Maudlin mopery from an artist delivering unremarkable pop rap fare
Alex Macpherson 2011
These days, one feels almost pathetically grateful for a new urban pop artist who doesn't default to the overdriven, Eurohouse chart template. When the first few tracks of Mann's debut album demonstrate the 20-year-old rapper's penchant for old-school G-funk and an actual light touch, it's enough to make you predisposed to look on it favourably.
It's not a feeling that bears much scrutiny. The album is helmed by one JR Rotem, whose discography to date places him firmly into the ‘generic hack’ category of producers: Rihanna's SOS, Iyaz's Replay, so many Jason Derülo singles that you begin to feel that the immediate hunting down of this man is a necessity for the improvement of pop music. His signature trademark, if it can be termed that, seems to dump a gigantic, obvious sample on to the choruses of his songs, and on Mann's World he doesn't ‘disappoint’: Nuthin' but a ‘G’ Thang, Return of the Mack and Axel F all make utterly shameless appearances within the album's first two thirds. There are ways to handle samples, even well-known ones, creatively; Rotem, you sense, doesn't even try, merely letting a pre-existing hook do all the work.
Mann himself was born Dijon Sharif, which begs the question of why, with an awesome name like that, one would deliberately go under such a useless, forgettable stage name. His apparent drive to be indistinguishable carries over to his music; at best, he's a likeable beta male who'll never get the girl and is reduced to maudlin mopery about social media moments (Reminisce). At worst, he's a callow lad who'll never get the girl because lines like "That's why I love my female / She send me naked pics right to my email" (on Text) are not only gross but words she's heard a thousand times already.