Interview: Manolo Rose: 'I’d Sell Crack, Then Go Home To Make Salat'
Manolo Rose has been on his Barry Bonds business as of late -- in the studio knocking out hits. Yes, we know you’ve heard the raucous yet clever “Run Ricky Run,” which borrows themes and characters from classic urban flicks such as Boys N Da Hood, Juice and Menace II Society. It's been tearing up clubs from the Rotten Apple to New Orleans since the end of 2014. Rose’s bouncy and catchy cut is one of the standouts from the new New York sound.
“As far as the “Run Ricky Run” record, you really don’t know where the person is from that’s on the record,” Manolo Rose said on his visit to VIBE. “I’ve heard people say that it sounds like a Southern record, some people from the West even say that it sounds like it’s from [Cali] because of the gang of movies that’s attached to their culture.”
It was “Run Ricky Run” that made the 27-year-old MC into a local celebrity. But it’s alleged that the Brooklyn native is responsible for another catchy street anthem involving a gritty NYC rapper who’s intent on brining that ‘90s era classic New York rap back -- Troy Ave. The story goes: Troy Ave offered Rose some mula for a beat. Seeing an opportunity to help blossom his budding rap career, Manolo jumped at the chance. Unfortunately, Dope Boy Troy never hollered back. So Manolo put the song, “Dopeman,” into the streets. Then, it’s alleged that Troy Ave cuffed the underground banger and turned it into “All About The Money.” Once Troy got it, the song blew up encouraging Rick Ross and Jeezy to hop on song’s remix. However, the setback didn’t hinder Manolo -- he just chalked it up as a lesson learned. He even appeared in the “All About The Money” video alongside Troy Ave.
Shortly after the fiasco, Manolo unleashed “Run Ricky Run.” Now his new single, “Gun Fo” has been tearing up New York’s streets and clubs. VIBE recently linked with the upcoming MC to discuss the new New York sound, movies, selling drugs, the murder of his best friend and much more.
VIBE: How’d you get started rapping?
Rose: It just started with my homie, Telly. He was doing the music thing -- punk rock and incorporating rap into that. He sings on the “Run Ricky Run” track. He was running around doing a bunch of shows, and I used to come along with him and watch him perform.
I’ve seen you perform at S.O.B.s, your set was lit.
I learned to perform from watching my friends. They have a lot of energy 'cause they was coming behind actual bands with musicians and all that stuff, they was playing the drums, so it was a lot of energy. When you try to put rap behind that, you have to put forth a lot of energy. So that’s why when I do my performances I incorporate that hardcore hip-hop. I came from there and two years ago started doing my own music.
Is rapping something that you’ve always wanted to do?
Nah, my whole thing was running around with my homie. I was into clothing and stuff like that. I was into design and messing with vintage Ralph Lauren pieces and shit like that. That’s was the shit that I liked to do.
Do you still design?
Yeah, I’m still working on stuff now. I was into the Polo thing heavy in ’04 and then messing with Lo' Lives. They put me on the Polo thing.
What other rappers are you into?
My musical influences vary. I listen to Hov, AZ, DMX, M.O.P. But on the flip side, my favorite album is Coming Out Hard by Eightball & MJG. It's one of my favorite albums of all time. And at the same time, there's been times when I would listen to John Coltrane and Thelonious Monk for weeks. So it’s different for me. I pull from different areas. I’m at a perfect time because it's universal music, where you can’t really tell where a person is from unless he tells you. I’m not one of them dudes consistently screaming where I’m from.
Funny you said that. You don’t sound like the average "New York MC."
And I think that’s one of the things that’s currently happening with New York. Trying to figure it out what is the new sound. What people don’t give us credit for is how we have so many different cultures here. When you're speaking in the rap sense, they only want to focus on one type of rap -- Biggie, Nas and Jay. But you can’t tell me that if you put a DMX record on -- it wouldn't sound like a down South record. Not meaning the beats ‘cause the beats -- Swizz already had the sped up beats which was ill but if you put on “Get At Dog” on a down South beat it's going to sound like a down South record. So people from New York have to really realize that we've done turn up music. “What Up Blood” (50 Cent) can start a fight anywhere. Just start chaos. So you can’t really say, 'Yo, New York can’t do turn up music, that’s down South.' That’s not true at all.
