Mannie Fresh: The Mind of Mannie Fresh

Matt Cibula

Mannie Fresh has a very interesting mind. The word 'interesting' does not always mean something good, but here it does. This shit is bananas.

Mannie Fresh

The Mind of Mannie Fresh

Label: Universal
US Release Date: 2004-12-21
UK Release Date: Available as import
Amazon affiliate

Mannie Fresh has a very interesting mind. The word "interesting" does not always mean something good, but here it does. This shit is bananas.

He is a producer and rapper, but has always been more famous as the former. Cash Money's empire was built, at least partially, on his big old back, with his big glitzy grimy beats on a whole bunch of songs that you already know if you know this stuff. Although his duo, Big Tymers, has not yet broken out on its own, Mannie has been stepping out on his own a lot more these days, his round jovial figure gracing videos even when he doesn't say a word on the track. I guess he figured it was time to do a solo record, and I guess he figured he would just let his freak flag fly.

This album fills me with great joy because it is free. Mannie Fresh is untethered here, free of logic and care, just doing any damn thing that leaps to his mind. Want a cute dance song where he does the wop and the prep with a cute girl? Punch it in. Want a gangsta tune about sleeping with a basketball player's girlfriend? Cue it up. Want a slow jam love song to big cars, all done to an Al B. Sure sample? Yup.

It's a comedy album over all. The skits are funny (Petey Pablo popping up to narrate "Great Moments in Ghetto History"), the songs are funny ("Not Tonight" is a filthy-ass soul song by "Mannie Pendergroff" featuring lines like "I just wanna fuck you baby"), the ambience of the whole thing is funny. There are a couple of running gags here that will make you fall down laughing, because hearing robotic answering-machine voices swear is ALWAYS funny ("Damn Mannie what did you do to this bitch" OMG), and because the idea of Lil Wayne trying to sneak dirty stuff onto Mannie's album is a hoot.

Sure, it also functions as a music album. The tracks are smooth, whether they are shiny and pimped-out like "Real Big" or disco-ey like "Pussy Power", and some of the rapping is improbably solid. There is really no denying the elemental power of a southern bounce groove, so there's no point in doing anything but celebrating a record where that bounce is wed to some weird vocal stuff, or where it veers weirdly into the universe.

In fact, a lot of this stuff would sound a lot weirder that it does, had not many other producers decided to get rich with the Mannie Fresh formula, so it is never truly avant-garde in a showy way; Mannie knows his people, and his people don't want any kind of Rick Wakeman / Merzbow shit. But there are self-deprecating duets with women who are not impressed by the Mannie mystique (just like De La), even though he does the prep and the wop for them; vocal gasps and pings are perfectly logical percussion instruments; gangsta songs are set to dance beats; doo-wop and soul are just as huge in the sound as any other kind of music. It's not radical or anything - but is this album, within the confines of modern hip-hop terminology, a damned sight weirder than it needs to be? UH, YEAH. Is this a good thing? UH, YEAH.

Don't play The Mind of Mannie Fresh around the kids or the grandparents, because it is kinda hardcore with the sex talk in some places. I'm not sure there's anything here that is truly mean-spirited or evil. Mannie is an equal opportunity offender; he says his music is for "dykes, fags, straight motherfuckers", which is almost Rainbow Coalition-type inclusionary these days. And although he portrays women as desperate money-grubbers, Mannie also portrays men as uptight tightwads who care more about themselves than about anyone else. (Hence the skit about the couple at the Alligator-Ass Bar-B-Que, where the man warns his date that she's ordering from "the fuck side of the menu.")The ongoing trope of him wanting to make a romantic "hugging and kissing" album is pretty funny, and the nasty sex talk undercuts it nicely, but your tolerance for stuff like this might be a lot less than mine.

