Manga Saint Hilare, a grime veteran, prides himself on representing the outsiders. His previous releases have reflected this and seen the MC talk about not conforming with those around him. This is reflected by his career choices, starting off as a member of Roll Deep, in 2014 he added the Saint Hilare to his name and adopted a more experimental sound. Murkage Dave, another outsider, makes music that deviates from the norm, allowing him to touch on things like anxiety and masculinity. The 2 regular collaborators recently released a joint project with a powerful and relevant message.
The album starts with We Need to Look After Us Pt. 1 which sees Manga start with a touching verse, giving a shout out to all the important people in his life, his friends and family, giving them a personal message each, and letting them know he is there from them. Manga has been in the game for a long time, and this song almost sees him taking on the responsibility of being an elder within the community. Murkage Dave ends the song with ‘there’s a £5 note in my birthday card, gotta make that last, we need to look after us.” Getting money in a card is one of the things you get from a loved one highlighting the importance of community in the song that we need to look after each other. This song felt especially poignant after the result of the recent election.
Next up is Can’t Keep a Badman down, with an 80s vibe that wouldn’t be out of place in GTA Vice City, Murkage Dave kicks things off with. Manga’s first verse sees him talking about his . His second verse seems to be directed towards those who use the culture without understanding it with clever lines “they keep saying bye Felicia, they don’t even know Felicia.” The co-opting of cultures and then the abandonment of the people whom are a part of the culture is something that is prevalent today. Murkage Dave’s chorus is encouraging, that no matter what happens, you can’t keep a badman down.
Both Murkage Dave and Manga have been known to experiment with their sound and take inspiration from various musical sources and Sweetboy Settings sounds like a straight up old school garage tune, a sound both artists came up on. The song would not sound out of place on an old school garage set.
Next up is I Don’t Know What They Told You But I’m Not A Moot, the title of which refers to the Athlete’s Foot tune where Wiley sent for Lethal B. Over some piano keys, Murkage Dave sings sinister lines “let me tell you something, I am good person, but I would do a bad thing, and there will be no conversation.” Murkage Dave delivers the lines smoothly that’s it’s still a vibe. Manga’s verse sees Manga at his last end, feeling tired and upset, as he speaks to someone who has pissed him off. The verse deals with mental health, depression the fragility of someone’s temper and the feeling of being taken advantage of. Manga’s voice on this track is powerful, showing the emotion behind his lyrics, creating a passionate track.
N*gga in a Suitcase sees Murkage Dave and Manga share their experiences with everyday racism that they receive. Over a guitar heavy beat, Murkage Dave recalls the looks he gets when walking on an aeroplane with Manga spitting about the awkward questions he gets, the response when people offend him but then act offended. The song, with its laidback beat and toned down vocals give a real sense of exhaustion from the artists, like they are understandably sick and tired of these experiences and having to deal with them.
The album takes more of an upbeat turn with the next 2 tracks Walk the Walk and ME +3. Taking an inspiration from house music, Walk the Walk is a bouncy track, with Murkage Dave’s smooth vocals sounding right at home over the bassy beat. Manga spits a verse but this track really lets Murkage Dave shines, as he flips flows as the beat changes. ME + 3 continues the vibe with a more dance-y track.
Things slow down next with my favourite song on the project, Weird Kids in The Ends. Over a sparse, utopic beat, Murkage Dave and Manga trade verses about being the outcast in their area, being different from those around them with Manga reminiscing on his childhood and Murkage Dave providing a haunting verse and chorus to bookend the song. The song speaks too many of us who don’t fall into a particular category, stuck in between different social groups, and as a result feeling like a bit of an outcast.
The next track Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I Am sees Manga and Dave get personal. Over a bass heavy beat Manga evaluates his status within a relationship, spitting about where he has gone wrong and fallen short with Murkage Dave admitting that no matter his words, he will continue to disappoint. Manga lays himself bare, showing frankness about how he sees himself.
The closing track We Need to Look After Us Pt.2 sees Murkage Dave kick things off over a piano heavy beat, discussing how the more famous he has become has made him more introverted his singing become more powerful as the beat builds. Manga’s verse continues the theme of anxiety but that ultimately, we are all the same, with his verse ending with the line “It doesn’t really matter what path that you took here, what route or what entrance, we all use the same exhibit,” with Murkage punctuating with a final ‘We need to Look After Us.”
This project on the whole is incredible, Manga and Murkage Dave have a genuine chemistry, and their experimentation with their sound, taking influence from various genres, leads to an exciting project. The project touches on powerful topics, community, anxiety, masculinity, racism, cultural appropriation, with Murkage Dave and Manga engaging the listener with an honesty and vulnerability that is refreshing. Being bookended by We Need to Look After us Part 1 and 2, Manga and Murkage Dave push the idea of self-care and caring for each other, a powerful statement in these trying times. This project is an amazing addition to both artists’ discography and I anticipate future collaborations between the 2.
Words by Daniel David