Meet the MCs on MANS O’s HI-TECH TONGUE

As we navigate a world of seperation and conflict, it feels like music is both a tool for escapism and also a stark reminder of the dark realities of the world we’re living in right now. There are both positives and negatives to the journey we’re on and whilst it may not feel united, there are collectives and communities dotted across the globe who are actively participating in these discussions and working on a solution so that at the end of this we’re not approaching a new normal in the same mindset we were left in before. In Spain, Barcelona-based producer MANS O is working tirelessly to fight the system and go against the grain by bringing together like-minded, international artists for the collaborative EP ‘HI-TECH TONUGE’. With each artist providing fire verses over MANS O’s boisterious beats, the contributors are speaking in their own language, highlighting a very specific global community, all with the same goal in mind. As we get to know some of these artists, which include B4MBA, MBODJ, Mookie, La Rana, Opoku, Khadija Zhar, Baba Sy, Gitano del Futuro and Ikram Bouloum, you will find that there are words which are repeated throughout their answers including unity, health, spirituality and freedom. This is shown through various forms whether it’s living in a world that’s no longer occupied by capitalism, a world without borders, a life where your not tied back and constantly worried about money or a world without conflict. All simple ideologies but complex battles. It’s a breath of fresh air as we read through these artist’s hopes and dreams, and how MANS O and the ‘HI-TECH TONGUE’ project brought all of these people together. Some are real life friends and others were connected through social media – one of its only benefits. There’s a lot of positivity and wholesomeness mentioned in here as we all can connect and agree on one thing, that we all love to share the things we’re passionate about.

 

MANS O

After an intense 2019, where many events were taking place in Barcelona at the same time, a notion of a sonic power which, was not present before in the city, was visible to me. After XXIII approached and proposed to release something, I felt the urge to illustrate this kind of sonic power that could be incarnated in the figures that appear in the release. Barcelona is very mixed, has a very pleasant proportion and allows us to get a lot of valuable musical information due to the strong activity of the city. The conversations between like-minded friends strive to see a more coherent flux of creative freedom in a country that is too focused on the commercial and what comes from the outside or what is backed by international awareness as opposed to understanding the super diverse and rich tissue of its inhabitants. During my musical career, my awareness of all the flaws that the socioeconomic and geopolitical colonialist structure is leaving us has been increasing thanks to understanding and meeting people of different origins, mixed contexts, and with a broad perspective on the sense of identity and self-empowerment. I feel so honored to have representation of one of the most important musical amplifying collectives, Jokkoo, that has provided Barcelona with a lot of events, radio shows, DJ sets, concerts and information focused on African diaspora sounds and re-claiming the respect and visualization of all these rhythms. MBODJ, Baba Sy, Mookie, B4mba, Opoku and Ikram Bouloum are the active forces behind it. The other vocal guests are Khadija Zhar, rapping in Darija as opposed to Ikram’s Amasik, both from different areas of Morocco. I found it important that there were two Moroccan languages acknowledging the big community present in all Catalonia and the entangled histories between the countries.

Gitano del Futuro is a very talented free spirit is representing a strong Queer community that is ever-growing in the city, and La Rana is one of my high school friends with whom I’ve been exploring music closely since. I hope you enjoy the ride and hope this record serves as a snapshot of a very vibrant reality of Barcelona that has been difficult to get exposed to but is about to explode! Love and Gratitude to all sonic explorers.

 


B4MBA

Introduce yourself – who are you and how did you get into music?

I’m B4MBA from Montpellier, South of France, and I’m a producer and vocalist. I’ve been learning about music since childhood, sharing a double culture Spanish and Senegalese. I got those Latin and African influences and it became something serious 5 years ago when I start producing, hosting DJ sets in small clubs. Before we were always making improvisation, no matter which BPM it is. We can spit some bars on techno also (laughs), that’s what we used to say. Montpellier is a nice city for electronic music, so I grew up between hip hop, dancehall, disco, and house and techno clubs. All of this got me to Barcelona after being part of a different rap project in Paris. Now I’m focused on my personal and Jokkoo projects.

 

What does music allow you to do?

It’s the connexion, art and sport, emotional vector, but also science, history and culture. It’s one of the magical things that human and nature manage to keep through years.

 

What is your connection to the HI-TECH TONGUE EP?

Barcelona, good vibrations, all collectives are making unity to show that we have an new club music sound rising in the city. There’s a new generation with new codes. Mans O had the vision to bring this state of mind throught this EP, and we all share it.

 

What’s the story behind your lyrics on the EP?

Well with COVID, a lot of things have changed, and there is less work, but big compagnies still have their own profit. Not all people have access to good opportunities, only by being united and empathic we are going to change the local situation.

 

Who inspires you?

I love original soundtracks from anime and video games, traditional music from Mali and Sénégal, French rap, UK grime and drill wave, dancehall, and I listen soul, jazz, and funk since I can remember. I think all of this influenced me a lot.

 

What is your dream?

To make the world a peaceful place without borders and inequalities through an open mind and music – the mixed cultures are the future for sure.

