Photo: Revolt Media
  /  03.01.2022

Eugene “ManMan” Roberts’ skill set is diverse enough to bless Saweetie with some throwback swag for “Saturday Night Live,” mix John Legend songs with Afrobeats, and adapt when Kanye West wants more from him on the “Glow in the Dark Tour.”

“When I accepted the gig I flew out to L.A., and I thought I just had to do my two or three songs. Halfway through rehearsal, Ye starts adding more songs. He was like, ‘You play vocoder. Why don’t you play on the hooks?’ The next thing I know, I’m playing on every hook,” Roberts told REVOLT.

In this installment of “Tour Tales,” the multi-instrumentalist musical director discusses remixing John Legend songs live, helping Saweetie with her first-ever “SNL” performance and more.  

You started on the road with John Legend in 2005. How did you two link up initially?

I started with John as the drum tech and stage manager. A friend of mine named Kenny Wright, who was the bass player, was put on the gig by [Adam] Blackstone. Kenny and I grew up playing with this gospel rapper named T-Wise and Temple University. They hired me to be the drum tech and stage manager in 2005. By February 2006, I actually started playing. My first show was the halftime show at the NBA All-Star Game. That was my first John Legend show (laughs). It was cool. Halftime shows are done in advance — you do some pre-recorded stuff. It’s high energy because you try to put as many cool songs as possible in 10-14 minutes. That’s one of the hurdles of putting together a show, especially a tour concert where you try to put the right records, the right amount of the records, and decide how you want to play them. Do you remix them? Do you play them like the original? How do the fans want to experience them? 

Your first tour with John Legend was the “Get Lifted Tour.” What was your favorite song to perform from the Get Lifted album?

I’m trying to think that far back. Getting ready for Vegas, I’ve been going back through every John Legend album for the last two weeks. I think performing ‘Get Lifted’ was my jam. It was a vibe, and it came together live. He’s a good performer, but the groove of ‘Get Lifted’ is fun. The entire album was good.

What was your favorite show from that era?

It was actually right before his album Once Again. We did a live show at Royal Albert Hall in London [on October 2, 2006]. We brought out Kanye [West], Estelle, and a bunch of people. That was probably my favorite show of the Get Lifted era. It was one of my first times playing overseas. 

How involved is John when it comes to his live shows?

Over time, it became him giving me more responsibility. I was the keyboard player for the first three years I was there. Once I became the music director, I already knew how he liked to operate. Still, I was also in a space where I wanted to experiment with different arrangements, vibes and musical moments to make the music different yet the same. Now he gives his input, but he trusts me to come up with arrangements and how I want things to flow. He’s still involved because he’s a musician and a creative

Can you tell us about some of those experimental moments?

He has a song called ‘P.D.A. (We Just Don’t Care).’ We just did a ‘Bigger Love Tour’ with John. Right now in our show, I did a complete afrobeat remix of it. It’s almost like an ‘Essence’ type of record. We’ve played ‘Number One’ over Blackstreet’s ‘No Diggity.’ We’ve flipped songs so many different ways. We’ve performed remixes of ‘Green Light’ with T-Pain on it. 


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Eugene ManMan Roberts (@manmanphilly)

You were also on tour with Snoop Dogg and Wiz Khalifa on the “Mac and Devin Go To High School Tour” in 2012. Were you playing for both of them?

I was doing both of them. Snoop came to see John on tour with Sade [in 2011], and he asked John about his music director. John connected me with Snoop, and I was Snoop’s music director for a while. When he and Wiz came out with the Mac and Devin project, Wiz didn’t have a band, so he used Snoop’s band. That band was an all-Philly band. I hired all Philly people. Once that tour was over, Wiz wanted his own band. So, I put together an all-Philly band for Wiz. I used to [direct music for] J. Cole before I did Snoop. Once I left Cole, I put my homeboy Irvin Washington on with Cole, and he’s still J. Cole’s MD now. There were all Philly people with John and Durk, too. 

How were Snoop and Wiz Khalifa’s shows?

Snoop is really smart and musical, so you have to play off knowing the artist. I know he likes Parliament and older music, so I try to figure out how to give him those vibes he was looking for. With Wiz, he never had a band before. Going in with an artist who never had a band before, you have to slow-walk them into not making major musical changes by adding a lot of cool things that make them feel like they know it’s not the original album. Whether it’s adding strings or transitions to tie songs together, it slowly walks them into creating their sound live. 


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Eugene ManMan Roberts (@manmanphilly)

You have also worked with newer artists like Coi Leray, Saweetie and Lil Durk. How have you helped develop their live shows? 

