Indie (July 4, 2012)
Review by Aidan Severs
Surely Manchild needs no introduction. He’s the rapper from Mars ILL. Oh, you don’t know Mars ILL? Go get yourself schooled (start with Raw Material; it’s pretty much a classic). Even if you’ve not heard that, you may have experienced his finely-honed raps on Deepspace5 material, or indeed on many other records in the CHH realm – he’s done more features than you’ve had hot dinners.
I’m pretty sure that intro was unnecessary for most readers, and for a good proportion of those readers, the question is “Is this the new Mars ILL record?” Well, no, it’s not – there’s not a Dust beat in earshot. Second question then; “Will Thunderspeak keep me satisfied until Dust and Manchild combine forces again?” The answer’s yes, probably.
Different listeners will perceive this record differently on first listen. Those who listen primarily to the vocals may end with the impression that this is like a Mars ILL release. Those who listen mainly to the production will realize that this is something unlike Manchild’s group output. The beats are provided by Puerto Rican born, Deutschland-dweller Mista Min and German producer and Scribbling Idiots member Jaq. Germans Dj Jongenz and Fid Rizz also provide a beat each. Between them they supply a variety of sounds which Manchild makes cohesive with his recognizable and consistent rap style.
Manchild defines Thunderspeak as “language steeped in power and authority” and there is certainly that air about this project as Greg Owens addresses some quite specific issues. The rapidly-paced “Don’t Listen” laments ignored relationship advice and “Falling Hearts” poignantly addresses negative female role-models and how they affect our daughters – it’s clear that these are subjects that have really weighed on Manchild’s mind. Over a too-cool organ-led beat “Regular Dude” provides the most fun moment on the album (“See I’m a regular dude, only difference is I can rap better than you”) but even here Manchild concludes seriously “Whether I’m in car pool or severing crews, I still thank God that I’m a regular dude”. Each track has something to say to someone – writing this album must have been cathartic for Manchild and for the listener it gives plenty to get teeth into over repeated listens.
Regardless of anyone’s past experience with Manchild, this is a good album. It’s nothing too fancy, nor does it push boundaries but it’s a fine balance of “underground” lyricism and interesting, engaging beats, original subject matter and entertaining delivery. It is safe ground for the traditional Hip Hop head – music made in an established mold but that is not just a tiresome re-hash of golden day sounds. Old fans and those discovering this artist for the first time should find this a rewarding album which stands up strongly to replays.