Kofi Stacks: The future of UK hip hop?!

It´s a brave thing to do your own version of one of last years greatest and biggest selling female artist and her greatest most well known ballad.

You have to make it work – and give it your own special touch – and still keeping it close to the original.

Kofi Stacks featuring Adele “Someone Like You”

A remake or a remix of the song has to be done with respect. And respect is what Kofi Stacks shows when they do their remix of the Adele classic “Someone Like You” from her already legendary bestseller album “21”. The song was also my first meeting with english rapper Kofi Stacks and his band The Mandem.

Kofi Stacks & the Mandem is an unsigned hip hop group – and using Adeles smash as a kickstart for their career is a great and smart career move – give people something they recognize. They use what sounds like a sample from the original song and speed it up slightly. Slow naked piano intro and Adeles vocals, hip hop beats, and then add Mr Kofi Stacks great vocals. He raps in UK-english, he has a strong, raw rap-flow, he is almost spitting out the lyrics. The lyrics of the song are now seen from the mans perspective.

Kofi Stacks has a cool look – the bearded hippy look and Bill Cosby´ish clothes – the rest of his band looks like a gang of mods or a brit-pop group. A fresh and unusual look for a rap group. Without doubt very English.
If you noticed the video. Was she, Adele, the worlds biggest female star – really working with them, a unsigned band? I had to find out about this…
When Kofi Stacks sent me his answers on the Q&A and started his answers like this; “Here are your answers bro”, I knew this was gonna be good!
Q: One of your best songs – and my absolute favorite of yours – is your Adele cover. I´ve seen the video to this! Did you remake the song with Adele – or are you just mixing clips of her video with your video? If first alternative; How was it to work with Adele?
A: Yeah it was crazy that song. It was one of my favourite of her album and I couldn’t stop singing along with it as its so relatable, then it hit me. I need to spin this. I need to deliver this from a males perspective. Within 30 minutes I had the track laid down. Her people heard what we did and liked it but at that stage her schedule was ridiculous with promotion as you can imagine and there was no way of connecting with her so we went ahead and shot a video around her. I work with a talented video production team who do all my stuff, www.futureproduction.co.uk check ’em out.
Q: I think you are one of the most exiting english rappers right now, is there any plans of a full album soon?
A: Thank you firstly for the compliment, it’s appreciated. Yeah I’m currently working on my EP, still untitled, but really sounding good, I think the fans and critics will enjoy something refreshingly different from what’s out there.
Q: Another one; the club-remix of “Hot Chic” is fantastic and made me think of the Basement Jaxx remix of Missy Elliots “4 My People” – were your inspired by this when you remixed your track?
A: Umm, not really no. That was done so long ago, wow. To be honest that was more of an experimental track, not at all the direction I wanted to go in back then, or even now. It was just about having some fun creatively in the studio, but if people like it then that can’t be too bad I guess.
Q: I think I see a lot of similarities with your sound and way of rapping with early Public Enemy and the harder side of 2Pac – almost militant. Who are you most influenced by?
A: Thanks. I mean those are some legendary names you’ve mentioned there. I grew up listening to them and a bunch of other great lyricist like Big Daddy Kane, Jay-Z, Nas, Dre, you name them I probably was in to them in some way. But my sound has changed so much from my earlier career, and is more steeped with reggae and ska influences, especially sonically. Lyrically and flow wise I’m still near enough the same just more mature and putting songs together instead of just freestyles. I feel that with the reggae/ ska movement, those artists had something to say, something relevant and tangible to the public. You look at Bob Marley, Jimmy Cliff, Desmond Decker, Madness, The Specials. I mean I could go on but hopefully you understand what I mean. So as you mention Tupac, I’m glad as he had a message also in his music that he was trying to convey which made him one of the best rappers.
Q: If you should describe your way of rapping to new listeners – how would you describe yourselves?
A: Ummm, journey. I think my style takes you on a cool journey of who I am. My stories, my trial and tribulations, what makes me, me. I mean the flow itself is not convoluted, just right so lyrically you hear what i have to say and can really connect with it. You can kick back at home and listen to my music, be pumping it in your car or whatever. Ive got my band now, The Mandem, so I’m not just a solo act anymore. My live shows seem to go down well as the audience really do vibe with me. I mean it’s not a doom and gloom sound, there are some real catchy uptempo tracks on my upcoming EP, but the message I’m portraying still gets heard while you’re able to jam to it and shake a leg, LOL. I’m trying to reintroduce that live sound of old in to modern day hip hop but with my own twist.
**Bonus question**
Q: You sample and remake soft-rock songs and artist like Billy Joel “Uptown Girl” and “Work Hard For The Money” could you name your guilty pleasure if you have any!
A:
Again, those tracks were experimental and fun to jump on. My guilty pleasure.. Probably listening to Magic FM late night, LOL, the songs they play are the classics and so timeless, and it’s not the sort of radio station you’d expect me to really be listening to on a daily. Adele’s made it on there with three songs I think. I’ve always said if I get to hear myself on magic, I know I’ve won.
Lovely to have this chat with you Koffi! Thank you for your answers bro´!

