This is an article that was written by Chris Riemenschneider in the StarTribune on September 22, 2011. It has a little information about M.anifest’s past and it tells of the different intercontinental connections he has that influence his music.
It starts off by talking about M.anifest, whose real name is Kwame Amet Tsikata, discovering information about his grandfather that he had not previously known. A few years ago, while reading a book written by Maya Angelou, titled “God’s Children Need Traveling Shoes”, M.anifest found out that his grandfather had employed her when she lived in Ghana in the 1960s. His grandfather was a much respected ethnomusicologist in Africa. After reading about him, M.anifest said that it opened his eyes to the musical connection that he shared with his grandfather and his native country.
Reading about his grandfather also helped to motivate him to reclaim his African roots. This was a big influence to him when he recorded his album “Immigrant Chronicles: Coming to America”. It was also one of his intercontinental connections that have become defining points in his musical career.
In 2001, M.anifest moved to Minnesota to attend Macalester College. When he arrived, he didn’t know anything about Minnesota’s music scene or its African population. He came to learn, though, that there was hip-hop scene, which he stated as being “generous enough to accept an outsider like me.” He is anything but a typical rapper too. He shows his pride for his African heritage openly, by wearing things such as a wooden Africa-shaped necklace, and a colorful batik-style shirt. “He’s not trying to fit into some category of what’s ‘acceptable’ Minnesota hip-hop,” said Toki Wright, a big name in Minnesota’s hip-hop scene.
After graduating college in 2007, he made a big impact with the release of his album, “Manifestations.” The album had reached notoriety both nationally and internationally, with it even being featured in an online Pepsi ad. In Minnesota, it ranked No.5 in their year-end Twin Cities Critics Tally.
In the summer of 2010, M.anifest had been enlisted by Damon Albarn, the singer of both Blur and the Gorillaz, to be part of his music ensemble Africa Express for festivals in both Spain and France. He has also collaborated with Albarn, Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Afrobeat drummer Tony Allen on a record that they had recently been working on.
The popularity that M.anifest gained from his Minnesota-made music made him ‘big’ enough to perform in Ghana with their country’s biggest rapper, Reggie Rockstone. M.anifest was a fan of Reggie and he said that, “This was the guy who showed me I can rap about my life and my surroundings.”
M.anifest grew up in a neighborhood outside of Ghana’s capital city, Accra. His parents, who had never gotten married, were both educated as lawyers. His mother, though, chose to become a Christian minister. Ghana isn’t the best, or the worst, as African nations go. English is one of its many languages, but M.anifest grew up speaking Twi, which is shown on the track “Ghana Must Go”, on his newest album. This album is largely about his life between the two different continents. He has much love for his homeland and has said that his performances back in Ghana feel extra special. Some people believe that he will eventually move back to Ghana, because of the strong influences it has on him and his music. M.anifest disagrees though, because he a one year-old son in Minneapolis, and all of his producers either live here or work here often. The rapper says that in future years he may decide to split his time between the two countries.