Artist: Tanya MorganTitle: SunlightingRating: 3 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Jesse Fairfax
Upon hearing the name Tanya Morgan one would expect the next in an already long line of mediocre female R&B acts. Have no fear, in this case it’s the name of a male Hip-hop trio consisting of MC/producer Von Pea [“Von Sees” from Foreign Exchange’s Connected album] representing Brooklyn and Ilyas & Donwill who make up the Midwest group Ilwil. Having taken a similar approach as Nicolay & Phonte, the soloist and duo combined forces from different studios in the hopes of making unified magic with Sunlighting.
The opener “Suntro” is a rousing welcome where the three bounce off of each other flipping completely different flows but all fitting perfectly over the beat. It serves as a lyrical introduction to listeners and a warning shot to competitors as Von Pea makes it clear, “We defiantly move like we in our terrible twos/you inspired then you must have a terrible muse”. “Cool Breezin” is a throwback to partying and having a good time with and along the same vibe is “A Love Joint Named Saturday” detailing the joys that come from weekend leisure time. “Everybody Sucks” jacks House of Pain’s “Jump Around” having them make a mockery of rappers who fail to fit the bill. They’re even bold enough to attempt courting Latinas over Gerardo’s cringe-worthy “Rico Suave” in the name of entertainment. Sure to bring further laughter is “WTF” with their impersonations of Fabolous, Silkk The Shocker, Baby and Juvenile amongst others.
Not to be confused as strictly comedians Tanya Morgan has their share of heavier material as well. Ilyas steals the show on the second half of “Tanya Guitar Watson” with a double time rap over Dead Prez’ “Hip-Hop”, addressing corruption reaching from the government as far as his local police department. A highlight of the album is “She Moved Outta Cincy” where they use the D’Angelo “Africa” track to tell a moving story of their experiences knowing the same young woman at different phases of her life.
A big draw to this group is their burning desire to bring fun and creativity back to a rap game oversaturated with repetitive messages. They’re well-rounded students of the game with a love for the art that shines through. Best of all, this is a promo intended to build a buzz for their forthcoming LP Moonlighting boasting original production from Von Pea and Brickbeats of Cincinnati.