Tanya Morgan :: Brooklynati
Author: Pedro 'DJ Complejo' Hernandez
Brooklynati is a mythical place and a concept album. Tanya Morgan is a group named after a woman. The group has garnered and maintained quite a following since its birth years ago on the OkayPlayer.com message board. It was only natural that the group would become an internet media darling, representing all the hopes and dreams of the countless bloggers and internet collaborators who hope that a little internet game won't kill their hip-hop credibility. For every internet rapper hoping Tanya Morgan blows up, there are two internet pundits hoping they just blow. Let's face it, whether it be jealousy or too much time on their hands, people like to see failure just as much as they like to see success. As much as hip-hop has grown, there are those that try to stick to the old ways where the internet doesn't exist and real hip-hop can only be created in the streets. To them Tanya Morgan is Officer Ricky 2.0, something that is as real as the outcome of a fantasy sports league. Tanya Morgan can do no wrong. Tanya Morgan can do no right. So Tanya Morgan does neither.
How does Tanya Morgan avoid doing right or wrong? Simple really, they create their own world. This world is named Brooklynati and it is fake and real all at the same time. It is what you might get if Brooklyn and Cincinnati were joined. It is what you get when a producer from Brooklyn and two emcees from Cincinnati decide to keep as real as real can get and do their own thing. "Brooklynati" oscillates between reality and imagination quite well and ends up being something quite unique and enjoyable. "On Our Way" reflects the real struggles of a rap group trying to make it in a cold industry:
"I've been feeling like Manute Bol when the roof too low
The box they put us in ain't big enough for me to grow
Out of this world, call me Pluto, but not a dog like you know
Who, but my new vogue crew gets kudos
Cause money moving too slow and we too close
To move to and fro, bout pursuing those
Toilet bowls and super bowls
True troopers go for broke, to the hilt
Like a midget on stilts
Like if I ain't bomb with it it can be built
Life made me lactose intolerant, quit crying over spilt milk
I miss the people hollering, I'm trying to bring some dollars in
But ducking women that blow kisses through their collagen and
Like their lips I'm trying to blow, not suck but up
And you away, these my thoughts of the day by the way"
The honesty in that track is contrasted by the utter satire and humor found in "Hardcore Gentlemen" where the crew mocks hardcore music as Masta Ace did years ago on his "Slaughterhouse" LP. The crew is quick to get back to the honesty and sincerity with "Plan B" where they reflect on where they were when the rap game wasn't popping up for them. You even get a few cuts where the crew doesn't even really bother to be real or fake and instead decide to just be. Such is the case on "Morgan Blu" where the group is joined by rapper Blu and do what underground rappers like to do which is make a song about nothing more than hip-hop and how well they happen to make such music.
"Brooklynati" is a success for what it is and it is all that it could be given what it once was. To break that down, as far as concept albums go "Brooklynati" generally is successful. The concept is not kept as seamlessly as it should have been, but at the same time it isn't adhered to the point of robbing the music of its universal appeal. For what was both an over-hyped and over-criticized album before it was even made, "Brooklynati" both manages to hold and fall short of expectations. Is it a classic? Far from it. Is it a failure? Far from it. It is an extremely well produced album with good emceeing. It is a unique experience as it should be. It is what music should be sometimes – an escape. It is what hip-hop has always been – a reminder that you can only escape for so long.
Music Vibes: 8.5 of 10
Lyric Vibes: 7.5 of 10
TOTAL Vibes: 8 of 10
Originally posted: May 12, 2009