Tanya Morgan
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Tanya Morgan

New York City, New York, United States | INDIE

New York City, New York, United States | INDIE
Band Hip Hop R&B

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Jul
26
Tanya Morgan @ The Gramophone

St. Louis, Missouri, United States

St. Louis, Missouri, United States

Mar
30
Tanya Morgan @ Hailey's

Denton, Texas, United States

Denton, Texas, United States

Mar
14
Tanya Morgan @ Rusty's

Austin, Texas, United States

Austin, Texas, United States

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Music

Press


"This ain't no hipster rap," asserts Von Pea on the song "We're Fly," from Tanya Morgan's excellent sophomore effort, "Brooklynati." Despite all indications—a loose album concept merging Brooklyn with Cincinnati, complete with a park named after the posthumously beloved producer J. Dilla—he's right. On the album, rappers Von Pea, Don Will and Ilyas reimagine old-school hip-hop at its purest, and those who miss the days when party rap was for grownups and its forefathers (De La Soul, A Tribe Called Quest) came in threes would do well to hear it. Over crisp, thoughtful beats by its in-house production team, Tanya Morgan displays lyrical agility and honors the past in earnest ways, as on the boastful "So Damn Down," the sentimental "Plan B" and the cheeky, as on the Pharcyde- and Onyx-mocking, rough-and-tumble track "Hardcore Gentlemen." The effect is never derivative, nor is it catered to the commercial hip-hop landscape, but it's always memorable.—Monica Herrera - Billboard


"Tanya Morgan are like the sons of De La Soul -- soulful, stressed, effortlessly smart flows, intricate production, the whole package," SPIN Music Editor Charles Aaron says of the up-and-coming rappers -- high praise, indeed.... - Spin


The young trio attempts to save hip hop’s home
Tanya Morgan
Brooklynati (Interdependent)

If you’ve hit Freshly Dipped, going north on 13th Street, you’ve gone too far. Yancey Park is one block south, between Roebling Avenue and Whitehurst Way. The sprawling park—in memoriam of the late producer James “J Dilla” Yancey—is hosting a fundraiser at Grippo’s Community Center for DJ Jurx’s Record Store. Plagued by low sales, the store, which specializes in rare vinyl and forgotten rap gems—like Stetsasonic’s Full Gear (Tommy Boy, 1988) and Camp Lo’s Uptown Saturday Night (Profile, 1997)—is asking all Brooklynati residents to support the dying record shop. Because even in Brooklynati, as in real life, local Mom-and-Pop landmarks have been hit by recession tremors. The fictitious urban metropolis is no exception to hard times (and, perhaps, that’s what makes it all the more real). And yet in spite of the obstacles—both real and imagined alike—on their second full-length album, Donwill, Ilyas, and Von Pea, collectively Tanya Morgan, have crafted an expansive tour de force.

Save for a few bohemian B-boys posting “hip hop ain’t dead, underground rap is where it’s at!” on okayplayer. message boards, not many heard Tanya Morgan’s impressive 2006 debut, Moonlighting (Loud Minority). A mélange of jazz and soul with witty, blue-collar lyricism, Moonlight shined for its sonic unpredictability. Morgan’s follow-up, Brooklynati, named after the fictitious city, an apocryphal marriage of their hometowns, Brooklyn and Cincinnati, is more of the same, bursting with old-school fervor that recalls The Pharcyde on “Hardcore Gentlemen” and “We’re Fly.”

“The box they put us in ain’t big enough for me to grow,” spits Ilyas on the “On Our Way,” referencing the brand of rap—underground, boho, granola, what have you— Tanya Morgan’s been stereotyped with. Here, the line is also a reference to the creation of Brooklynati, making sure listeners understand that the city is equally a metaphor for imagining one’s own world of dreams. The guest list is long here, as Spec Boogie, Peter Hadar, Che Grand, and Phonte make notable appearances. Heartache takes center stage on the airy “Without You,” while L.A. rhymer Blu assists the trio on “Morgan Blu,” a bold and aggressive track for the budding conglomerate. But be warned: this is not your mother’s hip hop. Tanya Morgan is bolder and braver than forbearers like Black Star and Slum Village. Why? Because Brooklynati is home. Because while driving down 13th Street, going south, toward Yancey Park—indeed, toward a rare slice of hip hop Americana—the only thing you’ll be wondering is: Are we there yet? - Vibe.com


Possessive
Tanya Morgan

fans would do well to savor these last moments that the hip-hop trio exists as their own ‘best kept secret.’ A brief sampling of their third release Brooklynati reveals a group that has entered the next phase of their career, making a worthy case for the Native Tongue comparisons that have been attributed to their brand of comfortably creative hip-hop by the likes of ?uestlove, XXL, and
The Source

.

Based around a fictional city located somewhere between Brooklyn, NYC and Cincinnati, Ohio, Brooklynati joins a notable pantheon of one of hip-hop’s most rewarding and intricate microcosms – the concept album – and is bubbling with cool and breezy songs that never meander into thumb-twiddling territory. In keeping with the record’s conceptual spin, the group and their label, Interdependent Media, launched a full-fledged viral online campaign, complete with an interactive social media site for the Brooklynati Chamber of Commerce.

