Lately, I’ve been really excited to bring you new music from the South African scene as the hip hop community is exploding over there. Today I’ll be reviewing Man Q, and his single “North Connect” off his recent project titled, “Q’s Revenge.” The project was said to be inspired by his experience as an artist living in the prominent Northside of Johannesburg, South Africa. The name Man Q is taken from his given name, Manqoba Shongwe. His music career started off with a love of poetry and then developed into an appreciation for rap. He honed his skills in rap and found success on Sound Cloud. He has been the recipient of many accreditation’s and awards for his music.
In his song “North Connect” Man Q is repping his neighborhood, much like the way many classic hip hop songs used to do at the inception of the art form, repping New York, the West Side, or where ever the artist is from. It is interesting to watch hip hop develop abroad and to note that it takes such similar paths in its growth as did the one in America. Man Q sounds a little like Danny Brown mixed with a touch of Kendrick Lamar. Moreover, as I have said about all the South African artists I have reviewed, it sounds shockingly similar to the ASAP Mob sound. This time, specifically, “North Connect” sounds like ASAP Ferg in his sound “Harlem Anthem.”
This song was produced by LEF and T-Kay. The production is a little on the red side, with all stems firing at full volume for the entire track, which might be its only downfall. Otherwise, it’s a genuinely cool beat. Drum toppers with analog clock sounds fill out the mix, and trilling bells in the background make up the melodic component. The vocal ad-lib at the beginning that says, “We support your movement,” is cool, but could come up in volume some. The main thing adding value to this song is the lyricism, which is entirely on point. This is something I don’t get to say often enough anymore. Some of my favorite lyrics from verse one go,
“I decided that I am the boss. Sleeping on me you taking a loss/ They know that I’m godly with writtens I’m causing/a threat with the/ verses they put on cross.”
The rhyming is excellent and made even more exciting by that hint of an accent the South African voice tends to have. Also, I’m happy to see lines repping “writtens” popping up again. We have gotten away from that lately, flexing about how we don’t write anything, which I think is a mistake. The writing in hip hop is superior to all other forms of musical writing, in my opinion. But, if we get away from celebrating that, it will become as mediocre as it is in every other genre. So, I fully support that line Man Q has where he’s flexing about his writtens. Not to mention how dope it is when he says, “I’ve decided that I am the boss.” There’s something just so chillingly confident about that line.
The only real constructive criticism I have to offer about this song is in reference to the overall mix of the beat. The instrumental is cool, but it gets a little noisy in the verse sections while so much lyricism is going on. Bringing down the clock drums in the mix sound would help that settle better. But this is not really an undoing issue for this song. The whole production feels chaotic and a bit exciting, so, a little noisiness isn’t really the end of the world here. My advice would be to get better professional mastering done before releasing the next track, to ensure all the stems are balanced properly in the overall mix.
When a song like “North Connect” crosses my desk, I am always so excited to write about it. It’s new, it’s both different and familiar, it’s got lyricism for us old heads and that deep trappy sensibility that will bring in all the new hip hop fans. It sounds like it came from the coolest side of American Hip Hop, a duality which all the South African artists I’ve reviewed seem to manage with some ease. Most importantly, it shows that hip hop is alive and well abroad. In South Africa specifically, it’s good to see hip hop is taking on such familiar traits and giving Americans a whole different side of the community to explore, whereas in other countries like the UK, hip hop sort of went it’s own direction (specifically the Grime scene) and thus evolved into music genre Americans can’t immediately relate to or appreciate. But South Africa continues to bring us hip hop we can absolutely relate to and immediately enjoy. Man Q is one of my favorites out of South Africa so far, and whether he stays near Johannesburg for his career, or comes state-side to see what he can make of himself in America, I’m certain that with his talent and enthusiasm he will find a place for his music anywhere. Heard here repping his North Connect, I’m happy to be part of his state-side connect, and look forward to seeing what he does in the future.