“Once I make it to where I can come back and start helping, I want to give kids my age an opportunity they may not have.” -- Mille Manny. (Photos: Demarcus Bowser)

Mille Manny – cause getting to a million of course! – is a 17-year old rising star creating his own hybrid sound, which he calls “hip pop.” While he may put you in mind of Chris Brown, he’s seventeen-seventeen not a Chris Brown 17.

TSD #Access901 columnist Joy Doss. (Photo: Demarcus Bowser)

His “Dadager” Ernest Strickland (what’s the opposite of “momager???”) is NOT going for any wildin’ in these streets, mannish shenanigans, foul-mouthed lyrics or any such similar foolishness. His current single, “Mind Games,” is radio ready and kid friendly with stellar production quality from Memphis Trackboy and smooth vocals that easily rival any of the other youngers in the game.

When you see Manny, you may expect Cali sound. Though he spent a few years there, be clear that he is a Memphian all day! He is ready and willing to be one more artist that puts Memphis on the map. He recognizes that he has been provided with a lot of opportunities so as he levels up in the game, he will be ready to reach back and reach across.

By now it’s common knowledge that Memphis has racks on racks of talent but lack the opportunities and access to go higher and further.

“Once I make it to where I can come back and start helping, I want to give kids my age an opportunity they may not have,” said Manny. “Whether it’s a recording studio….kids having a place to do homework…[or creating] a family-oriented environment.”

He also, correctly, points out that people always expect kids to wait until they’re older to pursue dreams but assures young people, “The time is now. Wait for nobody. You don’t have to hold off (on pursuing your dreams.)”

Manny has a big vision for himself which includes cresting the top of the music charts and elevating his brand, Slick Cocky, to Rocawear levels. He is already networking across having collaborated with 17-year old video director Cameron Boyd (K.W.A.D. Films – Kid With A Dream) on “Mind Games” and making special appearances on songs with BlocBoy JB, Lil Migo and Fresco Trey.

Memphis artists like Yo Gotti, Moneybagg Yo, Kevo Muney and Blac Youngsta top his collab wishlist. Reaching beyond our berg, he would like to work with H.E.R, Drake (obviously!), Chris Brown, DJ Khaled.

(JD Note: I personally would like to hear a H.E.R. duet. Putting that in the universe for you Manny!)

But first things first – the business. As his dad Ernest says, “If you don’t have the business side, it’s pretty much just a hobby. He handles the music. I handle the business.”

He ensures that Manny is informed and engaged throughout every step of the process. He says they even go through practicum exercises so that Manny is prepared for various situations.

With the guidance and backing of dad, Manny has been able to secure distribution through United Masters, which is one of Steve Stoute’s companies.  If you know the music industry, you know that Steve Stoute is a major player. One small step for Manny and a giant leap for Memphians!

Perhaps more importantly, Dad keeps a close eye and tight rein to ensure that he stays, “steeped in his core values.” Again, good on ya! There are so many ways that the game can send kids hard left.

One of those values is keeping it clean. We are inundated with song after that song that, while they may SLAP, are not quite appropriate for younger ears. Even the radio versions! As I mentioned earlier, Manny’s lyrics are kid friendly. You won’t find any cuss words, N words or less than flattering synonyms for girls and women in his lyrics.

“With my music, I make you like it. You don’t even know you’re missing  the cuss words. I’m able to go through more doors [because of it].” Yep. And this mom of a middle schooler approves!

So what’s next?

On the business side, Manny is working on securing airtime on Memphis radio stations. While he has gotten some solid traction on social media and YouTube and some success with Internet radio, the goal is to create a solid foundation here in Memphis, prioritizing our audience base.

On the music side, look for the first single off of his 6-Song EP “Ride My Wave” dropping on June 11.

“I feel like it’s something no one’s heard before. I’m just excited and ready for y’all to hear it.”

The single “All in” will be available on all music platforms.

(Check out Mind Games here: https://youtu.be/ce-pI1_LRWw. Follow Manny on Instagram: @millemanny_)