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Okotoks rapper turns it up

Performing arts: Vick Mann boosting careers of Foothills artists
SA Freestyle Friday 0659
Rapper and mentor Vick Maan chills on stage between acts during Freestyle Friday at Tribal Connection Market on May 17. (Brent Calver/Western Wheel)

Stepping on stage is intimidating for any new artist, so an Okotoks rapper is offering an extra boost for many struggling to take that first step.

Vick Maan has taken on the role of mentor for several Foothills artists after spearheading the monthly Freestyle Friday at Tribal Connection Market last year.

Maan’s advice and mentorship not only encouraged several poets, rappers, musicians, dancers, singers and comedians to get on stage, it’s also prompted many to take the next steps to pursue a career out of what they love.

“I began guiding and coaching people and helping them gain some clarity as to what direction they wanted to go with their music,” he said. “I was dealing with people on all ends of the spectrum and helping them book gigs, helping them with their marketing, motivating them to continue to work on their music.”

Maan moved to Okotoks four years ago where he became a general sales manager and coached businesses and entrepreneurs. Among them was Tribal Connections Market, where he came up with the idea of hosting a freestyle event for local artists.

Maan soon became an unofficial mentor for poets, musicians, dancers and comedians. A lyricist who does freestyle rap and writes poetry, Maan understood their passion.

“I started writing poetry a long time ago - I’ve written over 200 songs but never really did anything with it,” he said. “It’s like therapy when you work with artists and musicians that are harnessing their craft. I’m helping to empower them to make the choices that are in line with their goals. They know the answers. I’m the one looking to remove the fog.”

Some never performed before and are now looking to grow their career. Freestyle Friday provides a comfortable place for people of all walks of life to perform.

“They have a home, it’s on that stage,” he said. “That platform is there for them. It’s theirs. It belongs to them.”

Maan received some mentorship of his own years ago by rapper/emcee Jami Sidhu.

“He shared his passion with me and it lit a passion in me I didn’t know I had,” he said. “To be honest, if Jami never shared his passion of hip hop with me there would be no Freestyle Friday.”

For Maan, helping others is an obligation.

“Those who have the capacity and the ability to help should put that as a priority in their life,” he said. “If I know that coaching this person, guiding them or offering my support will help them in any way shape or form, it’s like a no brainer.”

SAIT student Joey Hebb, of Okotoks, is getting his music out for the first time since receiving encouragement from Maan.

In addition to rapping at Freestyle Friday, 19-year-old Hebb is getting his music out on social media and is currently working on an album.

“If I didn’t have Vick, there is no way I would be this far along,” he said. “He’s helped me a lot. He’s the one who got me into SoundCloud.”

Hebb has a studio set up and uses a beat pad and monitor to create hip-hop and rap music.

“I have the whole set up,” he said.

Also benefitting from Maan’s mentorship is 15-year-old singer/songwriter Trinity Drake.

She met Maan while dining at Tribal Connection Market last spring and found herself on stage for the first time singing and playing solo at Freestyle Friday the following day.

“Vick has gotten me out there,” she said. “He gave me courage to actually go up on stage. He made the environment such a welcoming place. He made it like home.”

Drake said Maan introduced her to other musicians, many who have become good friends.

“I have created the connections that I think will last a long time and I’m able to sing with other people and jam with other people instead of being independent all the time,” she said. “He’s like, ‘This is a place you can come and be happy, be outgoing and be courageous and just be yourself.’”

Drake said her goal is to get into the music industry as far as she can, and Maan has helped pave the way.

“Vick is an incredible human being, he encourages everyone he meets,” she said. “He gives people the strength and the courage to be like, ‘I can do what I want to do.’ That’s just an amazing quality to have in a person.”