As far as social media etymology is concerned, we have spawned buzzwords that assist us in making light of and coping with our current journeys to becoming young-on-our-way to fully-fledged adults. From "uMgowo", "Let's get this bread, I guess", and the coveted "Adulting", we have shared the nuances that shape adulthood to be a journey of woe or willful joy as we assert our independence, find love, start families and by the will of our ancestors, mend if not break the generational curse in the wake of our spiritual becoming.
As introspective, emotionally in tune, immersive and exceptional 2022 #HuntersXJacquelCultureHouse (Durban Edition) winner and musical soothsayer Lungelo Manzi creates a space to consider things following his seal of self-affirmation and consoling single “BALANCE (feat. Lisa Mbali)” Lungelo invites us to sink deeper into accounting for the changes we are going through, allowing ourselves room to heal and embracing love in its purest form with his debut album, “ADULTING ANONYMOUS,” an exceptional body of work that resonates with the complexities of becoming an adult.
"ADULTING ANONYMOUS" traverses a thematic landscape characterised by personal growth, equilibrium amidst adversity, and the pursuit of genuine love. Lungelo Manzi's creative process is a delicate interplay of collaboration and remote communication. Although physical studio sessions with fellow artists are rare, meaningful conversations about the trials and tribulations of adulting have inspired him to include them on the album. The meticulous craftsmanship involved in sequencing the songs is evident, as countless hours were dedicated to crafting a sonic journey that seamlessly weaves together each track, inviting the listener to an immersive and emotionally charged experience.
In his exploration of love and spirituality, Lungelo Manzi intertwines the personal and the universal, highlighting the generational ties and the impact of our foremothers' and forefathers' experiences on our perspectives of love. His vision of love as inseparable from spirituality resonates deeply as he reminds us of the interconnectedness of our internal and external worlds. With his thought-provoking lyrics and soul-stirring melodies, Lungelo invites us to redefine our relationship with love and seek authentic connections in a world inundated with societal standards and the court of public opinion.
In this illuminating exclusive interview, we gain a deeper understanding of the artistic journey that led to the creation of his debut album, "ADULTING ANONYMOUS." Through thoughtful responses, Lungelo reveals the delicate interplay between vulnerability and strength, personal growth and self-reflection, and the complexities of navigating adulthood from a musician unafraid to confront adulthood's challenges head-on.
Watch “BALANCE (feat. Lisa Mbali)” Here:
The Libra Scale of Lungelo Manzi is the balanced marriage of Rap lyricism & R&B songwriting, and Vocal Undertones & While “Black Dog 1 & 3” Held this contrasting equilibrium, the extreme of “Black Dog 2”, which leaned more into rap, has been met with “ADULTING ANONYMOUS” which leans into more altruistic R&B. From a conceptual standpoint what influenced the decision to lean in that conceptual direction, do you feel rap limited the fullness of the vulnerability that you wanted to capture about your 20s up to this point?
Lungelo Manzi: Hmm, I'm not sure. I see myself as a songwriter using the voice as a literal instrument of words, rhythm and melody. In this way, I embrace rap and singing equally as tools to write a song that moves me enough to see myself in the experience of listening back. People have received me as a rapper and less as a singer because of my earlier projects. However, I grew up singing and found rap in my late teens. I wanted to reconnect with this beyond just hooks, and in exploring the emotions required to sing the way I do on the album, the music itself became more vulnerable as a result. I didn't want to rap for rapping's sake either but to showcase my storytelling in the context of figuring out your twenties.
In contrast to the agony of enslaved Blues, Jazz, Soul, R&B and revolutionary Neo-Soul of the newly free, “ADULTING ANONYMOUS” represents a generation honing and elevating conscious musing in the undertones. At the very least, is it progressive to have a name and treatment methods for the mental affliction we incur when we are adulting, or are we in a perpetual cycle of new faces for the same problems?