It´s amazing to think about that Kofi Stacks & The Mandem still hasn´t released a official album, but they are these days working on their first EP. But did you know they has released over 22 different songs through services like webservices Soundcloud and Reverbnation to download for free?
Hey! Heres an idea! Compile your own unique Kofi Stacks & The Mandem album / or playlist, by downloading your favourite songs from their Soundcloud and Reverbnation page!
One last thing; Did you know Kofi Stacks & The Mandem is one of the bands in this years MTV Brand New Unsigned 2012 competition?
If you like what you hear; you know who to vote for!
You can follow and read and hear more about Kofi Stack & The Mandem on the following social media services:
Homepage KofisKonondrum on tumblr
Facebook Kofi Stacks
Twitter @KofiStacks
Soundcloud KofiStacks
Reverbnation KofiStacks
YouTube Kofi Stacks TV
Record Company 89 Arrogance Recordings
Now it´s up to you, listen to the bands music, and if you like – send me some words about your favourite tracks from Kofi Stacks & The Mandem! 

There´s something about Franky!

There really is something about Franky Manzos debut single “MJs Coursing”

Is it the intro to her single – a little AOR inspired – until her voice and the beats kick in?
Is it the dry simple piano line? The slightly auto-tuned vocals?
The cool 70s inspired “Oh, beep-beep, Oh beep-beep” bridge in the middle of the song?
The percussion, and the hand claps, and the dry synthetic sax stabs?
The mix of 70s-80s and 90s disco-club squeezed into 3 minutes?

Is it the story of her past as a dancer behind the likes of Destiny’s Child, Britney Spears, Miley Cyrus and more. Or maybe her career with former Guns´n´Roses drummer Matt Sorum in Darling Stilettos, a band that looked and sounded like a cross between Pussycat Dolls, The Runaways and 80s Prince protoges Vanity 6 and Appolonia 6 with the motto of Spice Girls; GIRL POWER!

Even if Frances Manzo (her real name) is still young she has had a long career. She has not only been a dancer behind some of the worlds biggest stars, but she has also been doing choreography, commercials, movies, music videos – the most famous being a dancer in Britney Spears “Womanizer” video, been an on stage performer, dance teacher, and being in television productions. Franky is also a music co-writer- and co-producer of Maudlyn Strangers self titled upcoming debut album!

She looks like a rock chick, but also has this late 80s-90s style. And since she is a fan of – and has worked with great rock musicians – there’s no doubt she has her own style!

The MJ in the song “MJs Coursing” is, as you have probably guessed already, the late great Michael Jackson.
Franky Manzo, or if you prefer her real name Frances Manzo, said on her Reverbnation page “This song encompasses everything I wanted in my first song because of my love for Michael Jackson and the era of disco I heard as a child from my mom.”

After reading this quote I had to hear more about the story behind “MJ´s Coursing” and sent Frances Manzo a few questions to her Facebook profile – and she shortly after, she sent me her answers! – here it goes;

5 QUESTIONS: a Q&A with Franky Manzo

You say on your reverbnation profile that “This song encompasses everything I wanted in my first song because of my love for Michael Jackson and the era of disco I heard as a child from my mom.”

