Emmanuel Ochieng, known professionally as ManuhIsMe (pronounced as “Manu Is Me”) is an independent Kenyan singer, rapper, songwriter, and record producer. His music is often comprised of “emo” and “rock” leaning, “genre-bending”, with music focusing on “every broken heart, every wounded feeling”. More specifically, he has been labeled as a hip hop, r&b/soul, trap, emo rap, and pop-punk artist, with a penchant for short, hook-heavy songs. He seems a leading figure in the current era of Emo-rap in Kenya. He continues to gain recognition in the sub-genre. His most successful singles express melodic, emo-inspired compositions that exhibit his songwriting skill. His songs harbor melodic flows to complement their melancholic subjects. ManuhIsMe says he talks about things others are thinking but are afraid to speak about, such as being so in love, vulnerable, hurt, and depressed. Currently building a following through emo rap, he offers lyrics that touch on heartbreak, mental health issues, and fragmented feelings. Though not entirely groundbreaking, his musical approach provides a sense of familiarity that heartbroken adolescents of the current generation could gravitate towards.
Kindly share the part of your story that you feel the public should know about Manu?
ManuhIsMe [pronounced as Manu Is Me] is an independent Kenyan singer, rapper, songwriter, and record producer. ManuhIsMe is an approachable person, loving, and will definitely not mind sitting down and having a good time with different people. I’m just a normal guy who loves staying indoors and listening to music, working, playing games, and once in a while having fun with friends and family. I wouldn’t mind being out once in a while. I enjoy being around diverse crowds. A stranger can literally come to have a banter with me out of nowhere and I’d be okay. That’s how chill I am.
How and when did you make your debut in the music industry?
I recorded my first track-back in 2017 at a friend’s studio for my personal listening and he ended up playing it to his circle and they all loved it. After a long sit down and persuasion, I released my first track in 2018, and ever since then it’s just been all about bettering the previous tracks.
Is music what you always wanted to do while growing up?
Not really. I had always wanted to be a lawyer but then again ever since I was a young boy I have had times when my dad would confiscate my iPod, mp3 players, and pocket radios cause I would be memorizing music lyrics more than my books. I discovered I wanted to pursue music later when I joined University.
How would you describe your style of music?
I think I might be the only Emo-rap/ Melodic rap artist in Kenya whose music is mostly emotional. My music often consists of “emo” and “rock” leaning, “genre-bending”, with music focusing on “every broken heart, every wounded feeling”. More specifically, I have been labeled as a hip hop, R&B/soul, trap, emo rap, and pop-punk artist, with a penchant for short, hook-heavy songs. My songs harbor melodic flows to complement their melancholic subjects. I talk about things others are thinking but are afraid to speak about, such as being so in love, vulnerable, hurt, and depressed. Currently building a following through emo rap, my music touches on heartbreak, mental health issues, and fragmented feelings.
What inspired you to be a singer-songwriter?
This is a tough question for me. I would probably say I write a lot when I’m stressed or angered. It’s easier to let my pain or disappointment through paper than talking about it. I have never been the kind of person who writes about fantasies but factual things happening at the time or happened. I enjoy telling stories and it took me time to be better. That all can be alluded to by my friends actually being hard on me and the music I’m putting out. They demanded it should be all me and that was my drive. Me but thanks to my friends.
What is your creative process like?
It depends on the day or night for me. I could just wake up and open my computer and start creating a beat while writing. At times I may be feeling sad or happy and happen to play a melody and end up writing and recording at the same time. It’s all about vibes most of the time and how mentally or emotionally I may be. Sometimes I take down a voice memo if it’s something I want to dive deeper into and end up just finishing the whole song.
How do you feel the internet has impacted the music business?
There is no better time to be an artist than at this age. The fact that I could just make music today and have it up on the internet in a day or two without a label approval means much to me. The independence to do music without a guideline from a label on sales or promotion is big. All responsibilities lie with the artist. We do know the value of the music we put out and the internet has given us much control over distribution, promotions, and release. To me, it’s the most beautiful thing to happen to musicians and other creatives.
Which famous musician do you admire?
