You Know I Got Soul: Tanya Morgan

Being outside the box is nothing new for Tanya Morgan. The

Brooklyn/Cincinnati-based trio’s 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.

 

Donwill

 

1. John Mayer

 

He’s one of my favorites. Songwriting. His songwriting is

crazy. I just really like the way he uses his words. It’s really witty and it’s

pop, youknowwhatimsayin. It represents our generation well.

 

2. Stevie Wonder

 

One of my favorite musicians of all time. I’m an eternal

consumer. I love everything the man does and puts his hands on. So he’s just

one of them dudes. I ain’t really gotta go too deep with him.

 

3. Zapp and Roger

 

Just simply because 1. They’re from Ohio. 2. I mean the

whole Auto-Tune thing. I’m not saying that they pioneered that but I’m 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

 

I’ve been listening to them a little bit. I’ve been tuning

into them. They’re pretty dope. They definitely have a counter. Not even

Hip-Hop… It’s the classic template of just like a female vocalist and a male

accompanying band. They make really tight, concise pop songs. It’s not like

schmaltzy pop. It’s not like the kind of pop that sounds like Pink. It’s just

catchy tunes that’s in essence of pop.

 

5. The Beatles

 

I love the Beatles en mass. I’m not thinking McCartney or

Lennon or Harrison. I’m thinking the Beatles. For me, most of the bands that

I’m picking, like the context, it’s my relationship to them. Just like The

music is powerful. You know it’s 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 they’re addressing TMZ today. Like back then. They’re

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

enough.

 

Wildcard pick:

 

Bilal

 

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 D’Angelo; Bilal was like D’Angelo 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 didn’t come out. The joint that leaked. It’s on the tip of my

tongue. Love for Sale.

 

That joint is probably one of the most incredible, non

Hip-Hop… I won’t say soul. I won’t say R&B albums. I’ll say non Hip-Hop

albums to come out. It’s just amazing album. Dude is an incredible talent.

Straight up and down. You can tell his range and influences show. He doesn’t

limit himself to being a Sam Cooke fan or being a James Brown fan. He’s

probably a bigger Pink Floyd fan or somebody.

 

Ilyas

 

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. That’s all

I’ma say.

 

2. Maynard James Keenan

 

He’s the lead singer for Tool and Perfect Circle or

whatever. He’s put out a ton of albums but it’s pretty much like hard rock.

They’re pretty popular. But he’s 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 don’t 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 he’s an amazing lyricist.

 

3. Björk

 

Björk is one of those artists where… you know how most

artists you’ll be like, “Oh they’re in Hip-Hop or rock?” But she’s just Björk,

youknowwhatimsayin. She just has her own brand of music and she’s creative and

she’s just always trying to push her creative limit. I like how she doesn’t

care to conform. She came out; I forget at what award show, she came out

wearing a goose. It’s like she’s in rebellion. She’s in constant rebellion. She

knew the people would trip, but that’s just Björk because she’s a rebel at

heart and she’s always trying to push her creative limits. And I appreciate

that.

 

Especially the project she did with Rahzel [2004’s 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. It’s this

new cat I got put on to actually like a few weeks ago. I was sitting at Von’s

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. It’s a guy out of the UK.

And it’s like electronic, but the shit is craaaazy. It’s like electronic, but I

guess it’s moreso called experimental. But it’s just craaazy. It’s like a crazy

fusion of any type of music you can think of.

 

5. Erykah Badu

 

She’s 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 she’s definitely a legendary artist that I

feel has a lot more still to bring to the table.

 

Von Pea

 

For my picks, I have moreso specific songs. I can’t really

go across the artist’s whole catalogue… I have artists and it’s actually

based on songs that were sampled or hearing a song I would sample and going

into the rest of artist’s 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 I’m big on the

harmonies and how people just hold that together in song.

 

2. “Let’s Love” by the Ohio Players

I picked them because of a song called “Let’s Love.” I

picked that one because of the way the melody builds. It’s 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.

It’s just perfect. The horns. It’s 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.

It’s just they’re another group that’s 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. It’s funny because I guess when you listen to

it, it sounds like a cheesy corny kind of song but…I don’t 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

Design

 

Free Design, if I’m 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 they’re kids

and they’re running around in their parents’ backyard with a kite. Their music

just sounds like that. And they’re another group that was big on harmony but

the song “Bubbles,” in particular, had like a real funky kind of…it could’ve

been a joint you would hear on Sesame Street but it wasn’t. It’s 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 you’re 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 Morgan’s Brooklynati is in stores now.**To get the latest AllHipHop Alternatives Features, follow us on Twitter @ www.twitter.com/AHHalternatives**

Related Stories