One listen to Mannywellz’s music reveals a depth of soul, a collision of genres and sounds, and songwriting that touches on loss, love, and identity.
Mannywellz is an incredibly intriguing artist – his recent EP SoulFro has rocketed up R&B charts, gathering up streams and accolades from critics.”
He recently returned from a nationwide tour opening for Jidenna, and plans on taking off abroad with Jidenna on a complete world tour (despite issues with DACA, more on that later).
Now, Mannywellz is dropping the visuals for his single “Watermelon”, a video that holds as much emotional weight as his music does.
I recently chopped it up with Mannywellz to talk about his “Watermelon” visuals, his sound, and having his musical career threatened by Trumpian immigration policies.
Mannywellz described his sound as SoulFro, both by and for the soul, and spoke on his inspirations:
“My music is genre-less. I use the term SoulFro because It’s music from my soul, and for the soul – I incorporate elements of R&B, Hip Hop and Afrobeats into my music, taking influence from artists like Asa, Lauryn Hill, Kendrick Lamar, Bob Marley, Ryan Leslie, Kanye, Sunny Ade, and Fela Kuti. The list goes on, but i draw inspiration things from all of those individuals.”
I asked Mannywellz about the creative process for the “Watermelon” video and that hilarious discussion of “badness” at the Thanksgiving table.
He revealed that it was part of a larger concept:
“We actually created a full, seven-part anthology for SoulFro to really illustrate the themes and emotions of the project in a unique way, and the ‘Watermelon’ video was one of my personal favorites. The ‘badness’ discussion was added to inject some humor into the video and to demonstrate the generational gap and how certain words have different meanings to different people.”
And as for themes of Blackness in Mannywellz’s art, he explained that’s just naturally a part of his identity as a Nigerian immigrant growing up in PG County.
“For me it’s all over my art – its unforced and natural. I’m a young black man, born in Nigeria and raised in PG county Maryland. It influences all of my art.”
He told me about going on tour with Jidenna and the vital experience he received from playing big crowds and learning from his fellow Nigerian artist:
“The tour was amazing! Jidenna and his team were dope – they’re like family now and we’re still in touch. It was amazing being on the the road with a fellow Nigerian – I gained a lot of experience being out there with Jidenna and his team and now I feel like I’m better equipped to go on the road and perform SoulFro.”
But Mannwellz finds himself in a difficult situation with Trump’s recent attempt to end the Dreamers program for young immigrants.
I asked him about this situation, which as it currently stands would bar the artist from going on a world tour:
“It’s not even me being skeptical – I can’t even travel! Advance Parole isn’t available to DACA folks anymore – I wasn’t even able to perform in Canada when we were traveling with Jidenna. The longer this goes on, the harder it’s going to be for all of the other DACA kids dealing with this same uncertainty. I just want to be able to share my music with kids all over the world. But I believe something good is going to happen very soon for individuals all over the country like me, and I just want to continue to inspire all the kids that are facing the same thing that I’m facing.”
It’s a testament to the kind of person Mannywellz is that as he finds his musical career threatened by the horrifying immigration policies of our government, his attitude remains positive.
As for what we can expect for Mannywellz for the rest of 2018, he’s got some big moves in store:
“Going to produce & write for other dope artists that I love and believe in. I’m also going to create more visual installments, telling stories visually inspired by music and my everyday life experiences.”
Peep the “Watermelon” video, listen to SoulFro, and support our Dreamers.