Manafest AKA Chris Greenwood has been rocking and rapping since 2000 after an accident robbed him of his one true love, skateboarding. Now, he’s set to release his eighth album, Reborn, the first one he owns independently. Working with producers Seth Mosley (Newsboys, Audio Adrenaline, Sanctus Real) and Joel Bruyere (Thousand Foot Krutch), Manafest’s latest also boasts the vocal talents of Thousand Foot Krutch’s Trevor McNevan (“Shine”), ex-FF5 vocalist Soul Glow Activatur (“Stick To Your Gunz”), and rappers Tedashii and Shonlock (“I Have A Dream”). I caught up with the Canadian musician during a trip to California to ask him about making beats and hearing his music on the television.
“Skateboarding helped me get through high school,” Greenwood remembered. “But when I got hurt, I started messing around and, by 2004, this was what I was doing full time. It’s taken me all over the world.”
I asked the rapper what made him change up the style of so many songs on Reborn, admitting that when I first started listening, the country-inflected guitar on the title track caught me off guard. Chuckling, Greenwood admitted, “I’m pretty ADD when it comes to music, and I’m always looking to try new things. I know there are albums you get that you think, ‘man, I want to hear more of that same thing,’ but a lot of the time, you go, ‘hey man, why don’t you try to change things up, go with a different producer or something?'”
After twelve years of marriage and laying down lyrics over beats he helped create, Greenwood has a new role: daddy. Greenwood, whose own father committed suicide thirty-two years ago, said he has a good relationship with his mother, but the lyrics to “Fearless” highlight that his father will never see his granddaughter grow up. Greenwood’s own experience of transforming faith drives him to want to make sure that others hear messages that are positive and steer them the right way.
“I think we all have a debt to love,” he said. “That’s the only thing I want to be in debt to. So I think it’s my responsibility to share what I know with others, especially kids, because I suffered from a lack of knowledge.”
“Parenthood has changed everything. Now, I look at things generationally, not just the five or ten year plan, but what are we leaving for my daughter? I mean,” he started to chuckle, “I’ve already sung about her three times in the new album!”
We reminisced about different albums along the way, from Citizen Activ to The Moment, with brash lyrics and sometimes bombastic proclamations, and I asked Greenwood what his daughter would think about his music as she grew up. “I rap about what I’m going through at the time,” he said. “If I looked back at it all, I’d see glimpses of what I was writing about and reflecting on, where I recorded. It’s kind of cool to have a snapshot, a journal diary of what was going on, isn’t it?”
Manafest will be on tour throughout the United States and Canada, with a stopover in Japan. While Greenwood admitted that it has become commonplace to hear himself on the radio, it is still surreal to flip past CSI: Miami or Grimm and hear himself on television. We segued from television to film, and I asked him the standard, “Who would play you in a film about your life?”
“Tom Cruise,” Greenwood said quickly, before laughing. “No, some young kid, I’m sure.”
But if he could make a movie, any movie?
“I’d love to do an underdog story, not rag to riches or anything, but maybe about a fighter, about losing your dad. ‘A fighter isn’t someone who never fails, a fighter is someone who never quits,” he said, lapsing into the one of my favorite quotes from The Moment.
It’s a reminder that Manafest is on his way, but he’s still standing in the ring, throwing punches, taking hits. He’ll share the good news of Jesus Christ, do his best to raise a family, and in the end, leave it all out there. No matter what, it’s clear he’s a fighter.
A fighter who never quits.