Review: Tanya Morgan

Time Out Ratings :

<strong>Rating: </strong>4/5

Tanya Morgan's 2006 debut LP, Moonlighting, and subsequent 2008 EP, The Bridge, revealed the oddly named rap trio to be above-average practitioners of meat-and-potatoes hip-hop. But what the Brooklyn-Cincinnati group lacked on those releases was a distinctive aesthetic. On Brooklynati, Donwill, Ilyas and Von Pea have found just that in the form of the fictional hybrid city that lends the album its name.

While the faux town gives the MCs a rather large toy to play with, the story line—as with most hip-hop concept albums—comes and goes. It's for the best. The intermittent saga of "Hardcore Gentlemen" (an early-'90s rap crew still trying to live off of its lone 15-year-old hit) provides some laugh-out-loud moments, but the group's strong suit is not straight-up comedy so much as swift observations about regular old stuff.

On "Just Arrived," Donwill voices a gripe common among rappers and musicians these days, without sounding bitter: "As long as there's mixtapes, release dates is useless / Store, what for?/ I can get it if I google it." An abundance of these simultaneously earnest and sarcastic observations makes Brooklynati feel like an authentic document, even if the idea was just to conjure a fantasyland.

Tanya Morgan plays (Le) Poisson Rouge Thu 7 and the Anchor Tue 12.

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Brooklynati (Interdependent Media)