MaMan is from the Khartoum region of Sudan; he says, “I am from Sudan where it loves us, but its children flee for help.” According to him, living in Sudan is slow and calm; you have to hustle to cover your basic needs.
MaMan got a degree in multimedia, and at first, his interests made him take up acting and cinematic editing, but with time he realized his true passion for music, and he pursued a career in it.
music has always been a form of expression for MaMan. Ever since he was a kid, he felt like he had a lot to say, so he made his music a vessel for the message he ought to deliver. He started rapping at the age of 16; when he realized his music passion, he began DJing. He also met Tamer RoTation Siddig in the first year of his university.
Later he collaborated with him to release a track. In 2016, Mahdi released his debut EP, “Eyes of a Gemini,” which comprised a total of 4 tracks, Trouble (feat. Aaamouai), Two Steps, Mariam (feat. RoTation), and Burn Alone Interlude. The idea behind the album is that Mahdi sees himself as a person who has two different personalities. So, the album is an insight into his brain the confession between his two characters.
Being a Sudanese Artist
According to MaMan, being a musical artist in Sudan is difficult because some genres are more welcomed than others, so achieving success becomes a tough road since you have to tick certain culturally appropriate boxes. He was brought up on the best music Sudan offered, or as he calls it, “Golden Bag” because the songs were by the talented musicians of the 70s.
His parents introduced Mahdi to a wide range of genres of music. He said his parents made him listen to everyone they were influenced by. They introduced
him to prominent names like Aretha Franklin, Fela Kuti, Michael Jackson, BB King, and a Chinese composer Keitaro. A song that made him happy was “ No Woman No Cry” by Bob Marley that his mother used to sing to him. They introduced him to such amazing music at a young age, so he concluded that hip hop is his genre after listening to various genres.
The first-ever album he owned was also a gift by his father. It was Bob Marley’s, Kaya. The first cassette he bought was Rap City; it included hot singles of old school rappers’ time and raps.
MaMan met RoTation in his first year of university, and he introduced him to Nuslang sound engineer and producer Saji Ali. Mahdi was a part of Nuslang that was previously named “New Slang.” He left the group when he went to Brighton; when he returned to Khartoum, he met TooDope, and after a while, he created a new music group called “Young JustUs.”
He mentored MaMan and also taught him the skills he needed. MaMan’s first EP was released in 2016, and Abraham Moughrabi produced it and mixed it. Abraham, also known as Abe, is a close friend of Mahdi, and he coined his stage name, MaMan.
Abe also taught MaMan the engineering techniques that he used for “Eyes of a Gemini.” When he returned to Khartoum from Brighton, his friend Saji called him and told him how he could collaborate with an artist from Doha, Qatar. MaMan recorded with Eltayab “Too Dope” Hajo the next day, their energies matched, and that is how “Too Dope-Alright (feat. MaMan)” was made. The song was a hit and had a total of 2.4 million views.
In 2018 MaMan released LP 1991. It had a hit single, “Grow Fast,” which was inspired by the love and the suffering of his generation and how everyone struggles to find a place for themselves in this current socioeconomic and political scenarios.
MaMan did not stop there and continued growing up on the ladder of success and released his debut album “Shammasi” in 2019. This album was very personal to him and explored the themes of depression, fear, isolation, and hope and how that is a feeling of revolution. This album is a tri-sided lens and helps us view what we have achieved, what we can achieve, and what we will achieve. He says this album helped him connect with his fans like never before.
The people MaMan looked up to keep changing through the different phases in his life. In adolescence, he desired to hustle, so he liked the singers who fuelled his rebellion, like Wu-Tang Clan, Ice Cube, 2 Pac, and DMX. But with time, he realized that this thug, a day-to-day hustler is not him, so the singers he looked up to in that time were J. Cole, Nas, Immortal Technique Kendrick Lamar. He looked up to anyone who touched his soul.
Mahdi thinks music can be a force of change in society. He thinks art is the greatest form of self-expression, and it can serve as a weapon against inequality, racism, and even conflict. music is the strongest form of art; according to him, it can help change since its universal and is heard everywhere.
MaMan says that you do not need to understand the musician as long as you get the idea he is trying to get across through his music. For Mahdi, a musical eye-opener that affected him was when he fell in love with his own words, and they made sense to him. But on a wider note, he said he saw rappers getting shot or prosecuted for getting across a brave message and how hip-hop is climbing the charts to become the most listened to genre.
MaMan said that he loves Bob Marley’s work because he continues his movement to aware people through his music, and if he was ever given a chance to perform with someone living or dead, he would love to perform with Bob Morley. He says performing is a big thing just attending his concert and seeing him perform live would mean the world to him.