11:35pm, the Independent
Tanya Morgan's members found one another in the unlikeliest of places.
"We were all frequenting OkayPlayer.com pretty regularly," remembers Donwill, who hails from Cincinnati, Ohio, and was making music with fellow 'Nati rapper Ilyas when he first started swapping music files with New York City rapper/producer Von Pea. "We all had this passion for home recording – not some 'stick it to the man' shit, but because we were broke. If we could download a pirated version of Fruityloops to make a beat and record some vocals, that's dope. We could make some shit that sounds incredible that way and send it over the Internet."
There was one glaring problem. In a genre in which artists thrive on representing their cities, Tanya Morgan had no true city to call its own. Morgan's solution was to write its second album, Brooklynati, which functions as a hip-hop utopia with parks named after J Dilla. With odes to the novelty of record release dates and fundraisers for struggling record stores, Brooklynati harks back to the early 1990s golden age of hip-hop.
"For us the imaginary city was the realest thing in the world," expounds Donwill. "We tried to fill that imaginary city with real life stories, our stories. So when you listen to a story about us trying to make it in this fictional city, you're hearing actual things that happened to us.
"It's a flip from having a rapper who won't stop talking about how he's smoking the most weed, sipping the most syrup, having the most bitches, driving the biggest car. That's not real. We flipped it so we have an imaginary city where I quit my job to do music and we're opening for bigger acts. Isn't that how it really happens?"