Being outside the box is nothing new for Tanya Morgan. The
Brooklyn/Cincinnati-based trios name may conjure up images of a lone female,
but male rappers Donwill, Ilyas and Von Pea are anything but, as they fuel
their rhymes with diverse views and influences for the masses.
As a result, the collective has endeared themselves to fans
since the release of their online mixtape, Sunlighting, and EP, Sunset. This edition of “You Know I Got Soul” asks Tanya Morgan to discover
their Top 5 non-rap artists as well as the many influences behind their
approach to rap. The group is currently working on their forthcoming album Brooklynati, the follow-up to their full-length debut, Moonlighting.
1. John Mayer
Hes one of my favorites. Songwriting. His songwriting is
crazy. I just really like the way he uses his words. Its really witty and its
pop, youknowwhatimsayin. It represents our generation well.
2. Stevie Wonder
One of my favorite musicians of all time. Im an eternal
consumer. I love everything the man does and puts his hands on. So hes just
one of them dudes. I aint really gotta go too deep with him.
3. Zapp and Roger
Just simply because 1. Theyre from Ohio. 2. I mean the
whole Auto-Tune thing. Im not saying that they pioneered that but Im saying
they used vocoders. To the younger generation, it all sounds like a mechanical
voice whereas a vocoder is an actual instrument that you have to have musical
ability to play I want to say Zapp and Roger because I feel at this point they
need to be recognized so that kids can get that musicality back.
4. [Swedish electronic music band] Little Dragon
Ive been listening to them a little bit. Ive been tuning
into them. Theyre pretty dope. They definitely have a counter. Not even
Hip-Hop Its the classic template of just like a female vocalist and a male
accompanying band. They make really tight, concise pop songs. Its not like
schmaltzy pop. Its not like the kind of pop that sounds like Pink. Its just
catchy tunes thats in essence of pop.
5. The Beatles
I love the Beatles en mass. Im not thinking McCartney or
Lennon or Harrison. Im thinking the Beatles. For me, most of the bands that
Im picking, like the context, its my relationship to them. Just like The
music is powerful. You know its powerful when you singing about an entirely
different environment or landscape and set of influences and still relate.
Like one of my favorite songs, The Ballad of John and
Yoko, is basically like theyre addressing TMZ today. Like back then. Theyre
like Yo, leave us alone. We just want to make our music, have a relationship
and chill. A lot of their topics and a lot of their issues were timeless. You
can put that CD in right now and it will relate somehow if you think hard
I love Bilal. Straight up.
Before 1st Born Second,
when I heard the songs he was making, just what he was doing. I was blown away
by DAngelo; Bilal was like DAngelo 2.0. The way he would use his voice. He
would go from a falsetto to a soprano. He would hit every note you can imagine.
Not to mention the dude is out of his mind. On some straight up…And then the
album that didnt come out. The joint that leaked. Its on the tip of my
tongue. Love for Sale.
That joint is probably one of the most incredible, non
Hip-Hop I wont say soul. I wont say R&B albums. Ill say non Hip-Hop
albums to come out. Its just amazing album. Dude is an incredible talent.
Straight up and down. You can tell his range and influences show. He doesnt
limit himself to being a Sam Cooke fan or being a James Brown fan. Hes
probably a bigger Pink Floyd fan or somebody.
1. The Isley Brothers
They hometown, but I feel like they did a whole lot for the
whole R&B and soul genre coming up. Like really laying down the foundation.
I mean there are countless numbers of cats in Hip-Hop that have sampled them
and made hits over the years. And they really set the mood for me quite a few
times in the right situation, if you get me. Seriously. They have held me down.
Never fail. You throw on the Isley Brothers. 100 percent effective. Thats all
2. Maynard James Keenan
Hes the lead singer for Tool and Perfect Circle or
whatever. Hes put out a ton of albums but its pretty much like hard rock.
Theyre pretty popular. But hes an amazing lyricist because he writes
compositions. And not only does he do that, but he touches on a lot of
spiritual things that a lot of artists dont really touch on. So he knows how
to really hit a chord when you listen to his music. Like the instrumentation is
off the hook. But he has an amazing voice and hes an amazing lyricist.
