After a surprise deal with Fool's Gold, Atlanta trapper ManMan Savage has his sights set on EDM and beyond.
I've never seen a rapper with as much leftover energy after an all-day press run as ManMan Savage. Considering his high-intensity brand of street music -- the heavy metal aggression of last year's "Takin Shots," quite possibly the heaviest tune ever released on the eclectic Brooklyn label Fool's Gold -- this shouldn't have been surprising. In person, ManMan is all smiles, though the Savage persona he takes on in the studio was brewing below the surface throughout our interview. Afterwards, he moved into the studio and immediately laid down a sadistic trap anthem that he titled "Olay," which you can now listen to below. Production comes from Slade Da Monsta.
Though he's only been rapping for a few years, ManMan Savage has emerged as a particularly loud, and unpredictable, presence in Atlanta trap. Music has become an natural outlet for him, and he's found inspiration in his ability to light up a crowd with his street-bred passion. He's recently made a foray into the world of EDM, and he's excited by the opportunity to reinvent himself as an artist and touch a new mass of partygoers.
His readiness to throw himself into any type of sound has earned ManMan the respect of guys like Big Gipp of the Dungeon Family, Freddie Gibbs, and Fool's Gold boss A-Trak.
During our interview, ManMan explains the influence he's taken from Chicago (his birthplace), passing on the opportunity to guest on OG Maco's "U Guessed It" (apparently Atlanta's gay pride anthem), and hosting Future's "Trap N*ggas" video at his trap house stomping grounds with longtime collaborator FatManKey!.
ManMan Savage, what's good? Now that you're with Fool's Gold, you've probably been up to NYC a few times, yeah?
I got a single deal with them, yeah. For like two songs. I'm not signed as an artist, though.
Oh OK. How'd that come about?
I was talkin' to A-Trak on the Internet. He liked my first tape I dropped, Free ManManSavage. I just reached out to him, he gave me his number, and I hit him up. And then, one day, Fool's Gold hit me up.
Why'd you choose "Takin Shots" as the single?
I ain't choose it, they chose it. I ain't even had no verses on there at first. I just had the hook. I just had to hurry up and make some verses, you feel me.
Who produced that?
Chris Fresh, 808 Mafia.
So you're originally from Chicago?
I was born in Chicago. I moved to Atlanta at like four, five.
When'd you first get into music?
Music's been around me my whole life. Really, my first time making any music, I think I was a little boy, but I didn't really like music. My little brother was into music. I was just a football player. I really started rapping in 2014. That's when I made my first tape. I was workin' in 2012 -- I had a tape that never dropped. That's when I first started hitting the studio a lot. But 2014, that's when I really started rapping.
I didn't know if I really wanted to be a rapper. I didn't know I was a rapper yet, how 'bout that? People started considering me a rapper, like, 'Yeah, when you droppin' that next shit?!' So after that I became a real rapper in 2015.
Was there a moment when you knew you wanted this life?
Well, really "On the Road" did it for me. I was like, 'Damn, bruh, this might be me. Rapping!' After "On the Road" dropped, I wanted to be in the studio all the time.
Are you still independent aside from the single deal with Fool's Gold?
Yeah, 'til a situation comes up where I could just sit down and make music, know what I'm sayin'? But I don't know, man. I don't think no label could sit me down right now. I'm so independent. I'm getting money on my own. I don't need that label money.
I liked Snoop Dogg too, man. When I was young -- Snoop Dogg, Gucci, T.I. I ain't like them lame rappers like Lil Flip and all that. I like Bun B, too. I was influenced by Twista, from Chicago -- Do or Die.
When I go up to Chicago, I got my family on that gangsta shit. I come to Atlanta, you know, they on everything. They just piped up in Atlanta. In Chicago, I wanna hear something I can relate to. Not that Laffy Taffy-ass shit. That's why my music sound the way it sounds, and it don't sound like Young Thug. I could be making songs like Young Thug -- lil' squeaky voice, know what I'm sayin', but nah.
You go for a more hardcore sound.
That real shit! My mind can't even go that level no more. After I was young, I crossed that out.
Where does that energy come from, when you go nuts on a track? Is it always natural?
Natural. It's just built up energy, man, you feel me. I'm ready to rap right now!
Aside from GuWop, you had another Atlanta legend on "Young N Reckless" in Big Gipp. How'd that come about?
Yeah, that's unk! That's my unk, I love Gipp. Like he's not my blood uncle, but that's my uncle. He just took me under his wing, you know what I'm sayin', and gave me that motivation, like, 'I'm rocking with you whatever you need. Whatever you need.' He blessed me, know what I'm sayin'. Gave me that ATL blessing!
Who are some of your favorite producers to work with?
Sonny Digital, Metro Boomin, 808 Mafia. All them like my friends. They showed me the ropes. They like producers I can reach out to every day. C4, too.
Sonny Digital, I've known him since I was in high school. I used to come and record at his studio before he turnt up like he turnt up. It's crazy to see him still reaching out to us, know what I'm sayin'?