Lungelo Manzi: The thing I had in common with people my age was that we were all going through it, and a lot more so since the pandemic. Two years passed, becoming the adults we are with those restricted movements and interactions. If my earlier work was about catharsis, this new album is about finding support (from within, in supporters of the music, and in real-life connections with people) as we navigate healing and what that looks like. A support group for 'adulting' felt like the fitting metaphor that's both inclusive and accessible simply by listening to the album and empathising with the lyrics confessing my lived experiences. It's progressive in the sense that I want to move forward in my own life, and this music maps the highs and lows in doing so over the last three years.
The soundscape of "ADULTING ANONYMOUS" combines elements of Neo-Pop, Neo-Soul, Afrosoul, Afrobeats-esque Afro-Sou And Trap. The song also features a diverse range of talented artists and performers. Can you share some enlightening conversations between you, the producers, and the other writers and performers involved in curating that created the vulnerable and intimate texture of our “ADULTING ANONYMOUS” listening experience?
Lungelo Manzi: Funny enough, I rarely share studio sessions with the artists I work with. It's mostly been sending music back and forth, especially with the other artists featured. Dave Audinary and I have more than 10 songs together, and the process has always been picking beats from his Beatstars page and sending him drafts of the music once recorded. The same goes for BEEZ on BALANCE. After finding the beat on his IG page, I texted him the recorded song. I texted Lisa Mbali for vocals sometime later during the process of finalising the tracklist. I'd only shared an in-person session with Audio Simz, where he helped record my vocals on DUBB at Cultured Chaos Studios in Durban while working on a number of projects. I'm a fan of everyone featured on this album and, to some extent, have shared conversations related to adulting that inspired my wanting to include them on the album.
Please expand on the craftsmanship that went into sequencing the songs? There is something remarkable about the song transitions!
Lungelo Manzi: I've had a private listening playlist on my SoundCloud page for about two years where I religiously played back the order of music, rearranging the sequence at least 100 times to start and complete a feeling I was looking for that ran from top to bottom. With more music, there were more combinations to consider, ones favouring the story in the lyrics from one song to the next and others favouring the sonic journey from low to up-tempo and back down. The final result you hear is the closest to finding that feeling while keeping the story coherent from the first song to the last. So I really appreciate the sequencing resonating because I put a lot of hours into that alone, haha.
Watch “FAILURES TO LAUNCH PT 1” Here:
Your Verse on "RIGHT NOW" makes me wonder about our collective relationship with escapism and consolation, where we sometimes find therapeutic function in intoxication. What is it about escaping versus amicable confrontation that seems like a lighter load to carry? Why would we rather forget about it than face it head-on?
Lungelo Manzi: I think the thing I'd seen in my late twenties is that I almost always knew what to do, to move forward. The answer required either trust in my ability, discipline in my actions or a sense of fulfilment in my environment. Besides that, the chat was always needing money or a qualification to sustain myself. Facing the bad and the ugly parts within, oftentimes felt like work in itself, and when you're in the thick of it emotionally, that work feels no different to your own experience trying to survive each day's rejections. So indulging the temporary and fleeting moments of escaping feels closer to rest even when it's distorted. It's what made sense to get by.
In "LIKE AMY", you say, "Overtaken by overthinking when under pleasure/So sacred, but so impatient to find the errors", highlighting the tendency to over analyse and miss out on enjoying the present in romantic relationships. Do you feel that internet culture, with its clickbait tweets and the court of public opinion, has perpetuated this mindset? Are we constantly held to high standards and criticised, making it challenging to fully embrace love and authentic connections?
Lungelo Manzi: I might not be the best person to ask this. I curate my social media to reflect new information, humour and creative/academic information, and I've found genuine connections using dating apps in the past. I learn so much about other people through the banter and the discourse I find this way using technology. Some opinions I see online challenge my own views and improve my outlook. Other times it completely doesn't connect. In both cases, I made up my own mind about it. With that said, I do feel authentic connections are harder to make, and I also think we're in a time of revising many things different groups of people are realising they no longer subscribe to, and that's bound to cause friction and a few others to play into the clickbait and attention in the midst of the constantly-changing tide in the court of public opinion. For the record, LIKE AMY was a story that was found far from the internet and its standards, haha.
