South African-born, Congolese hip-hop artist, Emmanuel ‘Manu Worldstar’ Mutendji, has been on the chase for his big break into the music industry for quite a number of years, entering various competitions in pursuit of achieving his dreams, the singer and rapper now has one of Manzi’s hottest chart-topping singles to date.
We sat down with Manu Worldstar to speak about his journey in finding his place in the entertainment industry and the inspiration behind his popular single ‘Nalingi’.
Growing up in South Africa and being exposed to different cultures, Manu says identifying himself as either Congolese or South African was always a struggle because he was always deemed to not be South African enough nor Congolese enough, leading him to submerge himself within the Hip-hop culture.
“I was pretty much confused in terms of culture, when I’m with the Congolese people, I’m not Congolese enough, when I’m with South Africans, I’m not South African enough, so hip-hop was something like, nobody really cares, as long as you rep’ the culture, so I did that, started rapping for a while, then I got good at it...
Music has always been a part of my life; my whole family besides my father makes music. I got introduced to the hip-hop culture when I was around 14-years-old...I fell in love with that culture, the way we dress, the way we speak, so I kind of adopted that culture”
Being raised by pastoral parents and family members that involved themselves in numerous musical activities led Manu to tirelessly attend choir practice every Thursday with his mother, immersing himself in the musical culture, and later in life leading him to join various popular rapping competitions,
“I’d just sit there because I enjoy listening to music, so I’d sit there, I’d sing but very quietly cause I was a pretty shy kid, I didn’t want anyone to hear my voice, until one day the choir instructor heard me bust a note and he was like: ‘Who was that? Was that you Manu?’ and I went from that Tuesday rehearsal to singing in the choir the following Sunday. So I did that for basically my whole life, I really stopped about two years ago,”
Manu finished second to Gigi Lamayne on Jack Daniels’ Music Scouts in 2014 and 10th on the second season of Vuzu TV’s hip-hop show The Hustle two years later were AKA told him that he had run out of juice.
"..AKA told me that I ran out of juice, that pissed me off because I know I can never run out of juice so that was the only thing that I took to heart. I got out of there I decided that something needed to change, there’s a lot of rappers and a lot of people making dope music and it all sounds the same and it’s hard to filter through, so I was like, I need to change my approach and go back to the drawing broad...”
Fast-forward to 2018, the twenty-three-year-old musician is being given props by AKA and other renowned artists following the release of his latest single, ‘Nalingi’.
“The song is based on the first two weeks of me meeting her [his girlfriend], me having to be patient because she’s super fine and all the guys wanted to do their thing and I’m not the type of guy to compete...so I chilled, observed the situation...if this is meant to be, it will happen, so all the guys flopped and it was my turn, I did my thing and I came out the winner...”
While writing Nalingi in December of 2017, Manu was adamant that he knew it was gonna be a hit when he heard the beat, not only because it was gonna be a great musical tune, but also because it had a special moment embedded in it, as he had penned down lyrics that were set to win the heart of his campus crush.
“I met this girl, people think her name is Nalingi - her name is not Nalingi -I met her on campus the first time. I was there early in the morning, I was on my own, about to go into my classroom and then I saw her walk through the hallway then I just froze for a bit cause she’s so beautiful and pretty and everything, she’s walking, we locked eyes for a bit and then she walked passed me, and then I was like: ‘Ok, I gotta do something smart now...I gotta sing,’ and as she’s walking by, I sing: “Isn’t she lovely...” and I could see her smile and I was like okay, I planted the seed...”
So I had to show and prove to her that: ‘Yo, I’m tryna be with you for real,’ so it took a year and a bit and then when I heard this beat, I was like: ‘This is the one.’ ...she was the first one to hear it, she heard it before my manager. That kinda like broke the barrier and stuff, we’ve been cool, we’ve been together...we only officially started dating two months ago...”
Although this might be a great highlight in Manu's career, he is a strong believer in his ability to not only create stories but also penning down his life story. So as a creative, Manu looks forward to extending his brand as a writer.
“Creating songs is super hard, a song that eighty per cent of your target market would love, it takes a lot of energy, a lot of thinking, we have crazy hours...it’s hard work...every person has their own creative purpose...I usually like to write at home...
I really want to write shows...but I don’t want to focus on it now because I know that it’s gonna take a whole lot of energy, the only thing I can’t do is make beats...that’s a skill that I don’t have...I want to dominate writing, I wanna write my own book one day, I hate reading by the way, I don’t read, but I like writing...I want to stretch my life writing skills, I feel like copywriting showed me untapped potential within myself and I want to reach in there...
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Main image credit: instagram.com/@manu_worldstar