Average read time: 5 minutes.
It takes about five whole seconds for Manolo Spanky (real name: Patrick Osagie) Nigeria’s ultimate hypeman, MC, fashionista, model & influencer, to mesmorise me as he recalls growing up in Surulere, Lagos, Nigeria. No wonder he’s made a career out of being a dazzling hypeman.
“Just growing up around people that just love life, even if we didn’t have too much, you know what I mean? Love life, love art, love music. I had the opportunity to grow up when the first wave of Afrobeat started”, he explains excitedly, barely stopping to catch his breath, “If you’re from where we’re from, you know where to get the hottest clothes, shoes and all that, so we always felt like we were ahead with everything. Obviously, apart from growing up in a military regime, it was a different time, but yeah, it was amazing. We came out strong,” Spanky affirms.
His energy is curiously magnetic, and I wonder what he was like in school. He laughs as the beautiful memories come flooding back. “So for me, high school was amazing. Every other week we had socials, and we had dancing competitions. I used to come out waxing hot, smashing everybody when I was dancing”, he recounts, adding, “I thought I was gonna be a dancer when I was young and I thought I was gonna be a rapper, I even put out an album.”
Spanky takes me back a good 11 years. After school, before university, to G12 Bar in Lagos, to when he held the mic for the first time, the moment he felt the hype calling his name. “I was going out for parties, linking up, just trying to be that kid, trying to be part of a movement, as long as it was entertainment”, he explains. And as the owner of the club, Gattuso, grabbed the mic and started hyping at the night’s event, Spanky abandoned dreams of becoming a rapper in favour of the hypeman-life.
“This shit is pure entertainment, getting people into a place and getting them hyped up, this is entertainment. It was hot! I loved it!”, he muses, “and then Gattuso passed the mic to me, and it was just for a short period of time, but I was like, ‘Boom! Boom! Boom!’, and ‘Wow!’, and ‘Yeah, this is the shit! I’m gonna do this!’”
At the time, hypemen were few and far between, but he singles out Ben Foster as his role model. “If there’s anyone in Nigeria who I look up to and respect, it’s him. He was there at the time and knew what to do — he was amazing”, he says, elaborating on where he learned the tricks of the trade.
In 2013, Spanky needed a change of scenery, relocating to Cape Town, where he spent 18 months. It was a time for introspection, rebranding, and inspiration on self-actualisation for him. “I had time to just relax and plan for today. I needed time to reflect on everything, take a break, and then how to come back stronger”.
Refreshed and recharged, he returned to Lagos to pick up and dust off the mic, resuming a career in hyping and MCing that he’d already done well to establish. I’m curious about when he began to feel like his hustle was truly paying off. “There have been so many ups and downs. I started hyping in 2009, and this is Spanky in 2021… I can tell you that I felt the biggest break of my career in 2018, 2019 and I’ve been doing this for 11 years”, he pauses thoughtfully. “Now I can wake up and say, ‘Yo, I’m gonna get booked tomorrow’, but I couldn’t do that 7 years ago. It takes time. I believe it’s consistency, a little bit of luck, fuck with the right people, loyalty is key, and try to find yourself that platform that can push you. That’s what I did when I came back from South Africa — I started hosting a show called Industry Nite”.
Manolo Spanky’s slow but steady rise has resulted in him becoming one of the biggest hypemen and MCs in Nigeria (nay, Africa!), going global and being booked everywhere from London to Dubai. He’s also established himself as a model, fashion icon, and influencer and, most recently, launched an online interview series called “Drip Talk”.
“Drip Talk” is a culmination of everything he’s ever done, a must-watch for the fashionistas, and another notch on the entertainer’s belt. He’s excited about his new venture, concluding, “so what we’re trying do is keep it MC, hypeman, me being stylish… I talk about fashion, show you where to get stuff, and get up close with some of your favourite celebrities. It’s all part of the brand”. ASA can’t wait to see where his hustle leads him next.