There’s a lot of communication you have to have when you get these calls — whether it’s management or the artist reaching out directly. I’ve done it at every level, so I know how to watch an artist’s live show grow. I know the proper steps to make them grow with their live sets. At this point, you’re teaching them how to get conditioned to the lifestyle, which deals with working out, eating right, making sure your memory is right to remember songs, and generally grooming them into being a better artist. To help Durk’s show get better, I made certain musical choices for him to tell a certain story as far as talk breaks, how we come in, and the flow of the show. Durk is already a great performer. Creating a structure and helping them become a better performer isn’t about anything specific you tell them — outside of making sure they go over the music, and they’re communicating what they like and don’t like. It’s not a simple answer. 

How did you all prepare Saweetie’s “Saturday Night Live” performance?

We had a conversation. I asked, ‘What do you want to do?’ She told me, ‘I would love to do some sort of throwback, pin-up style.’ I asked, ‘What songs do you want to do? You have to do your hits like ‘Tap In’ and ‘Best Friends.’ But you only get two musical slots, and those slots have to be under three minutes and 30 seconds.’ I started moving things around musically to make it fit in the time restraints. She loved the arrangements. I took her wish, which encompassed the Diana Ross throwback era, and made ‘Tap In’ feel like that. We got it to the choreographer so they could do the choreography for it. We went to New York and rehearsed. Went to ‘SNL’ to soundcheck, and then we performed it. 

You also played on Kanye West’s “Glow in the Dark Tour.” That’s one of the best tours ever. What was your involvement in it?

Adam Blackstone was the music director. I had just got done touring and doing stuff with Teddy Riley. I had just done Guy and Blackstreet. I learned to play vocoder and talk box from Teddy. Adam hit me like, ‘I need vocoder and talk box for this Kanye tour. Ye wants it especially for ‘Stronger,’ ‘Good Life’ and those songs which are heavy on autotune.’ We were supposed to do ‘Workout Plan’ and all of those songs. When I accepted the gig, I flew out to L.A., and I thought I just had to do my two or three songs. Halfway through rehearsal, Ye starts adding more songs. He was like, ‘You play vocoder. Why don’t you play on the hooks?’ The next thing I know, I’m playing on every hook (laughs). Adam put the show together, and when it came to the parts when I played, he was like, ‘Just create something. This is the hook, play the hook, and do some adlibs.’ 

Were there any parts of the show that really stuck out to you?

At the top of ‘Flashing Lights,’ I had this solo he had me do. There was a remix of ‘Flashing Light’ someone had done where they changed the hook a little bit with these little in-between ad-lib parts. He played it for me like, ‘Yo, I need you to do that too.’ Between that and ‘Heard Em Say,’ those were my two favorite moments

Which tour would you say best showed off your talent?

John’s last tour — the ‘Bigger Love Tour’ — may have been the best. The overall outcome of the product, the arrangements, the reaction of the fans, how John felt, the write-ups all show that I used my talents for the best. 

What do you have coming up this year?

I got a Vegas residency with John Legend. Saweetie is always performing. Lil Durk is going on tour. I got a few calls for stuff I haven’t said yes to. I’m a commercial partner for a virtual reality company that allows you to experience concerts in the metaverse. I’m also a partner with Epic Tech Group. I’m on the board there. They’re starting a foundation to take a lot of this music back into the schools and colleges the right way. That’s what I’m working on for the year, along with creating and putting out a lot of music with my fianceé and a couple of other artists.  



View More



View More


Walmart has the home essentials for everyone on your holiday shopping list

Below, our gift guide highlights some of our favorite Walmart finds for anyone in need of a home refresh.

  /  11.24.2023

5 things you need to know about the 2023 Billboard Music Awards

“REVOLT Black News” correspondent Kennedy Rue counts down the top five moments from the 2023 Billboard Music Awards, including surprising wins, historic firsts, and dope performances. Sponsored by Amazon.

  /  11.20.2023

Walmart's HBCU Black and Unlimited Tour kicks off at Central State University

On Oct. 10, Walmart unveiled a brand new, state of the art creative studio on the campus of Central State University.

  /  11.14.2023

The Walmart HBCU Black & Unlimited Tour visited Mississippi Valley State University

The Walmart HBCU Black & Unlimited Tour made its final stop at Mississippi Valley State University (MVSU) and left a lasting impact on students and alumni alike.

  /  11.22.2023

Walmart continues HBCU Black & Unlimited Tour during lively Virginia State University stop

After unveiling their state of the art creative studio on the campus of Central State University, Walmart brought the HBCU Black & Unlimited Tour to Virginia State University (VSU) on Oct. 13.

  /  11.14.2023

Walmart HBCU Black & Unlimited Tour brings attention and wisdom to North Carolina Central University

On Oct. 17, Walmart brought the third stop of the HBCU Black & Unlimited Tour to North Carolina Central University (NCCU).

