Here is a ManeLine interview originally conducted mid-April 2009 which in part, ran in The Metropolitan. This is the interview in its entirety.
As frontrunners of the ever growing
LUMBAJACK: How did ManeLine form, and how many years have you been a group?
Maneline came about….well, as a fluke. ManeRok used to be part of another group who at the time was starting to get opening slots for touring acts. At one of their first major shows an old friend would pop his head thru the door-InkLine. InkLine hadn’t seen ManeRok’s show in years, and after this current show, chopped it up with Mane about working on a few songs and maybe getting some shows. In the following weeks the 2 built more and decided to do an EP all while Mane was finishing his original groups project. IN this same time frame, Mane’s ex-partner in rhyme would suddenly fall off the face of the earth getting swallowed by the black hole of “adulthood.” Mane and InkLine would decide “hell, let’s make a full length” since things were working out the way they were. They scoured the front range for a DJ-and he was found. Tense.
LU: Tell me about “…& Sew It Seams”, the time it took to complete, and how it’s being received.
MR: “…& Sew Its Seams” took about 1.5 years to complete as in actually release. The music itself probably only took 3-4 months in total…but life happens and we had a gang of shows, so recording, mixing, and mastering would take a back seat at times. This album is a continuation of not only discovering ourselves in our personal lives, but also what we are capable of as a group. Personally, I think it might be ahead of a lot of people. Not that it’s on some ‘never-done-before’ music, but it’s on some ‘never done before in
LU: What is your favorite track on the project?
Was really a hard pick for all of us…
TE: All Alone
MR: Aint Real Aint Right
IN: Aint Real Aint Right
LU: Describe the ManeLine sound, how it evolved, and where you would like to see it go.
IN: The sound can’t really be pinpointed. Whereas we have some cuts that are straight forward boom bap, we really are just trying to make good music. Boundaries in music nowadays are so blurred, it’s unnecessary to classify in that sense anymore. I think we will always be raising the bar and figuring out something bigger and better to do in regards to song writing and structure. As for live shows we’re just building on the production aspects.
LU: Tell us a bit about the Mane Rok solo project with Es-Nine and how that is going to differ from a ManeLine Record. Is there a tentative release date for this project?
MR: Well…in all honesty the first solo project will actually share a similarity with the newest ManeLine album in that it will have an array of producers on it-from the family like Es Nine, InkLine, Yonnas (the Pirate Signal), Ichiban and Deca, to even newer family like 800 The Jewell(Jewell Tyme Music) and more. It’s just an EP, so some cuts will be made. After that-there are a few ideas that have been thrown around, but it depends on the availability of these producers all the same. The EsNine/ManeRok project would be called “En Stereo” but I am also looking at doing a solo Ep with Yonnas producing it…and possibly others. Just depends on the timing of course. The difference is that it will be 100% Mane on the verses-with the exception of the singers that will be brought in. DJ wise…well that is yet to be decided-I am gonna let the music dictate the DJ usage.
LU: Tell us a bit about your lyrics writing process, and the topics covered within your lyrics.
MR: The process varies. Sometimes one of us will start with a concept and we will continue to piggy back in the studio till something solid comes out. Sometimes it’s just a conversation we have…and a beat comes along later that fits the convo (“Poor Ugly People” for example.) So that isn’t classified as one formula. As for the topics….well it ranges from retrospective songs like “Big Plans” to industry overviews like “Aint Real Aint Right.” Is that it though? Not by a long shot. We try to cover a range of topics as life is so much more than one lane. “Before I Die” is about what one would do before that moment whereas “Soul On The Line” is a conversation between a man at the pearly gates (InkLine) and St Peter (Mane-the whole verse mentions the 7deadly sins and various other Christian dogmas/beliefs.) “Why Angels Cry” is not religious based at all, but is about those people we know who are extraordinary, but get lost searching for something they don’t realize they have, thus leaving them to lose it all. “Tic Toc” is some MC shit-just using lyrics (in this case bombs and other explosive verbage to explain that we are….the bomb!) Poor Ugly People…well this is about those who are so vain that they undergo surgery…..so all in all…we cover many topics.
LU: Tell us a bit about the history of L.I.F.E. Crew and its roots, and where it is headed.
