Category Archives: Music & Poetry

23Feb/18
Janelle Monae new videos

Janelle Monae New Videos = Visual Fire

Janelle Monae New VideosThe Janelle Monae new videos are visual fire. Both giving different moods with the same Janelle mastery. Django Jane is empowering and strong with a nod to women rappers of the 90s. Make Me Feel is flirty and fun with blatant Prince influence (and others, but only Prince is relevant, particularly when referencing Janelle) featuring Tessa Thompson.

Preorder her upcoming album, Dirty Computer, which is slated to release on April 27th, or download both songs if you can’t wait that long here: JanelleMonae.lnk.to/dirtycomputer

Enough talking, just watch and tell us your thoughts in the comments!

21Feb/18

The Love of Hip Hop With DJ Dummy

DJ Dummy

DJ Dummy with Common (Left), Pharrell (Middle).

Black history month is a celebration of Black culture for centuries and one of the biggest links to Black culture is Hip Hop. Hip Hop has given artists the ability to express themselves or use Hip Hop as a commentary on social issues in the form of art. If Hip Hop is a canvas, DJ’s are like brushes that blend the colors of sound and voice to create beautiful portraits. DJ Dummy is one of those artists that brings an eclectic flair to his work; he is talented enough to masterfully capture the essence of a Henry Ossawa Tanner painting and recreate the artistic imaginings of a Faith Ringgold in his works of art. He is able to adapt and create in the world of Hip Hop sounds that are both palatable to ear and enriching to the soul. Taji Mag had the chance to interview the ageless, musical virtuoso to discuss his journey and his love of Hip Hop.

What influenced you to become a DJ?

DJ Dummy: “I was surrounded by DJ’s. My father is a DJ, my brother (DJ LS1) is a DJ. I also had uncles and three cousin’s that were also DJ’s. Going back to the 80’s, I used to go the park and DJ’s would have their equipment out and I am watching these guys, seeing that they were doing things that my father wasn’t doing. All my father did was mix two records together to continuously keep the beat going and now I’m seeing these guys in the park, they are scratching, making the record double. I was like, ‘this is something different!’ So that’s what made me want to get into it. I was 8 years old at the time and I knew I was going to DJ.”

You’ve performed at the White House, almost all of the late night shows, NBA All-Star games, and Dave Chappelle’s Block Party. You cover pretty much everything! How are getting all of these nice gigs?

DJ Dummy: I’ve been with the right people and I can honestly say that. I’ve been with Common for the last 17 years and I can’t take anything away from that man. He has put me in such amazing places. I get to shine [and] walk away with people knowing my name. I owe a lot of those experiences to Common. Because of him, I have performed at the White House three times!

What are your top three favorite gigs?

DJ Dummy in action.

DJ Dummy: I change the order of them all the time but… When I got to perform at the White House it was out of this world. First of all, it was President Barack Obama’s first party at the White House, this was the biggest thing ever. The fact that the President and the First Lady were partying with us was great! Secret Service was there but they weren’t crowding them. Barrack was in the middle of the dance floor partying with his guests. You have to think, this was our first Black president, we didn’t think we would ever have a Black president. That’s what was going through our minds as guests as we partied with him.

 

The next big gig was the Dave Chappelle Block Party. I tell people that you may have seen the DVD but you weren’t there! It was amazing and so great! First of all, to be in Brooklyn and to have all those artists on one stage with artist like Kanye, Jill Scott, Erykah Badu, Common, The Roots, Mos Def, Talib Kweli, and the Fugees was awesome! I tell people that you don’t know what that meant for Hip Hop that night! There were so many other artists that jumped on stage that they didn’t put in the movie. It started at 10 am and didn’t end until midnight. It was like our Hip Hop Woodstock! It rained all day and we still rocked! I really, really loved that night! There were no fights or anything it was all about the music.

My next big event was the first time I performed at Madison Square Garden. That was a big moment for me. I never thought I would be performing there. Here I am, in my hometown, where I was born and raised. but there I was on the stage performing. I was doing the opening set with Common. During the set, I had a 5-minute solo and after I was done, the crowd went bananas and if I would’ve blinked I would’ve cried. It got no better than that!

