It’s been an eventful seven years since Cincinnati MCs Donwill and Ilyas forged an alliance with Brooklyn MC Von Pea to form the renowned Hop Hop group Tanya Morgan. The unit came together in 2003 when Donwill and Von Pea, who had collaborated after meeting on okayplayer.com, decided to record a full-length album together.
Ilyas and Donwill were already busting beats as Ilwill, so it was hardly a stretch for Ilyas to throw in on the new group. With Donwill and Ilyas here in town and Von Pea in New York, the trio utilized AOL Instant Messenger to exchange files and write the songs on the first Tanya Morgan album, 2006’s acclaimed Moonlighting.
The threesome had already garnered a good deal of positive attention with their online mix-tape Sunlighting and the original EP Sunset. The release of Moonlighting was met with even greater enthusiasm, earning raves from XXL, The Source and Wax Poetics.
Tanya Morgan’s profile has risen steadily ever since. The trio’s video for “We Be” won MTVu’s Freshman of the Week contest in the summer of 2006 and the Show Us What You Got Hip Hop Artist Competition in Las Vegas the following fall. In 2008, Tanya Morgan cranked out another great mix-tape (Tanya Morgan Is a Rap Group) and EP (The Bridge), which were just appetizers for the group’s brilliant sophomore full-length, last year’s conceptual Brooklynati.
Ostensibly a song cycle — punctuated with spoken word interludes — about a typical day in the life of the fictional locale, Brooklynati captured the imagination of reviewers across the board, with great notices from The Onion (which called the album “a sonic wonderland”), XLR8R, PopMattersTime Out NewYork. and
Earlier this year, Donwill released his excellent solo debut, Don Cusack in High Fidelity (yes, it’s a Hip Hop take on the Nick Hornby book/John Cusack film), but right now the focus is on a place called Brooklynati and its most talented residents, a trio of Hip Hop provocateurs known as Tanya Morgan. Load it into your GPS and drop by for a visit; you might just want to put down roots here.
(Buy tickets, check out performance times and get venue details here.)