(Today's Reader Review comes from Keeshawn, who decided that what HHID was missing was a Tanya Morgan review. And you know what? He's right. Brooklynati is the sophomore effort from one of Blogland's most beloved and curiously named rap trios: after reading though his thoughts, be sure to leave some comments for Keeshawn.)
Tanya Morgan is a rap group consisting of Von Pea, Ilyas, and Donwill. Not many people know about this group, which is a damn shame, but I'll go into a brief description. Basically, Von Pea (from Brooklyn) met Donwill and Ilyas (from Cincinnati) through the hip hop website okayplayer.com. They shared similar interests in music, and decided that it would be a good idea to work together. Since they lived so far apart, most of their debut album, Moonlighting, was done through AOL Instant Messenger, and it was pretty much well received by the few people who actually listened to it. Soon after, they released an EP and a mixtape, and their sophomore effort, Brooklynati, came three years later.
I told you it would be brief.
Released a week before Method Man and Redman's Blackout! 2, Eminem's Relapse, and Back On My B.S. by Busta Rhymes, it's fairly obvious why Brooklynati was overlooked by so many. It may not help that this was crafted as a concept album, based around a fictional city they call Brooklynati (which, of course, is a fusion of the two cities that they hail from, but I'm assuming you already knew that). Those who were lucky enough to have already heard this album drew comparisons with older hip hop groups such as A Tribe Called Quest, and De La Soul, which is kinda like a big deal.
Now, let’s sauce this bitch up.
1. ON OUR WAY
Fuck rap album intros. After a brief bit of dialogue, we're hit with a beat that we can't help but like. The beat starts Brooklynati off in the right direction, the hook is surprisingly pleasant, and every verse is delivered well. If we keep getting songs like this throughout the album, you might have a new favorite hip hop group to listen to.
2. ALLEYE NEED (FEAT PIAKHAN)
This really isn't anything special. In fact, it’s kind of atrocious.
3. SO DAMN DOWN
This is the song that introduced me to Tanya Morgan in the first place. I ended up tracking down their entire discography, so that goes to show how flippin’ fantastic this is. If this review doesn't convince you into listening to the entire album, you should at least listen to this song.
4. BANG AND BOOGIE
I'll start off by saying that the instrumental on this song is simply brilliant. You'll find yourself laughing at a few of the humorous lyrics on this one. Great lyricism, great instrumental. What more can you ask for?
5. DON'T U HOLLA (FEAT JERMISIDE)
This is quite a change-up. I appreciate the daring effort, but the song itself isn’t very good.
6. HARDCORE GENTLEMEN
This leans more towards the hardcore than the gentlemen. Wu-Tang Clan fans will find a pleasant surprise within the lyrics of this song. This shit is nice overall.
7. PLAN B (FEAT NAPOLEON)
A pretty touching song. This is a better way of discovering who Tanya Morgan is, as it works much better than my brief description at the beginning of this post. As for the song: good stuff.
8. INTERMISSION (FEAT PETER HADAR)
Expands on the concept of the album some more. That's all I got. I mean, it is an intermission, after all.
9. SHE'S GONE (A/K/A WITHOUT YOU) (FEAT BRITTANY BOSCO & PHONTE)
A fucking fantastic song. These guys get their Common on, delivering a slower paced song where hip hop is metaphorically described as a woman. From the lyrics to the instrumental, this is brilliant. The last verse stood out to me the most.
10. NEVER 2NDARY (FEAT JERMISIDE, CHE GRAND, ELUCID, & SPEC BOOGIE)
I have no idea who the guest stars are, but they hold their own. Still a pretty ordinary song, though.
11. JUST NOT TRUE (FEAT BRICK BEATS)
Now this is much better. You can tell that the guys of Tanya Morgan are having some fun with their music, and as a result, the songs are entertaining to listen to. Whatever happened to that concept?
12. MORGAN BLU (FEAT BLU)
Blu, a respected rapper in his own right, appears, doing a good enough job that he could be considered the fourth member of Tanya Morgan, which is kind of like being the fifth Beatle or the tenth guy in the Wu-Tang Clan. A definite highlight of the album. Color me impressed.
13. NEVER ENOUGH (CRAZY LOVE) (FEAT CARLITTA DURAND)
One of my favorites on the album. This happy-go-lucky song will put anyone in a good mood. The singing was pretty okay, the verses were extremely entertaining, and the instrumental was enjoyable. Yet another highlight on the album.
14. WE'RE FLY (FEAT CHOP & KAY OF THE FOUNDATION)
My personal favorite song on Brooklynati. The word play on this song was unexpected and lyrically amazing, succeeding in a way that blew me away. Everyone I've showed this song to liked it right off the bat. I really don't know how anyone can dislike this song.
15. JUST ARRIVED (NOW WHAT?) (FEAT MISS INFO)
A clever way to end the album. We get the feeling that the members of Tanya Morgan don't want to end the album yet. They have a lot of talent to show to the public, but the album has to end eventually. A great way to wrap it up.
The album ends here, but we have a bonus track to cap off Brooklynati.
16. FORGOT 2 SAY
This is a damtastically great song, one which should have been placed on the original track list of the album, unless you think of this as kind of a encore of sorts. I keep thinking that I'm at a concert, and Tanya Morgan wraps the show up with "Just Arrived (Now What?)", and leave the stage. Seconds later, they come back out saying "Oh, by the way, we 'Forgot 2 Say'", and blam! This song starts playing.
FINAL THOUGHTS: I'm gonna be honest and say that I had completely given up on hip hop. All I could listen to was old albums from the 1980’s & 1990's, or new albums that artists from the 1980’s & 1990's were still putting out. While I still checked for some artists from the underground, I chose to ignore the new generation of rappers. I then discovered Tanya Morgan on another blog (not Max’s) , one which posted a review of Brooklynati, and it interested me enough to give it a spin. This is the album made me believe in hip hop again, which just shows how incredibly great this album is. New artists can still come up with some marvelous shit to keep our mouths watering.
BUY OR BURN? Buy this. It’ll make you believe again.
BEST TRACKS: “We’re Fly”; “So Damn Down”; “She’s Gone (a/k/a Without You)”; “Bang and Boogie”
(Thoughts? Comments? Frustrated that you didn't get a chance to review this first? I kind of am. Be sure to leave your comments below.)