In "LIKE AMY's" second verse, you say, "You're getting back a generation ruined/You're making more of spiritual improvement", which suggests a contrast between the difficulties inherited from previous generations and the progress made on a spiritual level. Do you think there's a correlation between the social conditioning of today's texture of life and the predestined aspects rooted in your foremothers' and forefathers' experiences of love? How do you define the connection between love and spirituality in your perspective?
Lungelo Manzi: Definitely, we are the fruit of those who came before and carry the sum of those experiences in our genes and heritage. Love is no exception to this in as far as how we are taught (or not) to engage connections. How do you define the connection between love and spirituality in your perspective? Love and spirituality are inseparable for me. My spirituality defines my connection with the external world from within, and love brings connections greater than the sum of its parts when it works. Nurturing either aspect helps the other.
"BALANCE" delves into the theme of personal growth and finding equilibrium amidst life's challenges. In the lyrics, you mention the need to save yourself and take help, evoking a sense of accountability. How do you navigate the nuances of self-preservation, especially when it means letting go of something your younger self held near and dear? Do you struggle with the concept of ageing, or do you age with grace?
Lungelo Manzi: Preserving self for me means getting out of a state of survival and lack. After messing up my first attempt at university, I chased a stable income for the rest of my twenties. That chase bled into my writing a lot of times, taking away from the fun of it all. Rap was also emphasised as a young man's game, and around the time the pandemic started was where I felt I was finally building momentum offline as an artist in Durban. It was the frustration of the two years lost indoors that brought the conversation of age to the fore alongside this constant search for employment and the black tax not far behind.
With ageing, letting go of things is easier for me when I can fully understand why it no longer serves me. That 'why' sometimes took some solitude, escapism, prayer and time with loved ones to figure out. I don't mind aging. With this album, talking about turning 30 was important to contextualise the time within which these songs happened. We put and are given so much pressure on what our twenties should look like, and I wanted to simply share a realistic account closing out my decade on the second floor with this.
Lyrically, “BALANCE" touches on the challenges and uncertainties of adulthood, as well as the willingness to overcome self-doubt and take necessary steps toward personal growth. Can you elaborate on the specific struggles and triumphs you express in the song? How do you believe that redefining freedom and responsibility contributes to finding a sense of balance and enjoying the process of adulthood?
Lungelo Manzi: In the last ten years, I've worked in promotions, attended castings, applied for auditions in TV/Film and presenting, worked in a call centre, as a cashier and even as a background actor. These were all stints in finding stability for the mistakes I'd made in not finishing university the first time. I've moved between Cape Town, Durban and now Johannesburg throughout this process. My freedom relied on friends and family in different capacities, and I had to adjust my level of responsibility to keep on while persisting with this idea of being a musician and releasing music for people to enjoy and support. It's been a scramble that I feel exists a lot in the black experience. I've learned in the last year that balance comes from a full cup, and when it isn't, the things we can do to repair that sense of self are to be prioritised because we return to the world with more to give without resentment.
Lastly, what can we expect from you in the near future from the "ADULTHOOD ANONYMOUS" experience? More shows? Music videos? How will you inspire us to make something out of this place to consider things we call adulthood?
Lungelo Manzi: My focus, having just completed my first year now based in Johannesburg, is to play more shows, collaborate with more of the artists from this city and across disciplines and put more focus on self-improvement that improves the music, my quality of life and those I choose to share in it with offline. I have music videos planned; it's just looking for ways to bring those ideas to life with funding since I support and manage myself as an artist.
Watch “FAILURES TO LAUNCH PT2”:
Stream/Download “PARADISE” Here:
Connect With Lungelo Manzi
SoundCloud: Lungelo Manzi