Who is Tanya Morgan? Many would assume a neo-soul or R&B artist, but in fact Tanya Morgan is exactly the opposite. Comprised of three male MC’s: Von Pea, Don Will and Ilyas, Tanya Morgan is the full embodiment of Hip-Hop before the commercialism. Lyrical truths, solid deliveries and catchy beats makes this group a favorite among the underground rap scene. With refreshing originality, Tanya Morgan is taking the rap game to new heights.
Clutch: Who is Tanya Morgan?
Don Will of Tanya Morgan: Tanya Morgan is comprised of east coast mc/producer Von Pea and the Midwestern duo Ilwil (donwill+ilyas) we consider ourselves as a Hip-Hop supergroup of sorts because we both had a foothold in the game prior to becoming a group and also plan on doing work apart from the group as our original entities.
Clutch: How did the group meet and eventually decide to work on this project?
Don Will of Tanya Morgan: Well, I had known ilyas from college, and our bond was mc’ing and making music. I met Von Pea online, and we traded our work back and forth and decided that we wanted to collaborate with each other. We had a nice chemistry and when we decided to do a project he requested that ilyas join the team since me and ilyas are already a group.
Clutch: What emcees have inspired you?
Don Will of Tanya Morgan: So many, honestly almost too many to give a good answer to this question but if I had to track it back I remember looking up to Too Short more than anybody. When I heard “Life Is Too Short” and saw him on tv it just sorta clicked, and that’s when I remember writing my first rhyme. Being from the Midwest some of my biggest influences were southern and west coast artists like Geto Boyz and the Rap-A-Lot groups, DJ Quik and the Skanless Crew, N.W.A. and that whole ruthless records roster and 2 Live Crew. But groups like X Clan and Public Enemy also had a huge impact.
Clutch: What unique qualities do each of you bring to the table that makes Tanya Morgan the movement it is now?
Don Will of Tanya Morgan: Well, if I had to peg a trait to each member I’d say this:
Von Pea: he of course brings the beats and a lot of the lyrical wit. Me and him do a lot of the art direction for the group. He is the music nut in the group, I’d say he is the backpacker if I had to generalize.
Ilyas: he is just flat out a lyrical monster, and he also does a lot with our stage show and how that comes together. He is the extreme artist in the group; he knows no bounds and can do any style of music he chooses very well.
Donwill: I am like the ground wire, the glue. I deal a lot with song structure, concepts and art direction. I’m labeled as the hater, I don’t give a lot of stuff a chance and I go a lot on first impressions. And I listen to a lot of commercial radio stuff.
Clutch: How did your affiliation with Okayplayer.com come about?
Don Will of Tanya Morgan: I was introduced to the site in ’99 by a friend of mine, and since then I just never left. Von pea has been there since the beginning also. I was drawn to it because of the level of interaction that is fostered there amongst artists and their fans. It’s just a place we always hang out at our affiliation is just as posters for the most part. We are always there just coolin out and shootin the shit postin up random nonsense or discussing music.
Clutch: IlWill (Ilyas & Don Will) and Brickbeats reside in Cincinnati, while Von Pea calls Brooklyn home. How does the distance play in your working relationship?
Don Will of Tanya Morgan: Well, I have since relocated to Brooklyn. And even though me and Von live like six blocks from each other we still work the same way sometimes. It’s familiar and a lot about convenience. We record together a lot more often now though, Ilyas is still emailing verses. Me and Ilyas have to be in the same room to record becuase that’s how we started, and the competition factor is higher when we are sitting side by side tryna outdo each other, but Von and us kinda go together separately so we are just kinda accustomed to being in our separate bubbles working as Tanya morgan.
Clutch: Your debut album, Moonlighting is considered to be a concept album. What exactly is the concept behind it?
Don Will of Tanya Morgan: The concept is two-fold. One Ilwil and Von Pea are moonlighting on their jobs as a group and solo artist to be this entity named Tanya Morgan; that’s where the name comes from. But the musical concept is that of a listener who purchases an lp and hastily gives the tape away to a person who he thinks may enjoy it more after a few songs of material that he doesn’t like. But the next song that plays is the song that would have made him like the album. Like he JUST missed his chance to enjoy the lp cus he didn’t give it enough time to get to his jam.
Clutch: And how does the Moonlighting cassette tape play into the album?
Don Will of Tanya Morgan: The moonlighting cassette is what is being passed around on the skits. Okay, this may be confusing but the album is about the cassette. We actually pressed up some cassettes, and on the cassette there are no skits just the songs in the sequence as they appear on the cd. So, the cassette does exist but on the cd the same song set plays just interrupted by the skits.
Clutch: What is the concept behind your follow up albums, Sunlighting and Sunset?
Don Will of Tanya Morgan: Those albums actually preceded Moonlighting. On a surface level the sun has to go down before the moon comes up. So after we did moonlighting we were like we need something to introduce ourselves with, and we had all these lil mixtape cuts laying around, and we decided to just make a mixtape for free download. Just as a way of generating interest in the group as mc’s. Then we recorded sunset to get people accustomed to Von’s and Brick’s production sound. We released it as digital only because there is no manufacturing cost associated and we used the money for the cassettes and to kinda fund Moonlighting a lil bit.
Clutch: There is an element to Hip-Hop music that is missing. In your opinion, what has been lost, and how can we get it back?
Don Will of Tanya Morgan: I think the balance is lost. Media outlets are representing one side of the genre, and its basically because that’s the side that’s generating the money. Also the balance in the artists material is gone. Where as Big Saddy Kane could do a club joint, a joint with a message, a lyrical joint, a joint for the ladies etc, artists nowadays pick one of those lanes and stay in it. It’s just the balance in general. I don’t think there is a catchall remedy though. The listeners and fans can begin by supporting music that they know is overlooked by the gatekeepers. They can sell you what you don’t want if you don’t tell them what you do want.
Clutch: What is your vision of Hip-Hop in the future?
Don Will of Tanya Morgan: Hip-Hop in the future will be like Hip-Hop in the past. It’s always been the same, it’s just where are you lookin to get it. It’s not on the radio, it’s not on the tv… well, it’s there if you’re lookin for the coopted version. But you know it’s the same thing as it was ten years ago. I guess in the future we are gonna see a wider range of age demographics being represented when they figure out that market. Hip-Hop is not that old so we haven’t made it to the point where we could have a U2 or an Elton john or Beetles of Hip-Hop. But it’s coming…
Clutch: I know that you all have individual projects that you are working on, but what can we expect from Tanya Morgan in the future?
Don Will of Tanya Morgan: Well, aside from Ilwil’s BEAT THIEVES 2, right now we are working on the sophomore lp BROOKLYNATI which we plan on dropping in late 2008. I know that seems like a long time but I feel like a lot of artists don’t give there albums room to breathe you know? We are releasing a project prior to that probably in early ’08/late ’07 that we are calling BRIDGE TO BROOKLYNATI that will consist of a lot of songs we perform but you can’t formally purchase together, so we are packaging them together. That and we are hitting the road with Zion I and Blu+Exile for a pretty extensive national tour.