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OneDa’s signature lyric ‘Manny on the rise’ applies to the rapper herself too. She’s on the rise with high-vibration collaborations (Gabe Gurnsey, Mr Scruff) that combine catchy wordplay and gold-plated flow, all fired by an empowered philosophy that she shares in her regular Pussy Power talks. The music bumps and rolls, bringing pumped-up basslines, spare drums and grimey synths that provide the perfect landscape for her vocal vibe energy. Her tracks bring shades of Ruff Ryders, especially Eve, and especially if they’d teamed up with Burna Boy. There are shades of Lauryn Hill’s glow, and she’s channeling Ms Dynamite: an innovator – she informed a lot of UK MCs’.


For the last few years OneDa’s been running hip hop therapy sessions for east Manchester youth, working with Pupil Referral Units, Reform Radio and on the influential Herchester project for womxn, non-binary and transgender MCs in Manchester, Blackpool, Morcambe and Sheffield. “I wanna get bare number ones but my goal goal is to open a hip hop therapy school, from nursery age upwards.”


She knows why it matters. OneDa was born and raised in Hulme, Manchester, before moving to Gorton, in the east of the city. She grew up in a musical family that was also highly religious – her Nigerian parents ran their own church and the whole family sang in the choir. Young OneDa was reading music from the age of six, playing trumpet in a brass band, and rapped and sang in her own gospel group In Depth. Family life was musically rich but financially poor, and this made attending grammar school that was ‘full of posh kids’ complicated to say the least (spoiler: it didn’t work out).


It’s been a stop-start route to the big time. At 17, she entered the Urban Superstars rap competition and won. The prize was a studio, worth £7k. It wasn’t a good time in her life and she ended up selling the kit at Cash Generator. Family pressure meant going to university (Leeds, Multi-Media Technology) and she carried on making music on the side. In 2014 she released ‘My Riddim’ after her daughter was born, then ‘reclused again’. Later that year she hooked up with Manchester rapper Envy as Batz Inda Belfry and their Seaweed track got to Radio 1. Tinie Tempah was talking them up and they won City Life’s ‘Best Breakthrough Act’. They never released the follow-up. “We had a chance, and we blew it,” she says. “That messed us up.” OneDa, deflated, went off to do a Social Work MA. But the world moves in spirals, and this – along with a friend sending a video on the 12 Laws of the Universe – led her to hip hop therapy, and eventually, to making music again.


The story of how she connected with Mr Scruff, Gabe Gurnsey and Heavenly Recordings is full of coincidences and synchronicities. It begins when one of one of Nipsey Hussle’s crew contacted her asking for a DJ pack. She contacted Chini from Mouse Outfit – she was a regular on their tunes  – but he was busy. So Phil Kirby, who used to drum for them, stepped in. They sat together, seven hours a day, mixing tracks and Phil quietly sent a couple over to Mr Scruff, who’d been using Phil for decades to engineer his own tracks. Scruff loved the tracks and began sending OneDa instrumentals to spit on. “I write quick,” she says, “I’d send him back a demo in a couple of days,” and within a month they had five tracks. Phil also connected her with primo producer Gabe Gurnsey, who started sending her music and who produced the four phenomenal tracks now being released by Heavenly. Right now she’s on a writing roll, generating lyrics for days and bringing her livewire energy to performances across the UK. She’s also broadcasting regular Pussy Power talks and dabbling with fashion design, including her own range of glasses.


“I’m coming for hits now. I’m with Heavenly – even the name is right”

– written by Emma Warren –

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