Tell me about a few other famous artists that you have worked with?

DJ Dummy: Queen Latifah, every time she calls me I am always available. I love working with her. She is such an amazing person and she has a great personality. I respect her more than I respect Oprah, no discredit to Oprah because she isn’t my Hip Hop era. Latifah came straight out of Jersey and to be the woman that she is in Hollywood, you have to be proud of her.

DJ Dummy with Queen Latifah

J.Cole taught me about putting out great work, like whole albums and not just singles. Each of his albums are full stories. Like the album J.Cole: Sideline Story was about him trying to break into the music industry or his album Born Sinner which was about him making it big but making so many mistakes. His approach to music is if the radio picks it up as a single, OK, but if he is in the studio he is not trying to make a single because that is not what he is about.

With Alicia Keys, I felt like I was working with God’s angels. I just kept thinking, ‘Is this person really this nice?’ I had to keep asking myself because she is so amazing. As soon as she walks in a room, the whole room lights up. She just brings that energy with her. If you are in the studio and you make a mistake, she would look at you with an amazing smile and say ‘Oh it’s ok, let’s just do it again.’ She is just an amazing person.

Why do you love Hip Hop?

DJ Dummy: I grew up in Brooklyn, NY in the late 70’s and early 80’s. All I heard was disco music played by my parents. Like Motown from that era, I loved music from there. Then when I heard somebody rapping these words over one of my fathers’ old records, I was like ‘Hey that’s Good Times but they are actually doing some raps over it!’ It grabbed me like holy cow! I was thinking this is was something we could relate to. It wasn’t about shaking your booty or love, this rap was about how we were talking growing up in the streets. It was just something we could relate to. Not saying we couldn’t relate to disco, disco was just there at the time. Once I heard groups like Sugarhill Gang, Grandmaster Flash, and the Cold Crush Brothers rapping over my fathers’ old records, it was the best of both worlds. Then there used to be jams outside of the park where the DJ would bring out the big bottom bass speakers and he would have control of the crowd that consisted of break dancers and other people dancing. That was Hip Hop. The music wasn’t Hip Hop, the whole environment was Hip Hop. That is when and why I fell in love with Hip Hop.

When it comes to Hip Hop, DJ Dummy truly exemplifies the quote, “To find joy in work, is to discover the fountain of youth.”

Make sure to look check out DJ Dummy’s tour schedule for performances near you and pick up his collaborative hit album “Vintage Babies” with Maimouna Youssef.

12Feb/18
Young MA discusses fame weight loss

Hip Hop Star Young M.A discusses fame, weight loss, and more on Made From Scratch *Video*

Young MA discusses fame weight lossThe new digital series, Made From Scratch, gives viewers a taste of what music’s hottest artists are like when they step outside of the studio and into the kitchen. In the premiere episode, rapper Young M.A invites us into her home as she and her grandmother, G Mac, cook up the family favorites M.A misses when she’s on the road. With spice as the main ingredient, the two open up about Young M.A’s life before becoming a platinum-selling rapper, her introduction to music (queue 50 Cent’s Get Rich or Die Trying), M.A’s commitment to controlling her own identity and more. Young M.A also opens up about her recent weight loss and what prompted her to cut out the junk food on the road.

03Oct/17
Fragmented Afrika

Poetic Justice | Fragmented Afrika by Ogechi Anokwuru

Fragmented Afrika

A continent of immense wealth and stealth

What caused this great continent to lose its health?

The motherland stripped of its beauty and glory,

How did the leaders turn out so bloody and gory?

This story is not just a folktale, this is history,

A continent of many countries with many great states and empires

Overthrown by greedy dirty devil vampires.

We call it imperialism, the greed, the hate,

The constant elimination of genetic and social annihilation of this great continent,

The rulers seem ever so blind to their incompetence.

The colonists knew what they had in mind,

Made a race blind,

They were never so kind to the evil that awaits within the supremacists’ mind.

