When I began Birthplace Magazine, and was scouting the “new breed” of New York hip hop, one of the very first shows I went to was at Southpaw, in Brooklyn. It was a small affair, held in the “downstairs” part of the club, a lounge area if you will, and there weren’t that many people there, but the ones that were, were hip hop heads through and through.
One of the acts that night (where I met a few others who have also progressed in the game ever since, i.e., Donny Goines, 6th Sense), was Tanya Morgan. The (then) three-man group took to the floor with an energy and aura that reminded me of A Tribe Called Quest or De La Soul, with dope beats, clever wordplay and great interaction with the group of onlookers. They were at once nostalgic and progressive.
I didn’t know much about them at the time, but I remember thinking this was an early exclamation point to my assertion that New York hip hop was indeed live and well.
Since then, through releases such as Brooklynati and Moonlighting, as well as solo projects each (Donwill’s Don Cusack In High Fidelity and Von Pea’s Pea’s Gotta Have It), Tanya Morgan has found ways to continue to be innovative, while holding true to a purist hip hop vibe.
Having since become a duo (Cincinatti-based Ilyas no longer an active member), Don Will and Von Pea are hoping to continue their streak of solid, conceptual and acclaimed music, while making sure to demonstrate evolution. “The EP is a natural progression, in that it blends the production sounds that you heard on our solo albums into one cohesive set of songs,” says Donwill. “We also were conscious of people noticing that the trio is now a duo, so we wanted to ensure that this and all future projects have a different sound and feel than Brooklynati and Moonlighting.”
Whatever the plan is, it works, and You And What Army is simply a great sounding, early Christmas present for longtime TM fans and newcomers alike.
You And What Army can be listened to and purchased at the group’s Bandcamp page, with appearances by Exile, Napoleon, Che Grand, Jermiside, AEON and Tiffany Paige, and production by Von Pea, AEON, Astronote, Brizzo and Exile.