Meekz Manny Is Playing His Position

If it was the February drill heater “Year Of The Real” that first alerted you to the powerful tone of Manchester rapper Meekz, you’d be forgiven for assuming he was one of the genre’s staples, such is the way he attacks the MKThePlug and Sapphire Beatsz production with a choppy, quick-fire flow laced with menace, street boasts and presence.

But Meekz is no drill artist. Before “Year Of The Real”, he had spent most of 2019 drip-feeding listeners with freestyles and loosies that fit more into the ‘road rap’ category, punctuated by moments of introspection and unapologetic honesty. It’s this kind of self-reflection that makes the likes of Potter Payper’s music so resonant, and while Meekz is just getting started, the comparison feels right.

On the surface, the rise of Meekz appears to have been a rapid one, but of course the truth runs way deeper than that. “I’ve been rapping my whole life,” he tells me. “Literally, since a baby. I used to freestyle almost every day, to the point where people used to beg me to rap. Man used to beg me to drop something for them to listen to, and I always had the heat there ready for them. Even my head and my heart used to tell me—I don’t know which one—‘Yo! You need to do this, man.’ But obviously, it took a long time. It took a long time to even find the confidence to even speak up, in that sense.”

Meekz was born into a harsh environment. His role models coming up were living a life where young men often take big risks in order to carve a route out of that place. It’s easy to sit from a comfortable distance and judge, but if you know that world, then you know those choices are often entirely rational. That being said, you can be born into one world, yet destined for another. “I always knew I was meant to do this,” says Meekz. “I always knew in myself, and I always had people around me telling me that I needed to do music. I had, like, a thousand different flows at one point. Not even lyrics! Thousands of flows have just been given away—you know, to the air, to the mandem, to the up-above. It’s only right that I bring them back and let people hear it and tap into the energies.”

The masked rhymer thinks very carefully about what he reveals of himself. His face is more than known in his hometown, but he keeps his appearance concealed in the spectacular visuals that have accompanied his fire releases, in order for listeners to absorb the depth of his message. “I stay with the mask because I want people to take the music in more than look at my image.” It’s also for this reason why he won’t be drawn on details of the cases he’s caught. This is understandable. There’s a sense of empowerment that comes with maintaining control of our own narratives.

Meekz came up listening to rappers like Master P and the No Limit Soldiers, Soulja Slim and C Murder—respected US rappers for whom the legitimacy of what they were spitting about was never in question. His excellent debut EP, Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop, speaks to those influences. With an attention-grabbing, gravelly cadence, Meekz delivers hard-hitting verse after hard-hitting verse, typified by what is arguably the most important quality for rappers of his ilk: realness. There’s an undeniable authenticity to Meekz and his work. He’s lived the life he raps about. Along with the success, he’s also known incarceration and grief—the project is underpinned by the pain of losing two close friends: fellow Manny artists, Tekka and Dale Deezy. The Bone Thugs-N-Harmony-sampling “6 Figures” addresses this pain with a powerful candidness.

“The long-term vision is wherever the people see me, wherever the universe sees me. I can only manifest what I can manifest.”

It was while in jail, in 2018, that Meekz experienced a true moment of clarity. “Something catastrophic happened,” he explains. “I basically saw my life flash before my eyes and the best way to put it is basically that. I realised that life is short and time is golden. I’d been meaning to leave that life behind, but I always got drawn back in and focused on other shit, but when I had that quiet moment in jail, I realised I’m getting too old for this stuff and that was it for me.” Before he touched road again, Meekz wrote himself a cheque for £100,000 from a major record label, signalling his intent. A believer in speaking things into existence, this was him manifesting a path away from the life he was living, towards something much better. “I’m a rapper now, I’m sleeping good,” he raps on the anthemic “God’s Clever”. Peace of mind is a rare and priceless commodity, and doing music is helping Meekz attain that elusive quality.

It’s often been said that the specific skill-set required to do road is transferable. If given the opportunity, young men living that life can thrive in other industries where money can be made without the threat of jail time, violence, or worse. Meekz’s previous experiences have served him well in the music industry so far. “Before music, I feel like I was a major topic of discussion and I was a major part of gossip,” he says. “I’ve always been a bit of a tourer, you could say: city to city, estate to estate, state to state. I’ve travelled a lot! My name’s traveled a lot, do you know what I mean? Like, my first freestyle, I say ‘my name rings a bell’ because, before music, my name was really ringing bells. So whether it prepped me or not, I don’t know, but it definitely influenced and affected the way I entered and the way I continue to move.”

Attacking his new line of work, Meekz has involved himself in every part of the artistic process—from production and distribution, to creating artwork and editing visuals. There’s a real hunger to understand every aspect of the business. “If someone sends me a beat, I’ll write to it and then I won’t ever use it,” he says. “If I’m honest, I don’t even look at them. Even [Steel] Banglez and Da Beatfreakz have sent me beats and I’ve just told them I’d rather work together and come up with something on the spot, and have my own input. I’m a bit of a creative control freak, so everything down to the music, the beats, the way it gets put out, the way it gets filmed, the way it gets edited, down to the artwork, the way it goes onto the platforms and stuff, the streaming—I’m very hands-on. I feel like where I am now is all good and well, but to be honest, I just love the process and I enjoy watching the progress, knowing that I’m doing something and we’re working towards something.”

“I’m gonna continue to succeed in whatever I do. Whether that be music, food, acting, I just wanna succeed forever.”

Of course, it’s his skill in the booth that has been crucial to the impact he’s made on the UK music scene thus far. Meekz is guided by energies and feeling when he’s recording. “I just hit the booth, make the beat on the spot, make the flows, make the lyrics; I don’t even know what I’m gonna say on that day sometimes. Literally, that’s how ‘God’s Clever’, ‘Rap Aside’ and ‘6 Figures’ came about. With ‘6 Figures’, I had the lyrics ‘six figures, couple songs, but my nigga’s gone’ in my head, and I was waiting for the moment to hit the booth and extend on that feeling. That one line gave me a whole feeling and a whole meaning. So that’s one tune, but the other ones are just the energies on the day, how I’m feeling on the day.”

It’s this belief in energies and self-actualisation that will help shape Meekz’s future. He’s changed his path now, and is fully focused on personal advancement. “The long-term vision is wherever the people see me,” he says, “wherever the universe sees me. I can only manifest what I can manifest. There’s another part where the people have to also manifest and the universe will shift into that direction. So in that regard, where do I see myself? When people ask that question, it’s where do they see me? Now that I’ve learnt how the world works and understand that everything is timing, patience, I’m gonna continue to succeed in whatever I do. Whether that be music, food, acting, I just wanna succeed forever.”

Posted on August 04, 2020