It was all a great find easy pickings for them,

Hard labour pon di plantations, building up a whole new nation

After a genocide and massacre of a previous nation.

Robbed and stolen from the motherland Afrika,

Tears of bloodshed that lay among the dead, which were hardly fed

While the slave master lay comfortably in his bed.

Gun to the head,

While some slaves fled,

Terror runs through their head as they don’t wanna end up lynched and left for dead.

Oh fragmented Afrika, divided an conquered

Left to be dishonoured,

My land was a piece of cake and these fat devils just sat and ate

And continued to take and make

And had the cheek to bring us Christianity as a means to save humanity!

Can’t you see the fallacy, the lies and the travesty?

This indeed was a great tragedy,

The second holocaust

After the 1st holocaust of the Native Americans,

Let’s not forget they were the true Americans.

The third holocaust was the Jewish holocaust.

The 4th holocaust is the Palestinian holocaust…

Tragically we just watch and see the same what was inevitably done to you and me.

Afrika needs to unite and fight like how we used to be, kings and queens of our own destinies.

Justice and free for all, fair wage, free schools and universities built for both rich and poor.

Our own African bank, we have our own military tanks, decline western ideology and say thanks to the people of the revolution.

Kwame Nkrumah said it best – are you ready to fight?

Fragmented Afrika

by Ogechi Anokwuru, an Igbo (Eastern Nigerian) residing in London, England.

30Sep/17
Nanii Acosta

Afro-Latino Nanii Acosta Releases Her Single “Sittin Sideways”

Nanii Acosta is an Afro-Dominican singer/songwriter based out of Brooklyn. She has released her single “Sittin Sideways” that is an interpretation of everything that she is – a woman of strength, bilingual tongue, and a strong inclination to music and spirituality. All of which have been cornerstones of Black culture.

“Growing up I had always struggled to maintain an identity to be proud of my Afro-Latino heritage. Because I didn’t fit the mold of what a “Latina” person looked like I was always told “you’re not Dominican, you’re black”, or  “you’re lying”. Unknown to the ignorant ones, Black people come in all different shades and speak a spectrum of languages. We are creators of life and therefore our culture and variants of it can be found in every corner of the globe.

Those comments and ones similar formed deep cuts that lead me to dislike myself. There were instances when I wanted to sit in bleach or pray to God that my hair would be straight and long. The emergence of black culture across the internet and media has been a godsend and a form of healing. I am not only proud of my bronze skin and thick coils but also the excellence that my people represent.”

Nanii’s song can be found on iTunes and Spotify!

17Sep/17
Chidinma Obinnakwelu

Poetic Justice | “Hair Me” by Chidinma Obinnakwelu

“Hair Me” submitted by Chidinma Obinnakwelu

What exactly is wrong with my hair?

Do you not realize you are in the presence of an African Queen?

My crown defies gravity

Reaching for the skies to high five the gods

My crown is handcrafted by the

Sweet goddess Ala Herself

Each coil twisted in such sophistication

Each coil in love with one another they intertwine

Again I ask

What exactly is wrong with my hair?

My hair is not limp and lifeless

For it embodies the spirit of the African goddess

There is absolutely nothing wrong with my hair

There is absolutely everything wrong with

Your perception of what

You think my hair should look like.

 

16Sep/17
Terri New

Poetic Justice | “Humility” by Terri New

“Humility” by Terri New

My misinterpretation of the word humble
handcuffed me.
The keys were inside of me.
I swallowed it, along with the words:
“I can do that”
Instead I told myself:
Sit down child.
Be quiet.
Just act like you don’t know.
Be teachable.
My humility humiliated me.

 

Terri New is a Ghanaian living in Pittsburgh, PA | IG @terridiaries
09Aug/17
Maimouna Youssef

Shine Your Light with Songstress Maimouna Youssef

Grammy nominated music artist Maimouna Youssef has just released a new hot single “Shine Your Light” with DJ Dummy. Bringing back the old flavor of fun fueled concept music that had blazed the air waves in the 70s. Talented and beautiful, Maimouna Youssef allows listeners to escape melodically to an acoustic utopia. Taji Mag had the opportunity to interview her about her new single, her influences, and her sage like wisdom on life.

