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Chicago emcee Lamon Manuel and Houston producer Analog(ue) Tape Dispenser present the Samantha Wakefield-directed music video for “S–t. Everything We Have Together Is Falling Apart”. Manuel is a member of Chicago collective Tomorrow Kings (Bandcamp). Lamon describes the new single as “a song about watching everything that matters most fall apart and not being sure what to try to save first, wondering if anything is worth saving or if there’s any hope in trying. I had no definitive answers on that when I was writing the song. I don’t really have any now. The woman I thought I’d spend the rest of my life with left me and I just wanted to feel nothing most of the time. I spent a lot of time drinking too much, getting sad literature tattoos and wandering back and forth between the north and south side of Chicago, thinking about the time I had lost investing myself in caring for someone else and now having to figure out who I was and what I wanted without her, if I wanted anything at all. I didn’t have many songs to listen to to probably score what I was experiencing so I ended up writing some. And all of this happened while I was being Black.”

What do you think is the most misunderstood thing about you as an artist?

I think the most misunderstood thing about me as an artist is also the most misunderstood thing about me as a person. People think I hate everything. Which I don’t. I just have complicated push and pull relationships with many things and I occasionally enjoy being playfully contrarian. So I guess that might give people the wrong idea.

What’s the Chicago hiphop scene like these days?

The Chicago scene is…a lot of things. There are some really amazing artists around the city right now, as always, and there’s a lot of international attention coming our way, which is awesome. But it can be a difficult place if you, your look or your music don’t fit into an obvious category or if you don’t have at least one person in your crew who’s local blog darling. The city itself is pretty diverse and fans are open to a lot of different styles but according to the most popular blogs the only things that exist here are slight variations in trap music.

Who were your biggest musical influences and in what way?

Atmosphere definitely made it cool to rap about love again. My album is largely about putting my life together after a breakup and I don’t think I would’ve had the courage to make a project like that without them. Cannibal Ox’s The Cold Vein may have been the first album I heard after I got serious about writing that was made by people who came from a background similar to me and my friends. We still listen to and discuss that album a lot. It meant a lot to hear two Black men rapping like that and getting love for it when I was 19. My contemporaries, my brothers in Tomorrow Kings, Elucid, Billy Woods, Defcee, Metasota, Milo, The Karma Kids, Boogie Boy Metal Mouth. Hearing their music, doing shows with them and working on music with them has kept me sharp.

What’s your favorite non-rap album of all time and why?

That’s a hard one. Pretty sure it’s a Radiohead album but it might change depending on the day you ask and mood. Today I’m going with OK Computer. It’s dark and intense and angry and also has these hopeful moments. It’s a full experience to listen to that album. I think there’s often more freedom in songwriting outside of rap, not as much pressure for the songs to have an obvious, undisputed meaning. I envy the idea of being able to create without that kind of pressure.

Tell us about your next project.

My current project, Music To Feel Like Shit To, is coming out soon so I’m trying not to think too far ahead but I’ve written a couple of songs for whatever’s next after that. There’s one called “James Deen” that I really, really love performing. My live show gets kind of intense and for that one I repeatedly punch myself in the jaw during the chorus. It freaks people out but they also enjoy it. I guess I’m interested in writing new songs that push me to commit in ways I haven’t tried yet. Whether it be in the performance, in the form, or both. That song also has kind of a country-influenced chorus. ATD and I have talked about him producing the next project too. And I’m always excited to work with him.

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