Album Review: Tanya Morgan – Brooklynati (2009)
Rating: 4 out of 5 Potholes
It’s possible you may have missed the city of Brooklynati the last time you glanced at Googlemaps, but those who have been paying attention to the music of hip hop trio Tanya Morgan since their inception in 2003 probably have a good grasp on what the score is. Their third official release, Brooklynati represents a step forward for group members Von Pea, Donwill, and Illyas; it’s their most endearing and focused effort yet, weaving together a creative collection of breezy songs into a concept album that’s as much about a fictional city as it is their collective state-of-mind.
Part of the group’s appeal has always been the loose approach that they bring to their music. Those looking for a pristine mix and club-ready soundscapes need not pass through Brooklynati. Similarly, the members’ mic skills are devoid of the typical accoutrements of 2009 like ‘swag’ and the adoption of some crazy exaggerated cartoon personality type. What we’ve got here is regular dude rap – not that there’s anything wrong with that.
With that lack of overblown pizzazz comes the true appeal of Tanya Morgan – genuine personality. It turns out there can be a happy medium somewhere between overblown caricature and snooze-inducing emcee, and these guys know that’s their ace in the hole. Whether it’s tales of humility amidst the absurdity of the rap game (“So Damn Down,” “Don’t U Holla”) to reflections on what this hip hop thing is all about (“Plan B” and the Phonte-assisted “Without U”), all three emcees possess a fun chemistry that keeps the entire album interesting.
In an age when ‘keeping it real’ has become a punchline to a played-out joke, Tanya Morgan wins by effortlessly injecting authenticity into their music – and that’s real.