Taji Mag: What sparked your influence for your new single?
Maimouna Youssef: I wanted to develop music to make people feel good about themselves. Being that I grew up informed about the struggle through my family, I have not been surprised by today’s hardships. I feel like people that didn’t have similar upbringing, don’t know how to deal with some of the issues of today. I hear people say that they don’t know what to do with all this negativity going on in the world and I want them to know that it is going to be ok. That they can keep moving forward because what we are going through is nothing new.
TM: How did you combine dance and concept music in your new single “Shine Your Light”?
MY: I took influence from the 70’s that fused concept and dance music together for people to enjoy. Music shouldn’t have to be really serious or just dance music, it can be both and the 70’s were good for that.
TM: Would you ever consider doing a socially conscious album similar to Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On?
MY: I would love to do a concept album like that. The beauty of being an independent artist is that you are able to put whatever you want to put out without any questions. I love making whatever music I feel moves me. Instead of having someone tell me I can’t put out certain types of work, that limits me as an artist.
TM: How did you learn to keep self love?
MY: My mother inspired me and taught me to love myself. She told me no one else is going to give me that love, so I needed to learn to give it to myself. Everybody should have that love for themselves. I think that it is important now especially with what is going on today that you really have to have that self love.
TM: What advice do you give to your son about life? Women? Society?
MY: I talk to him everyday about his experiences and dealing with emotions. That’s why I have him in boxing in Baltimore with his uncle. To teach him about discipline and dealing with his emotions. I feel like some men of color don’t have that. A way to let out their emotions and not have it bottled in. You see a lot of men with good careers, lots of degrees, money, and are able to function externally but internally they are dealing with a lot of anger and frustrations that they don’t know how to handle. I don’t sugar coat things with my son and keep it real with him. I homeschooled him because during his time in pre-school I felt he wasn’t learning some of the things I wanted him to learn. An Example, in kindergarten he had the daily lesson of differentiating similarities and differences between objects. One day the assignment was to circle all the clowns with red noses and put an X on the ones with different colored noses. I noticed that he had a positive attitude towards the clowns that he was circling because clowns with red noses are the norm but when he had to X out the clowns with different colored noses, I noticed his attitude towards those clowns were more aggressive and dismissive as he was X’ing them out. Then just as an experiment, I asked him instead of using X’s which in our society connote something negative to be excluded and Circles to be something positive to be included, I asked him to use triangles and rectangles which don’t have social connotations neither positive or negative. So, he began doing the assignment and his whole attitude changed. He was feeling positive to all the clowns no matter what color noses they had. I knew right then that that assignment he was being asked to do everyday was teaching social intolerance in the most subconscious and insidious way. Its also teaching self hate because as a boy or color in this society, he’s going to routinely be the one that is different that society will want to X out. If we don’t have self love we didn’t have anything.

TM: Which artist made you fall in love with music?
MY: My mother and grandmother both made me fall in love with music. Especially my grandmother having a gospel background. They kept me exposed to artists like Mahalia Jackson and Donny Hathaway. I wanted to listen to groups like Total back in the day and they kept me on artist like Ella Fitzgerald. Both of them kept me into old school good music, that helped shape the artist I am today.
TM: Which other Artist influenced you?
MY: I have done some background work Lalah Hathaway who inspires me because she is awesome! There have been times where I have not been able to focus on my part as background vocalist for Lalah because she was so great during the performance. I also worked with Cody Chesnutt and I love his work as well. I always try to pick his brain and seek his mentorship because I think he is so talented and has great musical skills. I love working with Eric Roberson, he is another gifted artist. All these great artist are my mentors and I’m always asking them for advice to make my skills better.

Maimouna Youssef’s newest album “Vintage Babies” will be out soon and she also has an album release tour coming. Follow her on twitter @maimounayoussef and @mumufresh on instagram.

