After several years of writing and recording, Manasseh released his first album, Monochromatic dream, March 29. How would he describe it? “It’s a hug for your heart; it’s a hug for your soul; it’s a hug for your ears.
Manasseh, originally from Chicago, grew up in Woodlawn before moving to West Englewood in 1994 with his mother and brother. His mother, a “church heavy hitter”, was one of his biggest inspirations. Following in his mother’s footsteps, Manasseh has been singing since the age of two or three.
Several of the songs on Monochromatic dream an allusion to Manasseh’s childhood, his evangelical roots and his personal history. “13” is inspired by Psalm 13, a scripture his aunt recited to him when he was young. “We couldn’t listen to anything but gospel music,” he told me. “We grew up listening to a radio station called 1390, and they played all the latest gospel hits.” The Psalm asks “how long will you forget me, O Lord, it will be forever” – and Manasseh admitted that he had forgotten. But his song was an opportunity to reconnect with the Psalm and his faith.
Later in childhood, Manasseh’s mother bought him Brandy’s self-titled debut album on cassette, which ended up being his very first glimpse into the world of music beyond gospel. After that, there was nothing Manasseh didn’t listen to, and he found himself exploring all types of music whenever he got the chance. This curiosity shaped the sound of Monochromatic dreamwhich covers gospel, disco, R&B, pop, soul and house music on its nine tracks.
But as Manasseh plays with various musical genres, there is intentional repetition in his lyrics. “I know for myself that I wanted it to feel like a mantra. Whatever song you listen to, I wanted you to repeat certain things to yourself, like “don’t be afraid to reach out”. a source of healing for his fans.
If some of the songs of Monochromatic dream discuss Manasseh’s story, then one of his favorite tracks from the LP, “This Groove”, is a piece of history. He wrote the country-pop song fourteen years ago, performed it once, then dropped it for over a decade. “Me and the song knew each other at one point, and we broke up and matured, and then we got back together and had the same conversation,” he said. “We identified with each other on a different level and on a deeper level.”
Manasseh is grateful to the friends and collaborators who have helped to Monochromatic dream, like friend and producer Aidan Eubanks, whom he considers the foundation of the album. The album also features a number of featured artists, including Chicago rappers Boog Liberace and Francois Galaxy and rapper from Saint-Louis J Hopwho each brought their own sounds and expertise to their respective tracks.
But above all, he is grateful for the support of the Chicago music community. “You know, just being in Chicago, we move in a certain way, we love each other. It’s listed as the most segregated city, but at the end of the day, we do things for each other, and that’s it. is what I like.
As for what’s next? Manasseh performs at Cole’s Bar in Logan Square on April 17 and organizes a “mini-tour” around Monochromatic dream. But beyond recording and performing, he would also like to mentor and support new musicians in Chicago. “I want people to discover and refine their own sounds. It’s a learning experience for me too.
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Lauren Johnson is a recent college graduate currently living in Chicago. She recently interviewed Dimitri Moore for the Weekly.