I really admired the late XXXtentacion and Juice Wrld very much. Through them, I realized it is okay to be vulnerable, and sharing your music might mean the world to other people than it is to you. I am constantly reminded these days that my music is not mine. It is for people who seek comfort, closure, and the assurance the world is not a dark place. XXXtentacion and Juice Wrld really had a big impact on me before they passed away.
If you could go open a show for any artist who would it be?
In Kenya, it would definitely be the amazing Karun and Xenia Manasseh. I feel like our audiences would really blend and they are also who I really look forward to collaborating with in the near future.
International – Alive Trippie Redd, Dead Juice Wrld, Lil Peep, and XXXtentacion. We do the same hip-hop subgenre [Emo-rap] and our audiences would not conflict in any way.
Let’s talk about your latest single ‘Beautiful’, what inspired the song?
Haha… Wow. It’s actually one of my favorite songs. The lyrics actually speak more for itself. It’s just about being wholeheartedly for this someone special regardless of their scars. It’s you being truly in love with somebody that you want to spend the rest of your life with because they are amazing and they don’t see it that way. You just give them an assurance that they are amazing in every way. So yeah it was inspired by the most beautiful girl I know. Words can’t describe the song the same way I can’t describe how amazing she is.
You have a mixtape that you’re about to release? Care to share with us what it’s all about?
Yes. My upcoming mixtape is dubbed Sad Is a Never. It is an emotionally taxing project compared to my last project Scars & Roses [EP]. Clouded with themes of Love, Anxiety, depression, Suicidal Thoughts, and the toll chronic migraines have had on me. The lyrics to the songs in this project allow people to enter my raw state of mind and let them know that by sharing my music, I am finding closure and giving people who go through the same struggles hope and assurance they are not alone.
What would you say is the least uncommon thing about your music?
Probably the fact that it speaks on Issues not really talked about in the African home. Things like depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts I feel they are not yet taken that seriously and there’s more I can offer through my music. I love seeing people in love. Makes me very happy to see people in love. Love is common, we just show and feel it differently.
What’s your personal goal, when you create music?
Music is everything to me. I live music day in and day out. It’s like a part of my body’s organs. So when I create and record these tracks it’s mostly me penning down my raw thoughts and emotions. Some feel too personal or too dark to release, so I save them for myself. The goal for me is always to let out what I feel is weighing me down or what I can’t explain. That’s what makes it original for me.
You also happen to be a producer. Do you then happen to produce most of your music for yourself or sometimes work with other producers?
A Lot of people really get surprised to learn that I produce too. I feel I can understand myself more about what beats or melodies I want to express myself in. My current project [SAD IS A NEVER] is mostly produced by me. I work with other producers too, so far my mix engineer and also long-time producer Itskvm and Kvpture are producers I have been working with but I do produce most of my tracks.
What do you love the most about being an artist?
I really love this question. How do people have different perceptions of you before meeting you? One might see you as a drug abuser but in real life, you are struggling to get off these drugs. Some think you are constantly depressed just cause you wrote songs at a time when you were low. It’s the most fascinating thing for me. It’s either negative or positive and that makes it beautiful.
What will you be doing if it wasn’t for your music career?
I’d definitely be a lawyer specializing in criminal law. Couldn’t complete University due to personal reasons but yeah I’m definitely going back to finish that degree for sure.
What’s one message that you would like to give to your fans?
I love you all. The fact we are a community that checks up on each other mentally or emotionally means the world to me. A community where we are there for one another. The fact that some of your email or DM me cause you are mad I have not released a song in a long time says a lot. I really do appreciate you guys. You mean the world to me and more music is coming your way.
What’s next for you, Will be seeing some upcoming projects in the near future?
Most definitely. More music and even another project who knows. But yeah more and more music and to top it all some fire collaborations.
Lastly, your social media handles, where can people find you and get to interact/ listen to your music?
A big thank you to you guys before I sign off for having me on this interview. I enjoyed having this conversation with you guys and I’m hoping there will be a next time. Thanks again.
Instagram – onlymanuhisme
Twitter – manuhisme
Tik Tok – manuhisme
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