14Jul/17
brandy butler

Brandy Butler and Her video “Gentle Beating Heart” Are Soul Food

brandy butlerWith “Gentle Beating Heart,” the latest video from Brandy Butler’s 2017 release “The Inventory of Goodbye,” the vocalist/songwriter continues her collaboration with Nicole  Pfister the director and illustrator who created the sensual short for Brandy’s slinky track,  “Spell” earlier this year.
The video is an abstract visual essay shot in South Africa, which welds the rumbling atmospherics of Ms. Butler’s “Howling” to the mantra-like proclamations of “Gentle Beating Heart.” With the repeated phrase, “Oh your gentle beating heart opens up the sky at night,” Pfister’s short forgoes conventional narrative to visually play upon the theme of emotions so powerful that they transcend the physical realm and impacts the forces of nature itself.
As the camera explores the cliffs, sand and sea of the African coast it also discovers the still bodies of the beach’s inhabits. It observes the obscured tensions that lie within these bodies and beneath the landscape’s surfaces as well. And when the vibrations between these human figures and the land fall into sync, their forces come crashing together with vivid, metamorphosing power.
Listen to and discover more about Brandy Butler on her website.
Both musical pieces “Howling” and “Gentle Beating Heart” are from Brandy Butler’s 2017 release “The Inventory of Goodbye.” A collaborative short film between the musician/performance artist Brandy Butler, and the director and creative being Nicole Pfister.

 Credits:
Written / Directed / Edited NICOLE PFISTER
Music/ Additional visual inputs BRANDY BUTLER
DOP EBRAHIM HAJEE
Assistant Camera JESSE JAMES HARRIS 
ABDUL MALIK MASOET 
Hair and Makeup  DALE M. TITUS
Assistant Director CÉLINE-NIARA SAKHO
Runner STANSY KAWASA
Dancers SEEFLEX THE ARTIST / SHAMI SHAMROCK
Models LUCY MBIOLA / ROX KIM LO / RACHID POATI
Clothing Models 2BOP / YOUNG AND LAZY
Clothing Brandy Butler MALIKAH HAJEE / BETH DITTO
Thank you SHANE COOPER / ANTHONY SMITH / LUKE DOMAN / LUKASZ POLOWCZYK/ POPKREDIT
Photo credits: Ebrahim Hajee
27May/17
Devon Anthony

Devon Anthony is Bringing the Music You Want to Hear

Devon AnthonyJames Brathwaite aka Devon Anthony is about to release his music to  his already sizeable army of fans. With his mixtape expected to be a success and fame imminent, the exciting, newfangled sound that he has made his own is certain to gain interest from across New York.

His first foray into learning story writing  came when he was 13 years old. Later he began to write poetry, which he continued with for three years before finally entering in the NAACP ActSo Program, a decision which he never looked back from.

As his confidence grew and his style developed, he soon saw a loyal following begin to grow and he became a popular local hit in the Brooklyn music and poetry scene. His talent with a variety of musical instruments only added to his appeal, and his unique baritone sound with a twist started to find an appreciative audience.

He is keen to point out that everything he listens to directs his musical development in some way. However, he would certainly include Sam Cook, Bob Marley, The Police, Ray Charles, John Coltrane and Stevie Wonder as amongst his biggest influences.

Finally, after honing his unique sound over recent years, he is now preparing to release his mixtape, ‘Devon Portrait’, which underlies the changes that James has gone through over recent years. The biggest of these was the ‘switch’ from poetry to rap , which has allowed him to develop as a person, and has in turn profoundly aided his musical development.

Devon AnthonyOther changes that have affected and influenced his song-writing over recent years have been his development of political writing, an area that he pays a lot of attention to and incorporates to a certain degree in his music, employing sound bites of news reports to add an extra dimension to some of his songs.

And as if that wasn’t enough, James has taken it upon himself to take up an entirely different, though wholly satisfying, hobby of weight training. The satisfaction he gets from indulging in his many passions has led to create a better person, although he is not at his full potential due to the amount of time that he spends performing.

Check him out below!

https://devonent.simdif.com
https://www.instagram.com/devon_entertainment
https://m.facebook.com/DevonAnthonyEnt