Vermont born and LA based rapper Manus‘s latest rap is a tribute to his friend and notable Burlington, VT public figure, Andy Williams. Known to most as A-Dog, Andy helped foster the arts community in Burlington and was a gifted turntablist and skateboarder. At age 38, he sadly passed away in 2013 after a battle with Acute Myloid Leukemia.
Beloved by the community, his spirit has been celebrated at a yearly festival titled “A-Dog Day”, held on the last Saturday of August (near Williams’s birthday). The Friends for A-Dog Foundation puts on this fest to honor their friend’s memory, and help others learn about bone marrow donation as well as encourage “the creation of art, music and skateboard culture through the sponsorship of scholarships, grants, and day camps for talented youth with financial need.”
I spoke to Manus about A-Dog and the process of grieving his friend’s passing. I am so happy to premiere “DI4U” at Saint Audio, and honored to continue sharing the legacy of a such a special friend and artist.
Hey Manus! Your tribute to your friend Andy “A-Dog” Williams is really moving. I know how tough it is to lose a friend, and that the feeling of loss never really goes away. Did the process of creating this song help you in the healing process? If so, how?
When Andy passed away, I couldn’t believe it. I remember thinking, “If anybody in the world is gonna make it through this, it’s him.” He was literally the greatest human I had ever met in my life, no offense to anyone. Creating this song absolutely helped me deal with losing my brother. I didn’t get to see him as much as I would have liked as he was battling leukemia, so putting the vibe in the air with the tune was a way to letting him know how much I care for him, and what he represents to a lot of people who were close with him.
What’s your favorite memory that you shared with Andy?
I met Andy for the first time in 8th grade. I remember going to the Bside on Cherry Street to buy my first skateboard—he was working there at the time and helped me select all the components you need to build a complete deck. My homies all skated at that point and I was like, “this is cool.” I skateboarded from high school through my early 20s—I was never good at all. It wasn’t till I had begun to really pursue my love for creating music and rapping that Andy and I would actually become friends. At that point I had grown to really look up to him, because he was both a genuinely amazing person and a legendary figure in the skateboarding and music scene in Burlington, Vermont [Manus and Andy’s hometown].
When I was in 9th grade, my friends and I all went to Middlebury, Vermont for a skate contest which A-Dog had been DJing as well as competing in, and he fucking won his run which was incredible to me! It was fucking litty, as they say nowadays.
I also remember opening up for the Black Eyed Peas with him—the group he was in at the time asked me and another friend of ours to feature in their set! It was such an epic moment for me to be 18 years old on stage with my friends like that at Higher Ground, a pretty staple venue in Burlington area, back when it was located in Winooski.
Learn more about A-Dog Day and bone marrow donation at The Friends For A-Dog Foundation’s website.