I would compare this, in terms of sheer musical control, to hip-hop albums like De La Soul Is Dead and The College Dropout>, although it is certainly nowhere near as good as the former. But it's a lot more fun than the latter, and probably has a better attitude towards women than any Kanye West song of which I can think. Also, it is less pretentiously unpretentious than Kanye; unlike that guy, Mannie Fresh doesn't feel the need to put himself out there like he's the king of the damned world. I mean, he says he is ("Real Big" features the classic self-deprecatory lines, "I'm rich, bitch / I'm a real Big Tymer"), and he probably means it…but you don't really get the sense that he is all messianic like our guy Kanye. Mannie's okay with just being a producer who can rap, and has some funny things to say and some funked-up crazy tracks to set those raps to.

I love this record more than I love a lot of albums that I've given higher grades. You need sadness and slowness and downerness? Look around you, there are millions of artists out there that can do that. I'm tired of all that stuff, I just want to hear some jokes and be able to sing along with some messed-up songs. For me, Mannie has delivered hugely.


The year in song reflected the state of the world around us. Here are the 70 songs that spoke to us this year.

70. The Horrors - "Machine"

On their fifth album V, the Horrors expand on the bright, psychedelic territory they explored with Luminous, anchoring the ten new tracks with retro synths and guitar fuzz freakouts. "Machine" is the delicious outlier and the most vitriolic cut on the record, with Faris Badwan belting out accusations to the song's subject, who may even be us. The concept of alienation is nothing new, but here the Brits incorporate a beautiful metaphor of an insect trapped in amber as an illustration of the human caught within modernity. Whether our trappings are technological, psychological, or something else entirely makes the statement all the more chilling. - Tristan Kneschke

Keep reading... Show less

This has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it.

It hardly needs to be said that the last 12 months haven't been everyone's favorite, but it does deserve to be noted that 2017 has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it. Other longtime dreamers either reappeared or kept up their recent hot streaks, and a number of relative newcomers established their place in what has become one of the more robust rock subgenre subcultures out there.

Keep reading... Show less

​'The Ferryman': Ephemeral Ideas, Eternal Tragedies

The current cast of The Ferryman in London's West End. Photo by Johan Persson. (Courtesy of The Corner Shop)

Staggeringly multi-layered, dangerously fast-paced and rich in characterizations, dialogue and context, Jez Butterworth's new hit about a family during the time of Ireland's the Troubles leaves the audience breathless, sweaty and tearful, in a nightmarish, dry-heaving haze.

"Vanishing. It's a powerful word, that"

Northern Ireland, Rural Derry, 1981, nighttime. The local ringleader of the Irish Republican Army gun-toting comrades ambushes a priest and tells him that the body of one Seamus Carney has been recovered. It is said that the man had spent a full ten years rotting in a bog. The IRA gunslinger, Muldoon, orders the priest to arrange for the Carney family not to utter a word of what had happened to the wretched man.

Keep reading... Show less

Aaron Sorkin's real-life twister about Molly Bloom, an Olympic skier turned high-stakes poker wrangler, is scorchingly fun but never takes its heroine as seriously as the men.

Chances are, we will never see a heartwarming Aaron Sorkin movie about somebody with a learning disability or severe handicap they had to overcome. This is for the best. The most caffeinated major American screenwriter, Sorkin only seems to find his voice when inhabiting a frantically energetic persona whose thoughts outrun their ability to verbalize and emote them. The start of his latest movie, Molly's Game, is so resolutely Sorkin-esque that it's almost a self-parody. Only this time, like most of his better work, it's based on a true story.

Keep reading... Show less

There's something characteristically English about the Royal Society, whereby strangers gather under the aegis of some shared interest to read, study, and form friendships and in which they are implicitly agreed to exist insulated and apart from political differences.

There is an amusing detail in The Curious World of Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn that is emblematic of the kind of intellectual passions that animated the educated elite of late 17th-century England. We learn that Henry Oldenburg, the first secretary of the Royal Society, had for many years carried on a bitter dispute with Robert Hooke, one of the great polymaths of the era whose name still appears to students of physics and biology. Was the root of their quarrel a personality clash, was it over money or property, over love, ego, values? Something simple and recognizable? The precise source of their conflict was none of the above exactly but is nevertheless revealing of a specific early modern English context: They were in dispute, Margaret Willes writes, "over the development of the balance-spring regulator watch mechanism."

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.