So there is this girl, right, and her name is Tanya Morgan, right, and she is like – wait, what? No. Tanya Morgan isn’t a girl. Tanya Morgan is the brainchild of a couple very talented dudes, one of which I recently had the opportunity to interview, and he goes by the name Von Pea. In this interview he delves into such topics as what he doesn’t love so much about hip hop and the music industry in general (and even though he worries he might sound bitter, he doesn’t, he just sounds like a man with a legitimate bone to pick), what’s up next for Tanya Morgan, and why he’s more inspired than influenced by other musicians. Enjoy!
So – if it’s possible, for people who apparently don’t, you know, listen to music, and somehow don’t know, tell me who you are, where you’re from, and a little about what you do.
Von Pea. I’m from Brooklyn NY. Donwill is from Cincinatti Ohio, and we are the two artists that make up a group called Tanya Morgan. I would say we’re both creative people that got known for this instance of our creativity, which is hip hop. Our sound lineage is Native Tongue but for those that really know, their sound wasn’t one thing and ours isn’t either once you dig into it.
For someone who might be reading this but really hasn’t started to fuck with you yet, give me a brief break down of where we might have heard you before – albums, collabs, etc.
Various Little Brother related joints “Von Sees” from Foreign Exchange, “A Word From Our Sponsors” from the LB/Mick Boogie mixtape, “Streets of Music” from 9th Wonder “The Wonder Years” album, there are some Drake bootlegs out there from when we worked together in 2007. For the record we didn’t leak those, but I know some more mainstream fans have heard of us from there. We have that “Cuddle Bums” track with 88 Keys that’s a classic joint. I guess other people know “Morgan Blu” but to be honest if they don’t know that stuff already they might as well get with the new shit because we don’t sound like back then anymore anyways.
How do you define yourself? …by that I mean, whatever you take from it.
Responsible. I always try to be realistic in my music and give what really happened as a conclusion in a timeline. I lied and said enough outlandish shit when I was rapping in high school then that wasn’t fun anymore. I can be held accountable for 99.9% of my lyrics…the full truth may get stretched a little at times but that’s because I say things for my friends who don’t rap too.
My favorite rapper of all time is probably Black Thought, who, as you know, is forever dubbed the most underrated rapper of all time. I kind of feel like you guys have a similar reputation – in that you’re criminally underrated. Do you agree with that? Talk to me about it.
Sometimes I agree, and sometimes I say ‘hey maybe we just don’t have the crazy back story’ or whatever. When you’re about your music in a time that isn’t just about the music, then you’re not gonna keep everyone’s attention. That only works for a while if you’re new, or if you stay mysterious. We’re not brand new or mysterious. At this point I think more about making better music than I have before…that’s my #1 focus beyond anything. After a while it’s just going to be impossible to deny. I really feel like we’re still in KMD mode and you didn’t even get DOOM yet.
So, you went from three to two. …if you want to talk about that, feel free. But I’m more interested in how the two of you keep continuity? Everyone is an artist, and sensitive about their shit – how do you make it work? How will you keep it working, long term?
All 3 of us are just friends that do music and went into business with each other. I care more about remaining cool with these guys than anything business related and the music is there as well as the support of solo shit. I think Wu Tang is so Ill because they all have their own careers and they support each other, and even when its a conflict it looks like brothers mad at each other for a while. We always hung out on some friend shit more than we made music together and that’s how it keeps working.
Let’s talk about Rubber Souls. It had so a great feel all the way through. The production was so, I don’t know how to express it beyond saying, optimistic. It sounded, well, happy, even though I feel like the content was to be taken seriously, which is hard to do. Was it what you thought it would be? Did it accomplish what you wanted it to accomplish?
I can look at Rubber Souls as super slept on because I watched it as a fan more than working on it as an accomplice. I went into it like I was a part…almost like Snoop would go and be apart of a Dre album. Its my album too but I’m watching 6th Sense and following his lead. The music on there is crazy. I feel like a lot of our other stuff can be seen as an acquired taste but Id play some of those Rubber Souls joints for anybody in the world with confidence. Its more universal, and that’s why its disappointing that more people haven’t given it a chance. We weren’t trying to change, we were out to be broader than usual. I say everyone should go listen to it today and really listen.
How’ve you evolved from Sunset or Moonlighting til now, Rubber Souls?
