By Jalen Black
Hey Youth Radio listeners. I’m Jalen Black and I’m here to interview Bay Area musician, Armani Jackson, who goes by the performance name Mani Draper.
You can listen to his music and podcasts on Youtube, Spotify, and Apple Music. His podcast is named Meet The Brave. He has 5 albums, my personal favorite is The Last Marauder.
I’ll be interviewing him on his perspective of growing up in the Bay Area. Okay.
Jalen Black: What was different from growing up in the Bay Area compared to the rest of the world?
Armani Jackson: I’m not sure [about the rest of the world] per se but what I can say specifically is with both of my grandmother’s ties to the south, a difference between the South and Richmond, California was the infrastructure of ownership. I think I think the bay specifically is the birthplace and the hub for ownership, innovation and just ingenuity as a whole.
JB: How do you define the Bay Area culture and what does it mean to you?
AJ: I would define it as sort of a transient culture and not in a secular way or a bad way. There’s so many different people here. Our culture is a combination of the southern people that migrated from the Detroits and the Chicagos and ended up here. It sort of made a whole new way of being and whole new possibilities of being black. What you get is this real creative blend. you know just decided solidarity today today the perfect example leaving the street naming a huge he knew. as you know in our in our lifetime is different where you can you can pop up in any random City and the worst streets be named of the Martin Luther King Boulevard or Malcolm X way or you know, you know saying and so in present day in 2021 to see a street named after who EP and what that you know, what that what again what that represents going forward through, you know for myself for you for our youth as a whole going forth is just I think I think that that example alone speaks to the barrier culture of like what the possibilities are.
JB: How does being from the Bay Area inspire you to make music?
AJ: Being from the bay inspires me to make music in so many different ways, from our gospel scene to functioning R&B singing. There are so many legends and so many different genres and disciplines that are from the bay. It’s hard not to be influenced by [having] some of the most world-renowned Jazz musicians pop into your session at any given point. It kind of just sets the bar really high.
JB: What made you want to start a podcast?
AJ: What made me want to podcast was being funny. The questions are all about being from the bay. I do feel like our position is unique, right? And so we were considered a major market up until like last year. I think we’re number eight now, but we’ve always been considered a major market. However, whenever anybody talks about culture or anything that is sort of advancing these industries, the bay as a whole is often left out of those conversations, right? So if you want to get a rap career, if you want to be a singer, you go to LA or New York. I listened to [podcasters like] Joe Rogan, Marc God bless his soul, and Combat Jack who was one of the pioneers, and those shows have great stories, but it would never [have] any representation from the bay. And now, so many voices from the bay [are] popping up with shows to tell our story. It really is moving to see cause we have such a rich history. And if we don’t tell it, [people] will continue to leave us out of the conversation.
JB: Are there any topics that you usually discuss on your podcast and why?
AJ: Recurring topics, especially with the election, was how it was being covered.You know, not trying to demonize any particular party, not trying to demonize anyone’s particular affiliation to said party, but just highlighting. I thought that was very imperative in a discussion to have consistently through the lens of which I speak. Right? So a lot of linguistics is a real unique sort of concept of where so much can elude us based off of how it’s delivered. My co-host and I discuss it in a non-formal environment, discussing politics and highlighting the branding and the marketing side of it. So I was really glad that that was a recurring topic in conversation on the podcast.
JB: How do you think we can spread the Bay Area culture to the rest of the world?
AJ: I think it’s already happened. I think it’s been happening for a really long time. I’m so glad that you’re a part of Youth Radio because so many artists that I look up to even to this day came through Youth Radio, right? So just the basic tools to be able to create and imagine projects from start to finish,it’s just a great program. So I wholeheartedly believe [in] supporting entities like Youth Radio and giving them all the resources they need.
JB: Okay, last question. What message do you want to get across for people or kids that are from here?
AJ: I think the message that I would hope that is landing whenever I’m in a room or my art reaches anyone, especially the youth, is that I got your back no matter what. I’m not going to always know what you’re going through, but I do want to make sure that y’all know that you have support and that we’re here and we’re not chastising you. It ain’t no pull your pants up — none of that. I really want to understand what it is y’all dealing with and where you’re coming from as a means to the better support and provide the resources.
JB: Thank you for being a part of this and thank you Youth Radio for listening.
AJ: Yes sir. Thank you for having me Jay.