Blake Mankin is a man of firsts. He was the first baby born in his hospital on the first day of the new year. The rapper from Scottsdale, Ariz. may just have been born to be No. 1.
Mankin has been rapping since he was 12 years old and has seen success with his video, “Wendy’s Drive Thru Rap,” which was featured on NBC’s “Today Show” and has over 800,000 views on YouTube.
Recently, Mr. B and some members of his crew sat down with staff writer Nick Yacovazzi to talk about Mankin’s career as an artist and his plans for the future in our first entry of our weekly column reporting on artists at Belmont.
What first got you into music, primarily hip-hop?
Mr. B: “Just growing up listening to rap music. I wrote my first rap in fifth grade, and I believe that style of music is such a big part of our generation. I really liked listening to Biggie, but I didn’t really get into rap until later. I picked it up in eighth grade. That’s when I really started to develop my own taste of music.”
“In the beginning, I started free-styling and it helped me write my own stuff. I stuck with it for years. I actually like free-styling more. It’s like rapping a stream of consciousness, and you can let it go to whatever you want. To me, writing is the craft and professional side of it.”
What has been the biggest highlight of your career as an artist so far?
Mr. B: “Well, the thing is, it’s not anything the world has seen yet, and it’s the team. It’s not something I’ve physically released or a show I’ve done or a song I’ve recorded, but it’s the people I am around. It makes me excited to make music and share this experience with people that are meaningful.”
“I can never reach the dreams I have by myself. It’s a team effort, and it’s so much more fun to collaborate. I think that’s how we were supposed to be. We were created to build relationships with one another and relate on a deeper level.”
“This really sticks in my head. One time, spur of the moment, I met these two guys on campus, and the next thing I knew, we ended up writing a song. I was inspired to team up and do more projects with multiple people!
If you could perform with any artist, who would it be?
Logan Downs (Band Member): “It would be Snoop, Snoop Dogg hands down. Max, who would you want to play with?”
Max Hines (Band Member): “Phish, man. I definitely would love to play with them.”
Mr. B: “This may be out of left field, but I would love to play with Ludacris. The dude is out of control, and he’s the first rapper I’ve ever met. The first time I stepped into the studio he was there, and I just remember that being such a major impact on my life and career. He’s just a guy who brings a lot of positivity and life to everything he does.”
You went on tour with DMX, what was that like?
Mr. B: “Man, a tour feels like a season of life. A lot of my school days mesh together during the year, but that tour I remember vividly each and every day, which is incredible.”
“I can remember that tour so well because one of the first memories that come to mind are the DMX and Bone Thugs n’ Harmony tours, and it’s because I was in my element. I wasn’t scared, but I felt something, and what I was feeling was an emotion that I could only feel by being where I was meant to be. It was excitingly scary, a healthy stress and a healthy nervousness. I was doing what I was created to do.“
“DMX, though, was an experience all by itself. He was like a light switch; he’s the life of the party at one moment and super tense the next.”
“One major downer from the tour is I got all my gear stolen. My laptop, my GoPro camera, my credit cards and my ID were all stolen. I couldn’t have even left the state if I wanted to. I had nothing, and I couldn’t board a Greyhound bus out of Texas. It was all so stressful and another reason why that tour sticks so vividly in my head”
You’re in an elite group who has eaten ice cream with President Bob Fisher, how was it filming the promo video for your mix tape?
Mr. B: “Dr. Fisher is an awesome guy, he’s got a great personality, and it was a lot of fun. You’d be surprised what you can accomplish if you just ask. He agreed to do our video for “Ice Cream 4 Breakfast” within 15 seconds of me pitching it to him.”
“It’s actually a crazy story how this happened. There were 45 freshmen and their parents about to go on a tour near his office, and I came in with the mindset about asking him to eat ice cream with me for the promo video for my new mixtape, “Ice Cream 4 Breakfast.” I went up to him and he told the parents about my video for “Wendy’s Drive Thru,” and I spoke to them about Belmont. Afterwards I told him about my video idea and he was on board.”
Where do you draw your influences, lyrically and instrumentally?
Mr. B: “A lot of it comes from conversations with people, the ones I have or I hear. It all influences me. I also love country lyrics. They’re about telling a story. It all comes from consistently writing. For me, it’s about sitting down and just writing, and when I do it’s like a faucet for inspiration. I write before I even start my day. I wake up, eat something and just sit down and write. I also love Midnight to 3am.”
Do you have any big plans for the future? Is there anything you would like to accomplish?
Mr. B: “Currently, I’m developing an app, but my major project is I’ve been working on ways to teach the world how to rap. I found that passion this summer, and I’ve been trying to encourage that this summer. I believe people can access the rhythm inside them. People can channel that rhythm and put it towards creating rap music. I think it would also help people’s communication skills because I really believe it’s learnable and teachable.”
Check out Mr. B’s latest album, ”Ice Cream 4 Breakfast, ” and follow him on social media.
This article is part of a bi-weekly series written by A&E reporter Nick Yacovazzi