Björk is one of those artists where you know how most
artists youll be like, Oh theyre in Hip-Hop or rock? But shes just Björk,
youknowwhatimsayin. She just has her own brand of music and shes creative and
shes just always trying to push her creative limit. I like how she doesnt
care to conform. She came out; I forget at what award show, she came out
wearing a goose. Its like shes in rebellion. Shes in constant rebellion. She
knew the people would trip, but thats just Björk because shes a rebel at
heart and shes always trying to push her creative limits. And I appreciate
Especially the project she did with Rahzel [2004s Medúlla]. That was dope. That was a dope collaborative
effort. She had Rahzel doing a lot of different instruments. And they did an
album and that shit was crazy. It was crazy.
4. Aphex Twin
I would have to go with something radical here. Its this
new cat I got put on to actually like a few weeks ago. I was sitting at Vons
house and we were recording. We was closing out Brooklynati and Von had these real ill videos done by these
directors. I believe this director in particular, his name was Chris
Cunningham. He did a lot of videos for Aphex Twin. Its a guy out of the UK.
And its like electronic, but the shit is craaaazy. Its like electronic, but I
guess its moreso called experimental. But its just craaazy. Its like a crazy
fusion of any type of music you can think of.
5. Erykah Badu
Shes able to communicate I guess certain deeper truths and
spiritual truths and make it entertaining. I know a lot of people on her most
recent album got kinda lost, but her catalog, as a whole, I feel like she is
gonna go down as being a legend. And shes definitely a legendary artist that I
feel has a lot more still to bring to the table.
For my picks, I have moreso specific songs. I cant really
go across the artists whole catalogue… I have artists and its actually
based on songs that were sampled or hearing a song I would sample and going
into the rest of artists catalogue and just picking out songs I like.
1. Come and Play in the Milky Night by Stereolab
I picked Stereolab because of a song called Come and Play
in the Milky Night. That was a song that was sampled. What I like about that
song so much is Stereolab is known for their harmonies. And Im big on the
harmonies and how people just hold that together in song.
2. Lets Love by the Ohio Players
I picked them because of a song called Lets Love. I
picked that one because of the way the melody builds. Its a slow song, but it
just sounds like With any band, they all have to be in unison. But on that song
specifically, Ohio Players sound perfectly in unison. And just the way it
builds, like [starts singing] It takes you. And me, together. Aaalll this love.
Its just perfect. The horns. Its just a perfect song to me.
3. The Visit by [Finnish experimental rock band] Circle
I picked them for the same reason that I picked Stereolab.
Its just theyre another group thats big on harmony. And the song called The
Visit, which was sampled by A Tribe Called Quest. I kinda feel like I almost
grew up with this song even more than the song that sampled it. And it just
became one of my favorite songs. Its funny because I guess when you listen to
it, it sounds like a cheesy corny kind of song but I dont know. It connects
with me because of the harmonies and the way they did it.
4. Bubbles by [Sunshine pop/Baroque pop group] The Free
Free Design, if Im not mistaken, they were a musical
family. I think it was like two brothers and two sisters or something like
that. And all of their songs just sounds like adults that think theyre kids
and theyre running around in their parents backyard with a kite. Their music
just sounds like that. And theyre another group that was big on harmony but
the song Bubbles, in particular, had like a real funky kind of it couldve
been a joint you would hear on Sesame Street but it wasnt. Its real dope.
5. I Like You by Blue Magic
One day I had put this song on; I was using it to sample it.
But normally I let the song play and I stopped using the beat and just played
this song for a week all the time, nonstop. To me, the song sounds like they
were aiming to make a real nice pop, cute love song, but so much soul is in the
song it sounds like they were pretending to love the girl in the song, you
know. Like, they really wanted to say Baby you fine but instead they were
saying I like you and I think youre nice. I want to hold your hand. It just
comes across that they was holding back that funk and that soul within the
song. And they just held back to make this pop song.
Tanya Morgans Brooklynati is in stores now.**To get the latest AllHipHop Alternatives Features, follow us on Twitter @ www.twitter.com/AHHalternatives**