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Sydney rapper Manu Crooks is always one step ahead

PHOTOGRAPHY AND WORDS BY ZARA MUTTI

STYLING BY HUNTER BLUE

MANU CROOKS WEARING MONCLER

“For me, I never try to do what’s hot right now. I just got to be me.”

Manu Crooks is Australia’s most forward-thinking rapper. After the release of his debut body of work Mood Forever in 2017 – which saw him garner a cult following, with fans including Zane Lowe and A$AP Ferg – Manu’s been working on a new body of work, MFII, due to be released later this year.

He’s already released two tracks in recent months, the equally addictive ‘Bastards’ and ‘Killing Me Softly’, with more on the way. We caught up with the Sydney-based rapper to find out what drives him.

What has changed since the last time you released music?

With the newer stuff coming out, for me personally, there has been a lot of growth. As a person and as an artist, I understand myself more.

How would you describe your upcoming album?

It’s more in-depth because I’ve grown as a person and an artist, so what I’m talking about is not the same as what I was talking about last time I released a project. I’ve travelled heaps more. I know myself. I know what kind of message I want to get out there. Definitely a lot of growth. This release isn’t as filtered as the last, it’s more me.

Do you often think about how your music will be received by others?

When I make a song, obviously it’s personal to me. Then once I put the song out, I’m like, okay, I have no attachment to it because it’s not for me anymore. It’s for everyone else. That’s how I see it. That really helps me not to think about what people think about certain songs.

What inspires you to keep making and releasing music?

My biggest inspiration is life and just trying to be great. Doing a lot of dope stuff and being as innovative as possible through my music.

What do you think sets you apart from other artists?

Being myself. Everyone has a different story so I’m telling my story. My voice is different, the way I talk and look is different.

How do you stay relevant, while staying true to who you are?

For me, I never try to do what’s hot right now. I just got to be me. It would be ignorant of me to say, “Who cares about what’s going on now?” because in terms of sound you have got to be on top of it. So, I implement that through the message and through the sounds. I like to be innovative and stay a step ahead. It’s about what I think is going to be hot a couple of years ahead instead of right now. I have got to be the trendsetter.

How did ‘Killing Me Softly’ come about?

I already had the project 90 per cent complete when Ziggy, my manager and DJ, sent me this beat and told me to do something on it. So, I laid some stuff down, basically just talked about my life and it was just so fitting.

Follow Manu here.

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