“The thing about this group is that we’re like kids – we all have great imaginations. A lot of times, people will come up with great ideas but they only follow halfway through, so it never gets fully realized,” explains emcee Donwill, a Cincinnati native who now calls Brooklyn home. “We were trying to get this Brooklynati on Googlemaps so we could trick people! We kind of get off on little weird shit like that.”

“I remember seeing how the movie Cloverfield had so many viral websites, and then Phonte from
Little Brother

put me on to that
Nine Inch Nails

album Year Zero and everything that went into that campaign,” says Brooklynite/emcee/producer Von Pea. “The label was like, ‘if we’re gonna go in, let’s go all the way in,’ and from there everything started flowing as we continued to come up with shit.”

Read More: http://www.okayplayer.com/interviews/latest-interviews/there_s-no-place-like-home:-tanya-morgan-take-us-to-brooklynati-200905127987/ - Okayplayer.com


It might be an imagined combination of their hometowns, but
Tanya Morgan’s

Brooklynati sounds like the perfect place for me. A park dedicated to James “
J Dilla”

Yancey? Check. A music shop named after Questlove? Check. A phenomenal soundtrack to the city that could play 24 hours a day and never become annoying and/or tiring? Check. Sorry, Rhode Island, but you just aren’t doing it for me anymore. I’m packing my bags and moving to Brooklynati.

Alright, maybe not. But I would be there in a heartbeat if the city wasn’t just an alternate reality created for Tanya Morgan’s latest album of the same name. While this trio of emcees Ilyas and Donwill, of Cincinnati, and rapper/producer Von Pea, of Brooklyn, has steadily churned out solid music since 2003, nothing has ever sounded as satisfying as this record. That’s not to downplay Moonlighting or The Bridge, which are both fine efforts in their own right. There is just something about Brooklynati that feels right. And that feeling never fades throughout the 15-track album. It’s no easy feat to keep a listener intrigued today when blogs seem to have the “best new thing” every other minute. But Tanya Morgan does just that with a plethora of fantastic production and topnotch lyricism. It’s a record that combines the best of what we all loved from the likes of A Tribe Called Quest and
De La Soul

with hints of
Little Brother

thrown in. Although, to be fair, Tanya Morgan isn’t at Tribe and De La’s level just yet, but this album definitely has set them in the right direction.

What’s most impressive about Brooklynati is the fact that it never stops with the hits. There is hardly ever a moment when a track drags on too long or a beat just doesn’t feel right. The only culprit in that camp is “Morgan Blu”, which features Blu, one of Cali’s finest emcees. His guest verse is spot on, as are Tanya Morgan’s, but things become slightly stale around the four-minute mark. Perhaps this track would be a standout on a weaker LP. But on here, it’s a bit of a disappointment. That’s not to say it’s bad. It just doesn’t hit as hard as its cohorts. And it doesn’t help that it’s smack dab in the middle of the swirling
Golden Age

boom-bap of “Just Not True” and the funky love song “Never Enough”, featuring a smooth hook from the lovely pipes of Carlitta Durand.

With that one misstep in check, Tanya Morgan tackles the other 14 tracks with ease. Well, technically 13 tracks since of them is an intermission that works to further set the tone and concept of the record. And, like any album worthy of praise, there is a little something for everyone here. Brooklynati‘s lead single and shit-talking extravaganza “So Damn Down” is easily one of 2009’s finest feel-good anthems. But right up there with “So Damn Down” is the stellar “She’s Gone”, an ode to hip-hop in the vein of Common’s “I Used to Love H.E.R.”. Phonte, of Little Brother and
the Foreign Exchange

, graces “She’s Gone” with a soulful hook that further drives home the track’s message. Then there is album-opener “On Our Way”, an inspiring take on moving away to a place where “we can be kings”. And just as notable is the hilarious “Hardcore Gentlemen” performed by Hardcore Gentlemen, Brooklynati‘s infamous one-hit-wonder group. The track is essentially a chance for Von Pea, Ilyas, and Donwill to showcase their humor as they poke fun at Onyx,
the Pharcyde

, Wu-Tang Clan, and others while spitting over a quintessential early ‘90s beat. As you can tell, the list of highlights doesn’t exactly end.

Further accelerating the album’s pace are the stellar beats bumping in the background of every single track. The producers at this album’s helm, which include Von Pea and Aeon, really put their foot in this one. Each aforementioned track is packed with beats that would make Golden Age-heads a little misty-eyed. From the drums to the soul samples to the creative use of instruments, everything works and then some.

