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Tanya Morgan
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Who is Tanya Morgan? Although the name evokes something of a neo-soul songstress, the music is overtly hip hop. Making matters even more complicated, this woman’s name is actually the pseudonym for a group of three male MCs. Not confused yet? Well try this on for size: Tanya Morgan is a group comprised of Von Pea and Ilwil (Ilyas and Donwill) - two totally separate acts. Now, relax that furrowed brow while I get you up to speed on the future of the culture.
Tanya Morgan was born in 2003 when MC/Producer Von Pea and MC Donwill decided to bloat their collaborative efforts into a full length album. With Ilyas locked in and along for the ride, the trio leaned on the production talent of Brickbeats (also known as Dave or Brick) to round out the other half of the album’s production. They began shuffling demos of songs back and forth as wav and mp3 files via AOL Instant Messenger© and email between takes on their other projects. Oh right. I forgot to mention that Von Pea lives in Brooklyn while both Ilwil and Brickbeats call Cincinnati home. They actually met online originally and didn’t meet in person until halfway through the album’s completion. There goes that brow again. I hope I’m not moving too fast for you.
Within the span of a year, the collective of four recorded all the material that would become their debut, Moonlighting. The tightly knit 13-song set is bound together by the story of a misled record shopper and his unwanted purchase. The album’s title is a nod to the fact that Tanya Morgan is really two acts in a group together who are, in a sense, moonlighting on their respective ‘jobs’ by working with each other. In promotion for this grand opening, the group has readied and released two projects: Sunlighting and the Sunset EP. The bandwidth busting download that is Sunlighting plays like a mixtape in a sense yet still showcases the group’s personality and presence while the Sunset EP boasts original production by Von Pea and Brickbeats, giving the listener a clearer view of what to expect with Moonlighting.
And what sound should one expect from three men who named their group after a fictitious woman? Expect the unexpected. There are no neo-soul, rap/r&b hybrid songs on the album. There is actually no crooning whatsoever. There is cursing - sometimes, but not the cursing just to be cursing. Cursing more like ensuring the ignorant listeners hear it. It is the sound of a non-violent M.O.P. who took charm classes at the Handsome Boy Modeling School and had to record an album over the beats that class professor Madlib thought twice about using for their final exam. Lyrically the three saturate their clever content with enough personality to push the listener through songs at rewind button-breaking speeds. Tanya Morgan has, in effect, dubbed their sound “Running Man Music”, and that descriptor is two fold. When the BPMs aren’t cranked up to a pitch frenetic enough to induce the dance itself, the emotion evoked by the music is enough to remind the listener of a time when Hip Hop was urgent. The album is a clever tongue-in-cheek look at what it means to be a consumer in today’s single-driven market where the album format is slowly dissolving altogether.|
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