  /  11.15.2023

Walmart's HBCU Black and Unlimited Tour kicked off at Central State University

In October, Walmart unveiled a brand new, state of the art creative studio on the campus of Central State University. The HBCU located in Wilberforce, OH was the first stop on Walmart’s Black and Unlimited HBCU Tour.

  /  11.28.2023

Dig In & Drink Up | 'Bet on Black'

In this new episode of ‘Bet on Black,’ food and beverage take center stage as aspiring Black entrepreneurs from It’s Seasoned, Black Farmer Box, and Moors Brewing Co. present their business ideas to judges with mentorship from Melissa Butler. Watch here!

  /  11.15.2023

The Auditions | 'Shoot Your Shot'

The competition begins at REVOLT WORLD as rising rappers, singers, and musicians line up to audition for their spot on the main stage. Brought to you by McDonald’s.

  /  11.28.2023

Groovey Lew on hip hop style, Johnell Young's industry secrets, BGS salon's wig mastery and more | 'Black Girl Stuff'

Fashion King Groovey Lew on masterminding hip-hop’s most iconic looks. Actor Johnell Young reveals the secret to breaking into the entertainment industry. Celebrity hairstylist Dontay Savoy and got2B ambassador Tokyo Stylez are in the BGS Salon with the perfect wig install. Plus, comedian Lauren Knight performs.

  /  11.15.2023

Pheelz talks expressing himself through music & his biggest inspirations | 'On In 5'

On this all-new episode of “On In 5,” multitalented Nigerian artist Pheelz opens up about waiting for his opportunity to fully express himself through music, his inspirations and emotions, and the musical icons he grew up admiring. Watch!

  /  07.11.2023

Kareem Cook talks growing up in The Bronx, studying at Duke & networking | 'The Blackprint with Detavio Samuels'

On this all-new episode of “The Blackprint with Detavio Samuels,” the host and REVOLT CEO sits down with Kareem Cook. Throughout the introspective episode, Cook talks growing up in The Bronx, studying at Duke and being nervous to be in the South at the time, network vs. education, taking advantage of your opportunities, and connecting with Debbie Allen. Watch!

  /  07.10.2023

Tiffany Haddish on therapy, wild fan interactions & the upcoming 'Haunted Mansion' movie | 'The Jason Lee Show'

On this all-new episode of “The Jason Lee Show,” the one and only Tiffany Haddish sits for a must-watch conversation about wild interactions with fans, her new movie ‘Haunted Mansion,’ bringing her therapist on dates, and being present. Watch the hilarious interview here.

  /  07.12.2023

BNXN talks leaving IT for music, linking with Wizkid, going viral & new album | 'On In 5'

For this all-new episode of “On In 5,” singer-songwriter BNXN discusses his journey from IT to music, finding his voice and originality, linking up with Wizkid for their hits “Mood” and “Many Ways,” and what fans can expect from him this year — including a new album. Watch the full episode here!

  /  08.08.2023

Investing in stocks in a recession | 'Maconomics'

Host Ross Mac provides useful advice for preparing your personal finances in the event of a recession. He emphasizes the importance of budgeting properly, building an emergency fund, and maintaining discipline when investing.

  /  11.21.2023

Walmart brings in heavy-hitters for Black and Unlimited Tour panel

REVOLT is continuing its impactful partnership with Walmart by teaming up to showcase Black creatives at HBCUs all-across America. The panel consisted of three experienced, accomplished Black HBCU alumni: Actor and media personality Terrence J, entertainment attorney John T. Rose, and actress and “REVOLT Black News” correspondent Kennedy-Rue McCullough.

  /  11.30.2023

Dr. Jaqueline Echols' mission to cure environmental racism

The health of a community can often be traced to the health of the environment that surrounds it. In Atlanta, a woman named Dr. Jaqueline Echols has dedicated her life to helping ensure that people in economically underserved communities have clean rivers – for better health and for the joy of outdoor recreational space.

  /  12.01.2023

Best chef's kiss | 'Bet on Black'

“Bet on Black” is back with an all-new season! Watch as judges Pinky Cole, Bun B, Van Lathan, and Target’s Melanie Gatewood-Hall meet new contestants and hear pitches from entrepreneurs Saucy D and Chef Diva Dawg.

  /  10.24.2023

Good taste test | 'Bet on Black'

With the help of host Dustin Ross and correspondent Danielle Young, entrepreneurs Diva Dawg, Brooklyn Tea, and The Sable Collective pitch their ideas to the judges. Watch the all-new episode of “Bet on Black” now!

  /  10.31.2023

From city lots to lush gardens: The power of urban farming with Karen Washington

This is the inspiring story of Karen Washington, a pioneering urban farmer who has been revolutionizing urban spaces by transforming them into vibrant community gardens and educational hubs. Sponsored by State Farm.

  /  11.17.2023
View More
Revolt - New Episodes