MR: L.I.F.E. Crew started as a graffiti crew with Mane Rok and DJ AWHAT!! as 2 of the original 5 members - but even then, it was about us being family. Mane and AWHAT!! along with our old musical partner accounted for those interested in music at the beginning. As time went on and we caught some cases, music became the focus. I met Deca, Ichiban, and Yonnas at a YouNight in like 2003…from there the music portion took a hold. More folks repping the crew…but on a music tip. We were all so engrained in the scene though, we even had B-Boys like Fate (GWT) in the crew. At one point, some of the graf heads dropped it because they couldn’t get along with some of the other graf heads…and the crew got recognized more and more for music. That is what has brought us to today really. The music heads kept it alive. As for the future…only tomorrow will tell.
LU: What is in the works for ManeLine? Will there be touring for “…& Sew It Seams”?
TE: Actually, we are leaving on April 24 to the Midwest for a mini-tour with 3 The Hardway to start the support for the album. We are looking to get out a lot this year…touring in general.
LU: What are your feelings on the Denver hip hop scene?
TE: It’s always getting better as far as people collaborating more than they used to and the music has definitely matured in all aspects.
MR: Well…I can’t deny it hasn’t matured and gotten better. It sure has. Recently, I was asked this question in regards to everything I am personally doing to “create” the scene. I had to explain to this writer that the scene has always been here; that I am a product of the scene, it’s just the public is oblivious to it. I am feeling that there is more quality than ever…seriously…and that the fans are catching on. I ain’t feeling the hate we get for that…but it is expected.
LU: Any future collaborations you are looking forward to? List a few dream collaborations as well.
TE: Premier/Black Milk/Revolution
MR: Pharoahe Monch would be huge for me. Locally…Karma and Haven of Jewell Tyme, Thunderstorm…and a few others that are straight doing their thing. Julox amongst them…
IN: Pharoahe, Bun B, touring w/Gnarls Barkley
LU: What is in the future for L.I.F.E.House? Tell us a bit about how that came about.
MR: LIFEhouse is the combination of LIFECrew and House Of Waxx…it’s just family. We support each other and throw shows together. It happened as we did more and more shows-no big bang theory. As for the future…again…who knows??
LU: DJ Tense, tell us a bit about your accomplishments as a DJ and your plans as a DJ for the future, as well as anyone you might be working with on top of your duties for ManeLine.
TE: a) Being able to share the stage with so many acts and dropping these 2 ManeLine albums as well as being a part of Deca and Ichiban’s albums. All the press we have received, but for in particular 02 Denver Guitar Center Champ (Beat DJ Psycho of RadioBums.)
b) A gang of mixtapes and just moving forward and upward.
LU: Outside of the House of Waxxx connection, what other Denver artists would you like to collaborate with in the future?
MR: Jewell Tyme is the new fam for real. They got our back…we got theirs. Julox…ummm…Food Chain has been bringing it..there might be some future things with them. Paradox-Dope Sex…the unheard illness! We will see…there are quite a few nowadays bringing it.
LU: Inkline, tell me how you got started producing, what equipment you use, and where you would like to go with it in the future?
IN: MPC and more MPC’s. That’s where it’s at…future, past, and present.
LU: What artists are your biggest inspirations? What keeps you motivated as a group and as solo artists in hip hop?
TE: Qbert and all scratch Picklz, Revolution, Beat Junkies, Premier, Xcutioners, Allies.
MR: Pharoahe, Common and Elzhi on some MC shit, but there are so many, it’s hard to even pinpoint anymore.
IN: Radiohead/Outkast/Dr Dre/Deca
LU: Where do you see hip hop headed in the next few years? Do you see yourselves updating your sound to keep up with the ever-changing face of hip hop, and how do you see your sound evolving?
TE: I think things are coming back full circle to the “true skool”era-esque. Less bling and more substance.
MR: I agree with Tense…gotta admit, Kanye really did usher in this resurgence in my eyes-but who knows where it will go? As far as updating the sound…if you love music and continue to make it, its natural to evolve, just like this album was for us.
LU: What has been the biggest honor or achievement so far for ManeLine?
MR: For me…working with the folks we have and having met so many great people from press to fans to artists. Technically…being recognized in Spin Magazine…the SoCo Music fest…there’s been a few….but the biggest is yet to be seen.
IL: Urb’s Next 1000 Recognition…the first Hip Hop group on a Westword cover is a given.
Pick up “…& Sew It Seams” at Twist and Shout Records or find them online at: