The year is 1998. Chris Greenwood lies in a bed with severe foot injuries from a skateboarding accident. Up to that point in time skating was his life, his passion. But at that moment he was faced with a decision: Would he give into defeat, having lost his lifes dream, or would he find a new purpose for his existence? Having nothing more than a pad, a pen, and a prayer he came to his crossroads with a new sense of courage.
I closed my eyes and prayed for God to give me new direction in my life. It was a little scary because I didnt know what that would be, but I knew that I wanted to be used by the Lord to affect people. I would never completely let go of skateboarding, as I was so heavily involved in that culture. So, I asked heaven for some new way to use my gifts. I began writing lyrics in my bed. When I got well, I had some skateboarding friends who also were heavily into hip-hop culture. Gradually, the doors opened for me to begin pursuing that as a career, while still existing on the fringes of the skate underground. Its been the most amazing answer to prayer...and my existence as an artist is evidence of Gods provision.
Over the course of the next several years he would start over, from scratch, working his way up the hip-hop infrastructure in his home town of Toronto, Canada. He hit open mics on a weekly basis. He wrote and rewrote lyrics for hours and hours on end. He performed his rhymes on any and all stages. He hung out at skate competitions and parks, starting beat/rhyme circles. And not only did he spit written works, but he began experimenting with freestyle--an on-the-spot, off-the-top-of-the-head application of verse performance only meant for the sharpest of minds. He soon found himself excelling in aspects of his b-boy trade.
Manafest--a name signifying the physical manifestation of Gods glory--became Chriss name. And what word would be more appropriate for his sophomore release on BEC Recordings? Glory is exactly what he wants to be revealed through every element of his life, and it shows on every moment of this release. And though he made a strong impression on his debut Epiphany, there is little doubt that Manafests sophomore campaign will be his opus. Blending both urban influence with suburban energy, this is a rock-oriented hip-hop record that is an authentic presentation of rock-solid faith amidst uncertainty and trial.
I wanted to allow all of my influences show on Glory. Musically, I wanted to blend the appeal of Linkin Park, Sum 41, and the Beastie boys. Vocally, I wanted to merge that with popular hip-hop a la Eminem and Kanye West. But beyond musical influence, I wanted to reflect on the issues around me in the most positive way possible. And whether I am talking about the loss of loved ones and abuse, or break-dancing and skate culture, its all for the glory of heaven. In the end, my prayer is that people would not simply bob their heads to this, but feel a very real sense of healing from the words. However, this record is not all serious. Some of my favorite tracks are the most lighthearted ones.
To aid in the diversity of this release--and it does run the gamut--Manafest spread production duties between Adam Messenger, Chris Stacy, The Brotha Lo Key. There is a blend of production approaches, accentuating the dynamics of each song. The rock moments are heavy and intense, while the hip-hop moments are rhythmic breakthroughs. Manafest has a unique rhyming style that sits somewhere between hardcore and pop; its aggressive without alienating the audience. This is truly an album for many musical tastes, a multicultural cross-pollination of genres.
Perhaps the most poignant note of Glory, though, is Manafests desire to remain honest in his approach. He makes it clear that he is not hiding anything, and that he is not here to play the game of the music industry. The is something freeing--infectious even-- about vulnerability, without giving a nod to ego or attitude. On Critics Manafest addresses the negative attitude in hip-hop surrounding MC battles. Rather than promote tearing down another, even in the spirit of competition, he promotes love in the b-boy community: You can take the glory, Im not fake fronting...Your own insecurities is killing ye softly. On Dreams he confesses that hip-hop was not his dream at first, but Gods dream for him. And though nay sayers could site this as a reason to question his legitimacy, he is confident that his integrity comes form his testimony: I wasnt supposed to be here, compose and flow here. Perform for your ears saying ah yeahs. My dream was to skate, Cali calling my name. Whod a thought my foot would break, me limping in pain? Finally, on Where Are You?, perhaps the most courageous song on the album, Manafest shares about the loss of his father as a child: Whyd you leave me, hanging from the ceiling? Angels stopped singing and moms not sleeping. Im not bitter or mad, Im just missing a dad. Sitting here thinking, praying wishing you back.
The first single on the album, Impossible, a song co-written by Thousand Foot Krutch frontman Trevor McNevan, promises to be a rock-radio staple this fall. Its subject matter, true to Manafests form, deals with encouraging healing in children who have been abused at home. His hop-hop single, Bounce is a b-boy party anthem which guarantees to make heads bob. As Glory hits multiple formats with its unique niche in the industry, it will be exciting to watch Manafests sphere of influence grow.
He shared the stage with everyone from Thousand Foot Krutch to Skillet to Superchick to Spoken on his freshman campaign, building a solid foundation which promises to grow when Glory drops September 26, 2006. And in the process, Manafest developed quite a reputation for quick-wit and lightning-fast reflexes, displaying rare skill in freestyle. In the year to come, he plans on performing over 200 shows in support of his new release. But despite committing himself to round-the-clock work to further his musical ambitions, he remains focused on his true motivations.
It's hard going on the road and staying connected to God and unless you have a plan you will fall. A new standard needs to be set. Wheres the person making hit music who also loves the Lord? I have come too far to get distracted now. Whether I sell ten records or ten million I want everyone to know this: I want to make great music but never compromise who I am in Christ to be successful. I am not doing this for any other reason than for his Glory.
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