Yeah. In Atlanta, even the best producers love working with the young guys.
They love workin' with us, I ain't gon' lie. They love new talent. Especially Sonny Digital. Sonny Digital is like the man in Atlanta when it comes to producing. If I refer you to anybody, I'ma refer you to Sonny Digital, 'cuz he trill, know what I'm sayin'.
Have you got anything coming out with him?
Yeah man, we dropped a song called "Full Clip." I wanna drop a tape, but Sonny be playin' with me man! Sonny wanna see me go in, man. I'ma hit up Sonny when I'm ready. I ain't even ready for Sonny yet! Sonny waitin' on me. I gotta go in there piped up every second, feel me.
You have other projects on the way?
EDM Savage, that's one tape. And I got a tape called Savage Mode. And I got a got a song called "Bout That Time." And the album is Savage Life. That's gon' be my first album. I been talkin' about that a lot on Twitter, but don't nobody know when it's coming. Not even me.
This year maybe?
Maybe, maybe not. See with all three of them comin' out, I might be able to sit down on them. I don't wanna give 'em too much.
You've got a good amount of material that's EDM-inspired. What's gonna be different about "EDM Savage"?
I'm workin' with an EDM producer [Fool's Gold artist Madeaux]. And I'ma just let him take control of my lyrics. It's sounding crazy, like, got damn boy, you got me liking EDM music! I might have to change my name again, just so I can add a different name to this music.
Is EDM poppin' in Atlanta right now?
People sleep on the EDM world. Like, I bullshit you not, hip-hop ain't talkin' bout shit in Atlanta. Hip-hop is great, don't get me wrong, but EDM is gonna sell out every show!
Have you been to the TomorrowWorld festival?
I just found out about that like two years ago, man. When I seen that shit, I swear, that's what made me wanna sign to Fool's Gold. Like, look at at this shit man! Fuckin' 300,000 people.
Did you connect with A-Trak at the festival?
Actually I performed at one of his shows -- the Fool's Gold show in Atlanta. That was my first one -- I wasn't even signed to Fool's Gold yet, and I turned it up like Travi$ Scott. Man, they was tellin' me -- if I didn't perform the same, I performed better than Travi$ Scott. Me, him, OG Maco, and FatManKey! had the best sets.
I had 21 Savage with me too then. It was crazy that night. If I could press rewind, I'd do it all over again.
You and Key! just came out with a joint tape, "Give Em Hell 2." The first one had OG Maco...
--I was supposed to be on that one. I was supposed to be on "Bitch U Guessed It," but I said, 'Nah. It sound a lil' gay to me' [laughs]. I ain't gon' lie, man. I fuck with "Bitch U Guessed It" though.
Well even Maco has since disowned that song.
It was kinda gay, I ain't gon lie man. Walkin' into the house listenin' to a n*gga say, 'Bitch, you guessed it'? It was like, 'Aight bro. I hear where you goin', but nah.'
Man, you would be surprised who liked that damn song. All the gay people was likin' in Atlanta, and they turnt up! That shit was crazy [laughs].
It was everywhere at one point.
It was the gay people, bruh [laughs]. I'm tellin' you what it was, man. I seen the shit with my own eyes. It was funny, too. When you listen to 'em, like, [feminizes voice] "WOO! You was right" [laughs].
Was there an issue with Maco when you replace him on "Give Em Hell 2"?
Naw, that's still my brother, man, know what what I'm sayin'. There was somethin' that was between him and Key! that was goin' on. I don't really know what was goin' on, but it was some bullshit. Maco should've been on there. Just like I should've been on the first one. But that's just the way it goes.
Key! did that to the first one and the second one, you feel me. Shit, maybe me and Maco will make the third one!
A lot of people spotted you and Key! in the Future video.
Yeah, "Trap N*ggas."
How'd that happen?
They asked me where I wanted to shoot the video.
Not Future. The photographers. It was like, 'Yo, we wan't y'all to be in Future's video.'
'Oh that's wassup, that's wassup. Where we gonna be shootin' it at?'
'We wan't y'all to pick the spot.'
Like, 'HUH?! Y'all want us to pick the spot. For Future's video?!'
Did you meet Future?
Future was Hollywood there. I ain't gon' lie. He's workin'. So I ain't trippin'. But Future's a cool dude. I been to his studio sessions and shit, too. I mean, his peoples is my peoples. I hang with his young n*ggas. We all grew up together.'
I wanna ask about your recent feature on "Packages," off Freddie Gibbs' album ["Shadow of a Doubt"]. Hard record. How'd y'all link up?
Gibbs hit me up. We was in L.A. We was at his studio. Gibbs like a big brother, too.
You guys go way back?
Nah, that was my first time really meeting him. I was lookin' at his video like right before that. They had turned his song down and played my shit with the video, and it was just the craziest shit. I was like, 'Bruh, this n*gga Freddie Gibbs fye!'
He want me to do an album with ESGN. What you think about that?
I might make that happen for you man.