Brooklynati is one of those albums that further proves the fact that hip-hop is not, and will never be, dead. As long as there are talented artists out there like Tanya Morgan looking to push the genre forward, hip-hop will remain healthy and full of gusto. The bigger picture aside, this record is simply one of the year’s best with a firm spot cemented in my top 10 list, even if it’s only May. I bid good luck to any groups or rappers who try to outdo the effort and quality of Brooklynati, because you will have a hell of a time topping it. - Popmatters.com


Once they got past the “that’s a woman’s name, not a Rap group!” confusion and quips, the trio of Tanya Morgan [click to read] have begun to do pretty well for themselves. Their first two efforts, Moonlighting and The Bridge, have garnered them critical acclaim from both media outlets and by their Hip Hop contemporaries (the advance copy of the album in this review has drops from the likes of Xzibit, Jack Davey [click to read], Ill Bill [click to read] and others, and even more artists are involved in the “map,” which will be elaborated on soon).

Their latest album, Brooklynati, looks to create a city based on Brooklyn and Cincinnati, the respective hometowns of the group’s members. Complete with a map in the album’s linear notes, the city seems like the ideal spot for any Hip Hop head: The Roots’ ?uestlove [click to read] is the mayor, and the likes of 88-Keys, [click to read] Miss Info, and Phonte [click to read] all operate businesses in the area. But thankfully, Brooklynati doesn’t let the hype supersede it: the music here is just as complete as the concept and marketing plan.

With Brooklynati being a tourist attraction and vacation spot, it only makes sense that many of the instrumentals on the album are relaxing. The album opening track “On Our Way” sees the trio utilizing a silky synth and guitar combo to summarize the concept and their impending success, almost showing how patient the trio is being while they create success on their own terms. Meanwhile, “Just Not True” sees them confidently boasting their rhyme skills over a sample-driven backdrop, and the following “Morgan Blu” [click to listen] sees them flexing bars with L.A.’s golden child Blu [click to read] over a similarly chill soundscape. Skits help hold the album—and the city—together as well: “Intermission” sees residents of Brooklynati talking about why they love the area (“Brooklynati is the place my son was born, and where I was reborn”), Ms. Autumn gives daily announcements at the end of “Alleye Need,” and Miss Info gives Hip Hop news before the album-closing bonus cut.

Gimmicks aside, Brooklynati succeeds because of the quality of the music. All of these songs work outside of the initial concept: “Plan B” speaks on how music is the priority in their lives, while the subdued “Without U” sees the trio rhyming about heartbreak (seemingly with music, since they consistently insist “This not a girl song”), with assistance from a singing Phonte and Brittany Bosco. “Hardcore Gentleman” is a whimsical “song for the bitches” parody whose soundscape could easily fit in on an early De La Soul record, while the real song for the women, “Can’t Get Enough” [click to listen], is executed flawlessly with a lively, horn-blowing instrumental and a hook by Carlitta Durand. And the hilarious “Don’t U Holla” clowns shady show promoters that don’t get the trio their chips for performing. As unique as Brooklynati is, topics like these—passion for a career, comedy, women, and hustling for some change—are integral parts of anyone’s life, whether they’re inhabitants of Tanya Morgan’s place of resident or not.

Considering the way that underground Hip Hop can be stigmatized and confined, Tanya Morgan’s approach with Brooklynati only made sense: creating their own environment, where their music makes sense without the restrictions, reputations, or bullshit that the industry or naysayers would burden them with. Fortunately, even though the trio is in their own world, their brand of Hip Hop is more versatile than some may give them credit for. If a listener gives Brooklynati a shot, dope beats and rhymes will ensure that they’ll enjoy their stay—whether it’s for a weekend getaway, or for a new place of residence.

- HipHopDx.com


Discography

The Sunlighting Mixtape
Moonlighting LP
The Bridge EP
Brooklynati LP
"So Damn Down" (Single, Brooklynati)

Photos

Bio

Tanya Morgan is a rap group. And that seems apparently clear after their soon-to-be-classic sophomore album, Brooklynati (out May 12 on Interdependent Media) started and earning them Native Tongue comparisons from the likes of Billboard, Vibe, Spin, and XXL Magazine. "Tanya Morgan are like the sons of De La Soul -- soulful, stressed, effortlessly smart flows, intricate production, the whole package," says SPIN Music Editor Charles Aaron. The trio from Brooklyn and Cincinnati produce their own beats and have crafted a concept album called Brooklynati, based on a fictionalized golden-era hip-hop utopia and their individual journies from the real world to get there. Features include Phonte from Little Brother, British expatriate Che Grand and buzz-worthy California MC Blu. The video for "So Damn Down" - the lead single from Brooklynati - is currently in rotation on MTVu and MTV Jamz.

Hailing from both Brooklyn and Cincinnati, Tanya Morgan formed on the message boards of Okayplayer.com in 2003 when Don Will, Ilyas and Von Pea were all solo artists swapping demos and new verses with each other for feedback. The three MC decided to collaborate for a one-off project and settled on the name Tanya Morgan - an inside joke to trick hip-hop crate-diggers and sample-searchers into thinking the record was an old-school soul singer. After their debut album, Moonlighting, was endorsed by the likes of ?uestlove in 2006 and was received enthusiastically by fans, Tanya Morgan decided to keep working together and keep the name. After nearly 6 years as a group, the name just means expect the unexpected. And that is what Tanya Morgan delivers to its fans on every record and at every live show!