It’s interesting that Eightball & MJG's Coming Out Hard is one of all your all-time favorite albums.
I lived in Fitzgerald, GA for a while. I wasn’t in the A, I was in the country, country. I lived down there for a couple months, actually went to school down there. And I went back and forth between there and Columbus, South Carolina. And I had family in North Carolina that I visited. I remember having arguments with them when they would say that Lil' Boosie is better than Jay Z. But, that was the argument because that’s their culture.
Other than wanting to design clothes, what else were you doing before this rap shit?
I used to hoop a lot. A lot of people that went to the league know me. Like Sebastian Telfair, Chris Taft -- I played against them, they know me. I went to Lincoln.
And I was in the streets. My homie Mike needed some money one day, and he was like, 'Yo, we ain’t having no bread. Damn, how we get us some?'’ I was like, ‘Yo, I got a little bit of money.” He said we should just go get an eightball and start selling crack. And that’s what we did. We took that and we flipped it. Started doubling money amongst each other. When you’re that young and you coming in with new shit and your moms is like: ‘Where is this coming from?’ So what we started doing… my mother worked, so we hid all his shit at my house.
And we had another big homie who was really protective of us and made sure we was alright -- Popcorn, he died. He was one of them dudes that’ll tell you shit is wrong, and then be like: ‘If this is what you want to do, this is how you got to do it.’ That’s how I got into that.
Damn, from your Instagram page you seem to be up on your Black history and heavy reading.
This is how I knew that something wasn’t right with myself. I always said that everybody got a little crazy in them. I used to sell crack. And while I’m selling crack, in my head, I used to sit there and be like: ‘This shit ain't right.’ But at the same time I’m doing the shit.
I got into Islam real heavy though Elijah Muhammad and then I got into orthodox Islam. I’d sell crack and then go home to make Salat and get up read book and be like: ‘Yo, these muthafuckas is all wrong.’ But still going out doing the same shit everyday. Then I realized that some form of ignorance is needed. Not saying that you got to sell drugs, but because too much of one thing will drive your ass nuts. Sitting in that room and reading all that shit and you really learning about the world and how the world really works--your mind will be really fucked up. So, you got to go out to the club sometimes, you got to drink, dance with some chicks, and have some fun. At the same time, get back to reading some shit like that.
What was the gap in between you reading books and giving up the dope game?
It went on for a few years. I really kept at it until my right mind kicked in. My homie had died and I kept going. One thing I say about education -- and I’m not talking about going to school. I’m saying as a self-educated person, what you need to know and what you really should know -- that shit transforms you and it makes you see the ills going on in the world. It made me be like: ‘Damn, this shit is crazy.’ At the same time, it taught me how to get money in other ways.
Why do you think we like people like characters like O-Dog, Bishop and Doughboy?
I think that they personify what you actually feel. It's like, when you come from the streets, coming from the area we come from -- I lived in one of the worst projects in Queens -- Edgemere Projects and it was the wild West when I was there. I lived on the Crip side and the beef with the Bloods was heavy. When you coming from that and you dealing with poverty, that shit makes you angry. And a lot of times poverty has no face. So this is a systematical thing of keeping you oppressed and making sure someone stay on his bottom.
In a capitalist world, that’s how shit works. Somebody got to be down here. In order for the top to work somebody got to be at the bottom. But it doesn’t have a face, so you get angry. It makes you extremely aggressive and you don’t even know who to be mad at because there’s nobody to look at and pin point.
So, what you start doing is taking that shit out on the people that’s around you. So, when you see a dude like O-Dog -- they described him as being young, black and not giving a fuck-- that’s how you feel. ‘I don’t give a fuck. I don’t care. It don’t matter to me. I’m just going to do whatever.’ That’s why we love those kinds of films. That’s the shit that’s embodied in us. Cause that’s the situation we’re in and we so fucked up in our heads because of it. And that’s why we have that attitude that makes you love them characters.