When someone tells you that you should check out an album by Tanya Morgan, most hip hop heads would respond “I don’t wanna hear no R&B music! I want Hip-Hop!” Well fortunately Tanya Morgan isn’t an R&B singer, but an actual group comprised of three emcees. Their back story can be rather confusing, but in a nutshell it goes a little something like this. Two different acts (Von Pea and Ilwil) linked up back in 2003 (a la Phonte and Nicolay’s Foreign Exchange effort), exchanging files via AIM and email, and together chose the name Tanya Morgan. The name is supposed to be a pseudonym for a group of three male emcees. Too confusing? Whatever? It’s no big deal because their debut album, Moonlighting, speaks for itself.
Moonlighting is an interesting album tied together by skits of the tape being passed off to different people with an absolute misunderstanding of what Tanya Morgan is. No matter the confusion, Tanya Morgan lays it on real heavy in an era where rap music and garbage have become synonymous for over half the artists out here making money. To get an idea where Tanya Morgan stands in this sea of aspiring hip hoppers, check out “Ode To Tanya” where the three emcees (Von Pea, Ilyas and Donwil) are homies, but incessantly dis each other to win the allure of Ms. Tanya Morgan. It’s quite humorous, but incredibly dope in both concept and execution. And that’s pretty much what Moonlighting is all about.
From the production side of things, Brickbeats and Von Pea do a stellar job of providing everything from soulful (“Ode To Tanya”) to boom bap (“Pretty”) backdrops. The production does exactly what it was supposed to do; it lends the perfect setting for Tanya Morgan to act out their brand of Hip Hop. “Take The L (Get It)” is a barnburner of a beat as the three emcees trade rhymes and just seem like they have a great deal of fun doing it.
As emcees, it’s easy to see that Tanya Morgan don’t take themselves too seriously, which definitely does today’s “I’m harder than you” Hip Hop some justice. When you hear joints like “Cause I Got Locks” where Ilyas tackles the numerous stereotypes that come with having dreads amidst a reggae track, you know that these guys are on some off brand humor shit. As a matter of fact, it seems that the trio loves to poke fun at everything. “Rough U Up” is a comical stab at emcees who are just too damn tough for their own good. These dudes can spit though. “Hooks” and “Paper Thin” provide just enough lyrical punch to ensure that their madness is defined by a method.
Moonlighting is just one of those albums that are needed in a time where the world is just too damn serious. Some hardcore heads may not receive the wit and humor of Tanya Morgan as they would the constant hugging the block of Young Jeezy, but that’s expected. Some folks just can’t crack a smile within their stone face and there are tons upon tons of hip hop out there for them. But for those of us who like to lighten up after catching a few episodes of The Boondocks, Robot Chicken and Family Guy, this album is for you.
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