Brandishing a unique brand of East Coast street rap, New Jersey’s Heir Gang in just a few years has arguably put out one of the best discographies of any modern rap collective. Combing street bars over minimalistic East Coast production the collective caught buzz alongside New York’s Beast Coast movement in the early 2010s. Though RetcH and Da$h have grabbed the majority of the groups spotlight, co-founder Man-Z has been steadily carving out a lane for himself just beyond them.
In contrast with the other H’z Global artists, Mugga’s public profile is very limited. As a result the majority of content featuring him, be it short interview clips or freestyles, is contained to Heir Gang’s Youtube channel. In the first of his series of vlog videos on the Heir Gang Youtube channel, Man-Z can be seen kickin’ an acapella freestyle while rockin’ a dope Dipset hat. Hardly surprising, given the similarities between him and The Diplomats’ Juelz Santana. While overlaps in content go without saying, Mugga’s charisma and sense of humor in many ways parallel the New York vet. “You ain’t gettin nowhere with them Knicks like Melo” he raps on a cut from his debut tape, a bar made all the sweeter by Anthony’s trade to OKC last year.
Man-Z grew up with founding H’z members RetcH and Da$h in Hackensack, NJ (the trio can be seen freestyling together as far back as 2007) and started rapping alongside them. Originally going by the name Manny Mugga he released several freestyles and singles, though he later changed his name to Man-Z some time in 2011. Sparsely dropping loose tracks and features here and there over the next several years he released the single “Melo” in June 2014 before confirming an upcoming debut mixtape.
The tape, titled 16s & 32s, dropped in March 2015. Da$h lent a verse to the project as did Yonkers native $Ha Hef, who linked up with the then-newly minted Heir Gang in 2012. Despite generating little buzz outside of local and fan circles, flagship underground hip-hop magazine Insomniac featured the tape on its website, drawing attention from the community at large to his talents. The project is a loose narrative of gang violence, drug dealing, and the harsh realities of street life. Man-Z experiments with a variety of styles through the mixtape, ranging from Jahlil Beats-influenced bangers to self-reflective cuts like “Lost Pain”.
On “Help Me” he explores his relationship with money, somberly rapping “It ain’t shit but if you broke money glow/ Help me yo, help me yo” over a minimalistic Tahil Brown beat. Not every style suits him–Mugga shines while spitting tales from the streets, and cuts like “Its Whateva” stand out as shallow and base compared to the rest of the project. “Smile on My Face“, the sole collaboration track with $Ha Hef, is Man-Z’s finest display. Beginning with a pointed vocal sample about being rich from the film Boiler Room before transitioning into a violin-centered boom bap instrumental, the pair detail the different aspects of money in the street, from slinging drugs in order to get it to spending it on temporary luxuries.
Shoulda Gave Them To Me, the rapper’s sophomore tape, dropped Spring 2016. Featuring another collab with $Ha Hef, the mixtape was taken down from Man-Z’s Soundcloud page some time last year and appears to be scrubbed from the web. The tapes four singles still remain uploaded, indicating perhaps that the project will once again be accessible in the future. A 3-song EP titled Deadbolt dropped several months later.
While the rapper’s output since Deadbolt has been stifled (in part due stint in jail in the second half of 2016), his recent activity is highly encouraging. His new tape Ki’$ Open Doors is dropping April 6th, supported by the singles “Have Not” and “Run It Up” over the last few months. Coming off the LooseSkrew tour with Da$h, Muggah seems focused and hungry for success. 16s & 32s showed that Man-Z can brings bars over any type of production, and his movements over the last few months indicate that the tape should be a success.