Manu Crook$ proves he’s an international ambassador for Australian hip hop with ‘Different League’
In 2017, MANU CROOK$ comprehensively placed himself within a different league to his Australian contemporaries with his debut EP, mood forever. This explosion of the local scene was not lost on international audiences, with support slots for STORMZY and a co-sign from A$AP FERG following in turn – hardly surprising for an artist whose music pulls together the disparate, antipodean influences of Atlanta trap, Australian hip-hop and Manu’s own Ghanian heritage. Now, news has arrived that Manu has inked a deal with Primary Talent for live appearances across the UK and Europe, further solidifying his blossoming international reputation.
Accompanying the news, is the just-unleashed visuals for ‘Different League’, Manu’s first material for 2018. Shot in Paris during his first-ever European tour earlier this year, the clip shares the sense of international ambition that Manu is looking increasingly comfortable with as he moves into this new phase of his career. Directed by French directors Aden Gauthier, Berko & Titan, and Hitsu Film, with additional footage being shot in Sydney by Julian Machuca (who also shot the visuals for ‘Ridin’ and ‘Assumptions’) and Tom Fletcher, the video paints a stark atmosphere that mixes the real with the surreal in a monochromatic palette. Drawing together Sydney and Paris, this real and surreal take representing the parallels that the directors are trading off between the visuals and Manu’s current standing are impossible to miss.
The visuals introduce this pomp and grandiosity by opening with filmic credits, listing the clip’s various collaborators as Manu strolls into a classically Parisian amphitheatre. “At the other end of the world, we find ourselves in a class apart,” a title-card flashes. From there, dark, imposing clouds loom over Manu as he performs, while the greyscale colour theme embodies the sparse, nocturnally menacing production work on the track. Throughout the clip, static-drenched, lo-fi home recordings juxtapose against complex visual trickery and editing that feels reminiscent of PLAYBOI CARTI’S ‘Magnolia’ video. The camera-work here is dynamic, fluidly zooming in and out, constantly tilting and finding new angles to explore, speeding up and slowing down at unpredictable junctures, moving almost as if it’s an extension of Manu’s restless flows.
“Now I’m overseas and the vision is so clear,” Manu boasts on the track. He’s right – the ‘Different League’ video makes that clear. And as far as international ambassadors for Australia’s newly-revitalised hip-hop scene go, we couldn’t ask for anyone better than Manu Crook$.