Q: Are you inspired by any special MJ songs on the song? Or any special discotunes your mothers liked?
A: Difficult question! It’s hard to choose which MJ songs inspired me, but I can try narrow it down to “They Don’t Care About Us”, “Rock With You”, “Billie Jean”, and “Remember the Time”. As far as disco songs, my mom definitely had “Heart of Glass”, “Harlem Shuffle”, and “Bad Girls” on her favorite cassette tape…which she played all the time! I credit my mom with my rhythmic ability because when I was about 2, she and I used to dance to those songs every morning. So I think those songs will always stick with me, and you can hear their influence in my single.

Q: Is there any plans for a full album – how do think it will sound?
A: Absolutely! I think much of the album will be disco inspired, but I don’t necessarily want to limit myself to just one genre. I am truly inspired by what Blondie did…she was a total punk rocker turned disco diva, and back again! I expect that the album will throw a curveball in there somewhere!

Q: I feel the video to “MJs Coursing” is a bit inspired by Kylie Minogue and especially her “Confide In Me” vid? Am I right?
A: Yes, I love Kylie! I got to meet her about 10 years ago at a show, and she’s an absolute delight! I actually hadn’t seen the “Confide in Me”* video, but I can see the similarity!! The original concept that I had for my video was quite grandiose, but alas, being on an indie artist budget isn’t exactly conducive to being grandiose. So, we came up with an alternative, the video that’s out now, and it came out great!!! I’m so happy with it.
(*Note: I see i refered to the wrong Kylie song and video here – my fault…but it seems like Franky Manzo understood what I meant)

Q: I see you have been dancing onstage behind several big names, like Britney Spears, Destiny’s Child and Miley Cyrus to mention a few. Are you supposed to be working with any big named and well-known producers or writers on your album?
A: I had the opportunity to work with big name producers when I was in Darling Stilettos, and I’ve found that the most important thing is that I trust who I’m working with, especially because I’m barely getting my feet wet as a solo artist. My producer, Michael Binikos, is someone that I trust. He’s worked with Leann Rimes, Brie Larson, and the like. I’m very lucky to have him working on my album.
As far as writers go, I’m not opposed to letting someone write for me in the future, but right now, I have so much I want to convey as an artist. I think that it’s important for me to write my own material. I really want to show the world what I’m capable of…and it’s only the beginning for me.

Q: What other artist are you inspired by?
A: Blondie, Kylie Minogue, and Michael Jackson are some of my favorites. Aside from those artists, I’m totally inspired by Robert Plant! I LOVE Led Zeppelin. I really appreciate his lyrics. Sophie Ellis-Bextor is another artist I love. Her songs are so catchy and they just make you feel good. Gwen Stefani is one of my absolute favorites. I used to wear dickies and cropped wife beaters just like her…still do! Scott Weiland…I know it’s a bit of a stray, but I can’t help but love the grunge era. He’s a dynamic performer with amazing songwriting skills.
It may be hard to tell that I’m inspired by these artists based on my single, but I love writing for other bands…and that’s where you can see a lot of these influences. I co-wrote and co-produced many of the songs on Maudlin Strangers’ upcoming debut album. “Suffer, Kate” and “Long Way Down” were definitely Zeppelin and Stone Temple Pilots inspired!

Franky Manzo ends my Q&A like this Haha, I tend to be wordy sometimes. I really appreciate this!!! Thank you so much!!!”

If someone is going be thankful here it´s gotta be me – for giving me so good answers on my questions. Wordy is no problem as long as the answers good or what?

I must say I love to see her cool genre mix. With Michael Jackson and Kylie Minogue on one side, and her love for Robert Plant and Led Zeppelin and Stone Temple Pilots Scott Weiland on the other. A good lover of music – sees no bonderies and limits, only opportunities! Thank you again Franky Manzo for your great answers!

The single “MJs Coursing” is one piece of perfect radio friendly pop!
I would love to see some great remixes of the track; How about a great classic Masters At Work remix, like they did in the last part of the 90s with loads of live-instruments, like a fat bass line – some guitar and lots of great percussion? Kenny Dope and Little Louie Vega – open your ears!

But as the song “MJs Coursing” is now – it´s a nice piece of great radio disco-pop –  And it gets better and better with each listening!

Look forward to follow the adventurous future of Franky Manzo!