Imagine a city where it’s perpetually summer. A city where the trains are always free,...
DJBooth Album Review
First thing’s first: Tanya Morgan is a hip-hop collective comprised of three guys, not a female R&B singer singed to Bad Boy (actually, Diddy would probably change her name to Danity Morgan, or something equally atrocious). Whatever their reason for choosing such a misleading name, the men of Tanya Morgan have been slowly but surely burning through hip-hop’s underground ranks, emerging into the spotlight with the release of their sophomore album Brooklynati – a name that comes from combining their group members’ respective hometowns (Brooklyn and Cincinnati). They’re lucky they weren’t born Boise and Reno. No one wants to buy an album called Boisno.
In the words of Tanya Morgan, Brooklynati is “the place where I was reborn,” which in a way describes the album as a whole. Too much fun for the backpackers, too complex for mainstream radio, Tanya Morgan doesn’t easily fit into hip-hop’s often-rigid categories, so they gave birth to their own. Just take the lead single So Damn Down, a track that combines an eclectically energetic beat from the group’s resident producer Von Pea while MCs Donwill and Ilyas keep things moving with charismatic verses. As down as I am with Damn Down, I’d rather Bang n’ Boogie. Boogie is one of the best “drive slow with the windows down” tracks in recent memory, a song that radiates the sexual energy of teenagers in the summertime (apologies to Will Smith’s classic Summertime). Does Bang n’ Boogie get play in Los Angeles, Chicago, Atlanta or New York? I don’t know, but in Brooklynati, it’s a smash.
We now pause this review for an important announcement: The reader who can identify the most old school song references in the track Hardcore Gentlemen will win a shout out in next week’s review. For example, the second verse clearly contains a reference to ODB’s Shimmy Shimmy Ya. There’s at least five more old school references in the track, find ‘em and you’ll be famous, kind of. It’s like a Where’s Waldo hunt, except it might actually get you laid.
No city is perfect, and the same is true for Brooklynati. One of the album’s biggest strengths, its consistency and quality, is also one of its biggest weaknesses. Since so many of the album’s tracks live a mellowed and mid-tempo life they have a tendency to run together, losing an individual identity. In and of itself I don’t have anything against Morgan Blu, a soulful track built around a rhythm guitar line, but there’s nothing in the track to latch onto, making it disappear into the album’s sonic background. The same goes for Without U, an ode to hip-hop that would have been more powerful if it weren’t so clearly modeled after Common’s I Used to Love H.E.R., and the sparkling Never Secondary is so light is seems to floats off into space. Still, as much as I love my L.A. home, I’d have to seriously consider moving to a city that parties as hard as Alleye Need, a city full or artists so dedicated to music they don’t need a Plan B. Now that’s a city you can raise a family in.
OK hip-hop, you’ve officially been put on notice. With Brooklynati Tanya Morgan have created a musical landscape that captures the feeling of a living, breathing city, and if given enough time, they just might be able to create their own world. You’ve been warned. Act accordingly.
DJBooth Rating - 4 Spins
Written by Nathan S. on Jun 16, 2009
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