Kareem Manuel and Decipha play by their own rules.
Typically when music artists release projects, they carry out lengthy, calculated marketing campaigns to build suspense. This includes, but isn’t limited to releasing singles, videos and a track listing. Rather than suspense, Manuel and Decipha’s CTZN Collective will release five EPs over the next five months, the first coming on Good Friday.
“It may be a stupid idea,” Manuel told Wade-O Radio’s David Daniels. “It may be so dumb. The theory is, you’re not going to give anybody a chance to connect to the music … Our thing is, we’ve got this music that, if nothing else, has been a blessing to our lives … we just want it to be able to do that for other people.”
Manuel is a pastor at Legacy Fellowship Church in Chicago and media & marketing manager for the Citizen Consulting Group. Decipha works for the Children’s Hunger Fund. They managed to balance their day jobs and family with music by setting aside Thursday night to write and record.
CTZN started recording songs about a year ago. After it racked up an estimated 60 tracks, it realized themes had begun to emerge. These themes were focused enough, and were made up of strong content, that Manuel and Decipha decided to do the unheard of.
In releasing five EPs, their goal is to garner enough support to tour, sharing their testimonies along the way. Each project will be available for free download, but fans can support Manuel and Decipha through their website livenarrow.com.
The first EP, which they’ll release on Friday, April 18, is titled Christus Resurrectus, Latin for Christ resurrected. Swoope of Collision Records is credited with most of its production. CTZN dropped its first single off the project, “Funeral,” earlier this month.
In June, Decipha and Manuel will travel to JahRockn Studios in New York City to record an album which will follow their quintet of EPs.
“And then hopefully the album comes out sometime in September or October, and we take over the world,” said Manuel.
CTZN was previously known as a trio which included fellow Chicago hip-hop artist Caine, but he’s no longer with the group.
“Caine is a brother in Christ … we are boys, but he is growing in his marriage. He has a new baby. We felt it best for him to focus on that than to grow more as an independent artist,” said Decipha.