SXSW Brings Us Tanya Morgan

Hip hop group puts on a show at SXSW

Tanya Morgan is a whore.  Got three rapper dudes.  Yep.  Von Pea from Brooklyn, and Donwill and Ilyas from Cincinnati. So, um, yeah…by “whore” I actually mean rap group.  Yes, Tanya Morgan is the name of a rap group.  Just like their name, they aim to shock and mystify, or plainly, have you “expect the unexpected.” i.e. if one of them eats all your WingStop while you’re not looking, don’t be mad.  “WingStop’s the sh*$!” © Donwill

Anyway, back to Tanya.  Ol’ Tanya’s gotten around a bit.

Maybe you heard the 2006 debut, “Moonlighting,” which made Questlove of The Roots’ Top 10 albums of 2006.  If you don’t know who Questlove is, slap yourself – right now.  He’s a drummer slash mogul-esque-celebrity-person that Twitters a lot, which means you should listen to everything he says.  But really, even XXL, Source Magazine, and Wax Poetics Magazine praised the work.  And I often wiggle to it in my cubicle to the dismay of my neighbors.  For serious – high-five to “Moonlighting” for putting some zest in my cube-life.

As a prelude to “Moonlighting,” Tanya Morgan released a mixtape entitled “Sunlighting” and an EP, “Sunset.”  Their debut was followed by yet another mixtape, “Tanya Morgan Is A Rap Group” and “The Bridge EP,” which both dropped in 2008.  Each member is individually ambitious as well, having released at least one solo project.  Most recent are Von Pea’s “Further Adventures of Von Pea” (2008), Donwill’s “Suburban Sprawl” (2009), and Ilyas’ “The Prelude” (2009).  It’s rumored that Donwill might be a machine, as he has yet another project slated for 2009 entitled “Don Cusak in High Fidelity.”

Tanya Morgan pegs itself as almost a revivalist group, as “reminding people why they loved hip hop in the first place” (aka before Souljah Boy “supermanned that ho,” and before Kanye got autotune happy, and before Common decided that he really really liked The Gap, and before Charles Hamilton shamelessly stole beats).  They also explain their catalog as one long concept album, playing continuously if pieced together.  And I realize my parenthetical references could be their own paragraph.  But you need to stop judging.

“Brooklynati” is Tanya Morgan’s latest project (set for May 12th), and it basically cannot disappoint.  In fact, it’s genetically engineered to be better than you. For good measure: Von makes brownies better than your mom, Ilyas reads more books than Reading Rainbow, and Don is meaner than the guy that stole your lunch money yesterday.  And they all still rap better than your cousin’s best friend’s ex-boyfriend’s brother.  Yep, better than all that.

Tanya Morgan - We Be

The album functions as a narrative leading the listener through the story of Tanya Morgan and what makes it a group.  “Plan B” is the most revealing track, painting an image of what might be if these lads weren’t rapping together.  “On Our Way” is the most defining track in that is the greatest departure from the group’s sound to-date, showing a glimpse of what’s to come.  In the barest sense, “Brooklynati” is the merging of the group’s two cities holistically, not just sonically – a look into the world of the three rugged and smooth gentlemen, so to speak.

Already dynamic performers, the trio name one of its current focuses as improving their stage show.  Having just wrapped up SXSW and a video shoot in Oakland for their first single off “Brooklynati,” “So Damn Down,” Tanya Morgan isn’t wasting any time on that promise by hopping right onto a 10-city Canadian tour:

April 20            Vancouver
April 23            Calgary
April 24            Edmonton
April 25            Winnipeg
April 28            Toronto
April 29            Kingston
April 30            Ottawa
May 1               Montreal
May 2               Halifax
May 3               Moncton

Catch them if you can.

Seher Sikandar is a Bay Area-based photographer who shoots art and lifestyle events. Check out her portfolio at

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