I met this artist after an open mic about two years ago. As he's adjusting the mic stand, he jokes about being African and skinny, with "a big head". I remember the crowd chuckling. I remember getting ready to leave but staying in solidarity with his description.
Now, the moment didn't seem remarkable at the time but, in retrospect, I am appreciative of any artist who challenges standard conventions of "cool". A simple song with a simple hook “I wonder, wonder, wonder, wonderrrrrr”, at the time a bit unpolished, at times a little too loud or soft. But it was dope.
Brevity being the sole of wit (said some dead white man), we dapped, rapped awkwardly for a few minutes, and exchanged numbers.
Mannywellz, like many DMV artists, is no stranger to the proverbial grind. It’s evident in his music; unkempt and belting and honest. What Manny may lack in vocal control, he makes up for in a sort of drum circle-esque stage presence. He once invited me to collaborate with him. You know, off some Jay Ivey/Baba type shit, spit a little poem or two on his track. Freshman me was too busy pretending to be an engineer. Freshman me thought Manny sounded too raw.
Freshman Me is a fuckboy.
Partially because he failed Chemistry but mostly because Manny was/is going places. In roughly 18 months, with some credit to his collaboration with House Studios, and all credit to his work ethic, Wellz has made significant strides in the quality of his vocals and the natural, dare I say, “wonder” of his multicultural aesthetic; firmly rooted everywhere and nowhere, in hip hop, reggae, house, and soul.
First listen, we hear Raury...like, if Raury played Reggae and grew up with Azonto. Second time around, we hear influences from Frank, Fela, and Marley. But the third play-through, I believe, will always teach you about an artist. The third time in, you'll simply hear Mannywellz.
And we should all be looking forward to more of Mannywellz.
Here’s his more recent, polished project titled “WellZ”. Take a listen. Or a couple.