey fit to shock but trolling is mandatory/ How am I the laughing stock, who’s taking inventory?”) subpar punchline practitioners (“your own be konko car/ you taking shots? Bongo bar”), ill-informed critics/ tastemakers drawing comparisons with the aforementioned rapper class sans due diligence (“Don’t compare me to wave-hoppers and name-droppers”, “They want to undermine me on their talk shows/ A bunch of swines so I guess this is a pork show”)…down to the terrain’s overall regression (“The game is a brothel, everybody want chop/ In other words, there’s always somebody in it that’s getting fucked”).
As you would expect, there’s a point where it just becomes ridiculous. The specific moment: anywhere where between the the 20 second mark an the end of the song.
There are a number of Ghanaian rappers one would consider first-rate, the most notable being Sarkodie, also a decorated flow master and once an archfoe, and perhaps, the only one truly considered an equal. For many years to come, this generation’s “top-five” debate will mostly include these two; occupying number one and number two. The order will rely purely on the debator’s philosophical bend.
Hardly a debate, though, that this new M.anifest record is one of the most conclusive exhibits a rapper has tendered in the last couple of years, about their deservedness for a spot on Ghanaian rap’s Mount Rushmore. Practically, for a majority of other worthy entries, we may have to comb through Kwame Ametepee’s own past classics.
No long talk!