 


MBODJ

Introduce yourself – who are you and how did you get into music?

My name is Maguette aka Mbodj and I got into music very naturally due to a big curiosity to find inspiring sound creators and the necessity to share their work with the people while satisfying my thirsty love for music. 

 

What does music allow you to do?

It allows me to feel less alone, to feel the world in a different way, and basically to survive!

It helps me to connect with other people and with myself a lot. It helps me to understand and know about other realities and to deal with my reality as well.

 

What is your connection to the HI-TECH TONGUE EP?

Roman of course. He invited me to be a part of it. He is one of the people that has helped me a lot during my process with being a music diffuser and we share a lot in and out the music bubble. 

 

What’s the story behind your lyrics on the EP?

It’s an everyday story. The story of healing and dealing. How do we transform our energy when we need to and where to look at for some peace and strength. Music is a big weapon if you know how to use it. 

 

Who inspires you?

Anyone with an intention of progression, collective resistance and healing. I feel very inspired by people that strives to bring joy, awareness, beauty and relief to the humanity altruistically. 

 

What is your dream?

To live and create without being conditioned by capitalism.

 


MOOKIE

Introduce yourself – who are you and how did you get into music?

I am MOOKIE aka MOOQUIDI aka NICO. I’m a French/Guadeloupéen DJ/Producer/vocalist/artist. I started Djing when I was 16 and then stopped for years, to go back at it around 2 years ago. I always was a selector, and I have been rapping and singing since I was a kid. I got into rap/hiphop/rock/punk first and then slided into more electronic and experimental type of sounds growing up.

 

What does music allow you to do?

It allows my craziness to come out, it’s a free way of expression and also a very straight forward manner to share a vision/story/opinions/emotions to a large amount of people without having to formulate it into words even sometimes.

 

What is your connection to the HI-TECH TONGUE EP?

I have a great connection with most of the artists appearing on the EP some of them are literally my family and we all share similar artistic opinions and visions, Mans O is also an inspiration as an artist.

 

What’s the story behind your lyrics on the EP?

My mate Opoku threw some bars and they inspired mine I tried to connect with what he was saying and give something personal at the same time, also the beat influenced a lot to the content of the lyrics.

 

Who inspires you?

I’m strongly inspired by my Caribbean(Guadeloupe) and African roots of my family (Cabo Verde) in any artistic project I do, also the outta space is a strong influence and musically talking I’m into all styles that come from the streets and underground manely afro / diaspora riddims or black music in general, wich is kind of a pleonasm!

 

What is your dream?

My dream is to be able to just do artistic projects all day everyday without having to think of how ima gonna eat or pay the bills the day after! 

 


LA RANA

Introduce yourself – who are you and how did you get into music?

I go by the name of La Rana, Le Ranso, Yago and Ferran. My first memories with music are on a walkman listening to Eminem and Chris Brown but my first real contact with music was through dancing hip-hop when I was young. When I was 17 I started producing and messing with hardware. Later on, I moved to Holland and started organizing club nights. There I realized that through music I could impact other people, started DJing, and the rest is history. Now I’m starting to investigate through my voice also.

 

What does music allow you to do?

After a while through making music I figured out that I could use my creative voice as a tool to manipulate identity and become a figure that can be meticulously crafted. There’s so many times where I am not even aware of where the project is landing, but just channelling the moment and the vibe so you end up picturing a very precise moment. Down to basics, studio time is just gold!

 

What is your connection to the HI-TECH TONGUE EP?

Mans O asked me to join the project and before you know it, it happened. But after the piece was created we went through a very enlightening and intense conversation around it. It has held a very important space for me for the past couple months.

 

What’s the story behind your lyrics on the EP?

When I first heard B4MBA rapping on the beat I got really attracted to his rhyme about the CEO. So when I sat down on my iPhone Notes to write the lyrics I just tried to mentally become that CEO. I thought of this character as a capitalist shark that always craved for more, better and faster. It is something that lately I’m seeing real close and this mindset just captivates me. It’s fabulous how such a rotten moral code can overtake our most beautiful beliefs.

 

Who inspires you?

I don’t think I can pin out people but I mostly get attracted to bright energy and intensity. I would say I get inspired by people who are able to undress their emotions. And I feel lucky enough that I surrounded myself with people that shine light on me. When it comes to the show business and mainstream artists, my main references over the years have been Tyler the Creator, Kendrick Lamar, ASAP Rocky and Kanye West. I think these are characters that truly embrace their creative responsibility. 

 

What is your dream?

I just wish for a comfortable space to inhabit for my people and I. Wealth, Health and Love are at the core. Money takes the most of our time and energy, so my most material dream is being able to erase this variable from my daily thoughts. We are working on it.

 


OPOKU

Introduce yourself – who are you and how did you get into music?

I am Opoku, an underground artist and afrobritish kukaracha living in Barcelona. I’ve been playing instruments and making beats since I was a small bicho. I started writing, rapping and singing seriously in 2020.

 

What does music allow you to do?

In sound I create my home and invite you.

 

What is your connection to the HI-TECH TONGUE EP?

