John Manselle-Young, a Hartford hip-hop artist known as Tang Sauce, has transitioned into “Seniority” — the title of his new project set to debut Aug. 11 at Hartbeat Ensemble’s Carriage House Theater.
His new one-man musical, says the 26-year-old rapper, marks a revival of the multifaceted persona that everyone knows as Tang:
“...Times are changing, I am upgrading. This is a new iteration of Tang Sauce, an evolution that will continue to evolve.”
His first 17-track project, titled “Maturity,” chronicled the Hartford rapper’s four-year journey into adulthood. Conversely, “Seniority” is more about “capturing a moment than a musical album,” he says.
“...It’s different because it’s only three tracks. That would make it, or some people might call it, an EP. I don’t really have a name for it but it comes alongside this musical, too, so is it more of an album or an idea?”
“Seniority,” he says, is more or less the result of experimentation and a willingness to create outside of the box.
“I wouldn’t describe myself as a playwright. I’m just a man who wrote a play,” Tang says. “I like to experiment, have fun artistically and see what comes out of it.”
Tang’s first foray into play writing — a 25-minute, one-man show of three songs — is synchronized to dialogue with a character he likes to call Uncle Charles, a personification of multiple figures and experiences from his youth.
“He’s just the average uncle at a cookout; he’s like my Uncle Mickey. He’s like every cat in Sigourney Park and at Monday-night jazz. He’s a character I love. I admire his freeness and that willingness to be himself.”
The play is set in the year 2045, Tang says, “so it could be me in the future.”
The shortness of the show was a result of monetary, time and energy constraints, but fits into Tang’s philosophy of keeping his audience engaged.
“Honestly, I feel like in this day in age who really needs more than three [songs]? Because, of course, you could have a lot but the attention span is getting shorter and shorter.”
“…When I’m on Instagram and I see a new artist I think I better like this in the first 15 seconds or I might not keep listening...”
With that in mind, Tang is looking to capture his audience within the first seconds of each song and leave them with a lasting impression.
“So with that psychology of the day, plus with the immediate gratification thing, three [songs] is a hit,” he says. “People move quick, especially a lot of the people that I think will be listening to this project.”
For the opening song, the title of which will be revealed at the Aug. 11 show, Tang transforms into Uncle Charles, when the script and lyrics merge.
“I did a play because I always want to add value to what I’m doing. It’s easy — well it’s not easy, to drop a musical album— but I wanted to take it one step further.”
At the opening performance, Tang will be passing out CDs of the songs. Uncle Charles will return for more shows if the demand is there, Tang says.
A longtime Hartford resident, Tang, who had his start as a b-boy, loves his city and says showcasing his second project at the Farmington Avenue theater was a no-brainer.
“Hartbeat is definitely a gem in Hartford,” Tang says. “And for me when I see something like that, a gem, I want to help it shine especially if I have the wherewithal to do it. So this is my wherewithal.”
TANG SAUCE performs his musical “Seniority” at 5 p.m. Aug. 11 at Hartbeat Ensemble, 360 Farmington Ave., Hartford. Admission is free. You can listen to Tang’s album “Seniority” on Soundcloud Aug. 11.