To many, Black Josh is one of the most artistic acts operating in the Manchester scene – very much deserving of the cult hero status that follows him. Bringing the heat with his latest album ‘Mannyfornia’, Josh delivers a 16-song body of work with the rawness we’ve come to expect, and the thoughtful curation of an individual with a vision. Forming his rap crew APE CULT at 17, Manchester and beyond paid attention to his movement, classic performances and collaborations – the momentum has continued from day one. It’s clear Josh takes his approach and direction differently to some of those operating in similar lanes, his commitment to the art and integrity, keeping his loyal fanbase wanting more.
Being from the North West myself, I became familiar of Black Josh a few years ago through word of mouth. Now, a name that crops up in a lot of music conversations. Back in the day my friends and I would sit and watch his music videos on a playlist loop, my Man United friends getting gassed he’s rocking classic United shirts in a video. Fans will always bring his name to the table when it comes to music recommendations, more often than not when somebody attempts to tell them they know all about the northern scene.
‘Mannyfornia’ is an unapologetically Manchester narration of normal life, a tape cover to cover with the charm and conviction of a northerner. Throughout the project, we note the enlistment of some household names, from the old and new generation – those being [ K S R], Sleazy F Baby, Meme Gold, Lunar C, Lord Apex, OT Babyface, Mennis, Abeni and a personal favourite of mine… Coops. A standout for me on this tape is ‘Smoke’ with Meme Gold, a warming R&B hook on top of a relaxing lo-fi beat made colourful with the bell sounding synths layering the driving kit. Then ‘Therapy’ has to be another that’s up there, a track displaying Josh’s ability to flow, phrase to phrase linking into one another with slick transitions. All in all, the ‘Mannyfornia’ demonstrates a different kind of formula, slightly chaotic and grungy yet masterful and progressive – a definite recommendation.