I’m rapping on Spark It.

 

What’s the story behind your lyrics on the EP?

My lyrics name afroholistic disporic divinites and is a spiritual journey lived through these worlds and reflections.  

 

Who inspires you?

The one and their infinite names. 

 

What is your dream?

To wake up.

 


KHADIJA ZHAR

Introduce yourself – who are you and how did you get into music?

My name is Khadija Zhar and I’m Sahrawi Morrocan and I got in music through my friend’s music.

 

What does music allow you to do?

It allows me to express and create.

 

What is your connection to the HI-TECH TONGUE EP?

MANS O invited me to join on MAGIA’s beat and I am friends with Gitano del Futuro so the connection was easy and we recorded in one evening.

 

What’s the story behind your lyrics on the EP?

It is about lyrical history and the attitudes I wanted to express.

 

Who inspires you?

Everything inspires me.

 

What is your dream?

My dream? That humanity changes its mentality.

 


GITANO DEL FUTURO

Introduce yourself – who are you and how did you get into music?

I’m Gitano del Futuro, a light being from a close galaxy, now living in Barcelona.

Since I was a kid I loved music but never did the step to engage directly. Maybe because of my surroundings or this society we live in that always puts us in boxes. I leaned to dance, something that I’ve been always passionate about. While listening to so much music in the dance world, my heart and mind pushed me to sing, although I don’t consider myself a singer. I like to say I’m a 1000-faced artist.

 

What does music allow you to do?

Music makes me be who I really am. It makes me fly and escape from everything. It helps me to keep forward and believe more in myself and my future. It also allows me to give visibility to the Queer scene and show that race or culture cannot deny your own identity.

 

What is your connection to the HI-TECH TONGUE EP?

I met MANS O through Instagram and I instantly liked his work. I deeply believe in each one’s fate and I think we just had to unite to create this bomb piece.

 

What’s the story behind your lyrics on the EP?

I love the world of real magic and everything around it, and I also lean a lot to fantasy with my new works. Just the connection with MANS O and Khadija made me go into this subject and I think it solidified quite well.

 

Who inspires you?

I lack the space to write everything and the people that inspire mie. I get inspired equally from an artist or a random situation. Life and the Universe in general inspire me all the time.

 

What is your dream?

My dream is that one day we can be 100% human, with no conflict between us, that we support each other as artists and that we are all free and able to express who we are without any fear.

 


BABA SY

Introduce yourself – who are you and how did you get into music?

My name is Baba Sy and I got into music through organizing parties (laughs) and because there was a lack of DJ’s that played what I like so I started playing it myself and I’ve been increasingly feeling more comfortable to this day.

 

What does music allow you to do?

Connecting.

 

What is your connection to the HI-TECH TONGUE EP?

Mbolo moy dole! As I say in the track, together we are stronger! Unity is key.

 

What’s the story behind your lyrics on the EP?

I mention everyone on the record, illustrating this unit of people, this connection. I clarify that we all go out in the night but we don’t play with it. If we go out at night and don’t play that means we are working. So it is Work, Unity and Strength. And the rats mentioned are a metaphor of those who go out and don’t respect the night and play with it unconsciously by seeing it as something just to get wasted and get wild without even knowing what are you listening to. 

 

Who inspires you?

Souleyman Fey, a Sénegalese singer.

 

What is your dream?

To always share.

 


IKRAM BOULOUM

Introduce yourself – who are you and how did you get into music?

Ikram Bouloum is my name and the name of my musical project. I was born in Torelló to Moroccan parents and I’ve been living in Barcelona for 9 years. People know me as a DJ and artist but I am a very versatile girl. I am part of the renovated VOL venue in Barcelona and a recent member of Jokkoo.

I have always been interested in music as a motor. Music has a transgressive and historical character and I used to use it as a tool of analysis, to understand the future, and to formalize many thoughts that I have. Therefore, in a very organic way, I have ended up dedicating myself to it in many ways.

 

What does music allow you to do?

Music helps me explain complexities and sensibilities that would not otherwise expressed easily. Music has that visceral capacity that takes you to exceptional situations and experiences, and that allows me to connect with people that otherwise would not happen.

 

What is your connection to the HI-TECH TONGUE EP?

I’m the partner of Mans O. Likewise, He is my producer, so yes, I’ve been around all the creation process of this EP. Also, all the other vocalists are friends, so it’s an intimate connection.

 

What’s the story behind your lyrics on the EP?

Both with Mans O or, as with Maguette, even with Baba, I have had conversations about the spiritual, the sanction … We have thought about different energetic positions, and that has inspired me a lot. Besides, due to the historical moment that we are living in, it is almost necessary to speak of justice, priests, and above all, about the possibility.

 

Who inspires you?

All those people who tend to take care of others. Those that show their most vulnerable part, those that are capable of facing something big and trying to change it.

 

What is your dream?

I dream about a global freedom where a lot of stigmas break down and enable the birth of new ethics and moralities that are more fair and equitative.

 

‘HI-TECH TONGUE’ by MANS O is out now via XXIII – buy here.

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