Manhattan trap R&B singer HypeManKel makes waves with sound

Hypeman Kel Neil poses in front of the College of Human Ecology sign at Kansas State University. (File Photo by Vail Moshiri | Collegian Media Group)

Mikel Neil Jr., a 26-year-old musician of Manhattan, Kansas, and former Kansas State kinesiology student, discovered his love for music in his hometown church in St. Louis, Missouri. He and his family had their own music and dance group within the church. As his life advanced, his love for music never went away even while pursuing other avenues.

Neil, who records under the artist name HypeManKel, describes his music as melodic trap R&B.

“I sing, but sometimes,” Neil said. “I also can also rap, which is pretty cool to be able to diversify my music that way. It is for college students, issues they can relate to.”

Performing is not new to Neil. Between his music group, dance group and step shows, he has been performing all his life. Neil was hosting the show Thirsty Thursday Radio on 91.9 FM with his friend BJ Lindsey when he discovered his sound.

“The turning point was once I started doing college radio, and I saw that I had a good niche for what my sound was,” Neil said. “I recorded my first song, and it was on from there.”

He practices anywhere and everywhere from the bathroom mirror to in front of friends. And his determination shows.

“His work ethic is like his personality — it’s very rare and almost like one of a kind,” Lindsey said. “The guy doesn’t sleep, and he’s either staying up working on his music or gaining knowledge about the industry.”

For Neil though, the real deal comes when you step into the studio.

In the studio it’s like a whole other playing field; you are focusing on hitting the notes properly and executing the songs to reach their full potential,” Neil said.

Neil performed a show at K-State in January using all his own music.

“I was able to get some great crowd involvement, and they really enjoyed the music,” Neil said. “It was surreal and definitely something I’ll remember forever.”

Neil is also strongly supported by one of his close friends Margaret Kellstrom, who aids his creative process.

“I help set up and run studio sessions and really act as a support system while he’s creating,” Kellstrom said.

The future is hopeful for Neil. He plans on releasing more music with the goal of making an impact on future generations of music. Though his goals are lofty, he said he hopes to give back to his roots.

“I do plan on being able to give back to the College of Human Ecology for their support through my journey in school,” Neil said.