My girl had her music on shuffle the other day and “So Sweet” came on. I cringed through the whole song. I understand that in MY mind we’re way better than that, but for other people there are intangibles there, or memories, so that’s always going to be their favorite shit. Moonlighting still sounds dope to me as well as Brooklynati, but I’m hard on myself. That’s what actually makes my parts on Rubber Souls hard to listen to, because I couldn’t go back and keep changing lines or delivery 100 times like I usually do. I love that its all in the moment on RS though. That album is a big accomplishment and I’m proud of it.
What’s next for Tanya Morgan?
Donwill has an EP called Don Speaks coming before the summer and we have our new album “You Get What You Pay For” coming out by the Fall. It’s kind of a mixture of all of our albums…the title doesn’t mean exactly what people think it means though. That will be explained later. I have another solo later too and Don does too that I’ll be doing some production on, but right now its focus on finishing his EP and the new group LP.
Who else influenced you? To start, and currently.
Anyone can Google me and those influences will pop up. …currently I’m more inspired by people than influenced. What I mean is, I admire people’s presentation, but I try not to be influenced anymore because I want to have my own style. I admire how Beyonce just did it, but on a smaller scale, Dom Kennedy dropped OGDK out of nowhere, if I’m not mistaken, and that was fly to me then too. I see things that Kanye does as fearless. I was inspired by all of the songs that DIDN’T end up on Good Kid Maad City, because that showed me how you can still drop these songs you want to drop around an album, but they don’t have to be forced/shoehorned into the album. Sometimes dope shit just doesn’t fit the album, and realizing it can still come out without being on there was something that didn’t make sense to me til then. I like how Donald Glover used all of his talents to promote Because The Internet in a creative way.
Who are you listening to now?
Obsessing over yet to be released TM/solo music as usual. Audio Push, Jamla, Childish Gambino, Step Brothers (Alchemist & Evidence), Roc Marciano, Schoolboy Q, and I pulled out some old shit.
How do you feel about the internet age of hip hop? What’s it like being an artist, in this day and age where everyone thinks they’re a rapper and/or producer?
I think everyone thinks they are a celebrity, or minutes away from becoming one on the internet now. That’s more of an issue than everyone doing music – to me anyway. I think everyone should do something creative and you never know, the illest beat ever might come from some stay at home mom playing around on garage band.
What’s your biggest pet peeve about the music industry?
I probably sound bitter and shit in this interview – but I don’t like that it’s usually not about music and more about celebrity. We’ve all saw someone that was just aight, but looked a certain way, and had a certain personality, and said, “oh they about to blow”. I like when they’re actually dope too, but that doesn’t always happen. Don’t get me wrong though, you can be talented and boring. I’ve absolutely made skillful shit that was boring.
What’s something you’ve always wanted to be asked in an interview?
Where they can listen to the new album before buying it? Please stream us on Spotify or wherever you stream music, and if you like it, please come see us on the road, or cop something from the tanyamorgan.bandcamp, or wherever you buy music.
What do you love about hip hop? Hate about it?
There’s a lot to love, but I hate that some of the street shit gets thrown under the hip hop umbrella. The Pac/Big deaths was street shit, they didn’t die while rapping. R&B singers get called rappers when they get arrested and that’s bullshit – that has nothing to do with hip hop. I don’t like when people do lazy shit and say “that’s hip hop!” Nah, you just didn’t hone your skills. I don’t like how certain rappers won’t be considered a part of hip hop because of their skill level or perceived intelligence level. There’s good shit and bad shit, but it’s all a part of hip hop to me. If only good rappers are MCs then who are the “wack MCs” we keep rapping about? Sometimes, as fans, we all get too snobby. Either that, or we do the ironic thing where we ONLY listen to “ignorant” shit. I love the expression of art from us poor kids though. At the base that’s what it is for me, the kids that didn’t have much, but made a way, through their own ways of art and sound collages. It’s that forever for me.
Tell me a secret.
I’d love to, but then it wouldn’t be a secret anymore.
What do you want people to know about this weird girl named Tanya Morgan? …but no, really.
I’ve answered this before and I always feel weird about my answer for some reason. As if the answer is too wide-eyed most of the time: “I want them to know we gave it our best!”
I just want people to really listen and not just skim with their arms folded like we’re trying out for space in their iTunes. Really listen to it, and break down what’s being said, what’s between the lines, the beats, all that. Then you’ll know everything you need to know, and you’ll want to know more!