up with Ilyas, one-third of the Cincinatti-based group Tanya Morgan, on
his way to work. Ilyas talks to us about their new album Moonlighting,
having dreadlocks, making good music, and why no one should compare Tanya
Morgan to Kanye West or Little Brother.
man. We have a show out in Denver tomorrow. I'm excited. We're performing
with Lupe Fiasco.
like Moonlighting has been getting a lot of positive responses so far.
has. It's amazing to us. We're sitting back like, "Wow." It's
lovely when somebody appreciates what you put your heart and soul into.
think it would take off the way it has?
it would take off, but honestly, it's kind of taking off more than what
I thought it would. It's much faster. It's skyrocketing right now. I'm
just sitting back like, "Wow, this is really taking off." We've
been getting a lot of very positive reviews. It's a blessing.
you put this album together? I understand you did a lot through email.
did a lot through AIM. We'd add pieces and send it around. It went from
there and it just came together. It was real natural. We have a real natural
chemistry. After the first song, we realized we sounded good together
and we needed to keep going with this.
a new way to do an album.
the wave of the future, man. All media is evolving to the internet. It's
nice that we did this on the helm of this movement because I'm pretty
sure everyone is going to be doing this soon.
miss out on the studio experience recording Moonlighting?
a beautiful thing, but I guess what helped with putting things together
the way we did, when you're paying for studio time, you have to put it
down right then and there or you're going to keep paying studio time and
you're going to keep having to go back. When somebody had their piece
of the song together, you could sit back and meditate on in. There weren't
any time constraints or any pressure. That was an advantage to doing it
via the internet. I think that's what helped Moonlighting come together
your inspiration for We Be?
We had the
beat and I think my partner Don started it off. He had the idea for it.
He started the verse doing the hook and then he transitions into the verse.
He did that and I loved the beat. We loved the energy in the song and
we put it together. We were really hyped. I think that was one of the
later songs we did. We have a video that should surface pretty soon for
you write Just Cuz I got Locks?
very conservative cities. Up in New York, there are plenty of cats with
'locks. Here, we're in the minority. Cats are running up to me like, "I
know you got some trees. Tell me where the weed at." People are telling
me I look like Bob Marley, or anyone you can name with dreadlocks. I'm
just like, "Nah." It's annoying, especially after that Dave
Chapelle episode came out with Lil' Jon. "Okaaaaay, you look like
Lil' Jon." No, I don't. That song is me breaking it down for the
shallow. Just because I have dreadlocks does not mean I'm a Rasta, Jamaican,
or selling weed.
is this taking place in?
Ohio. There are ignorant folk everywhere, so I can't complain.
your fans in Cincinnati?
is that me and Don live here. We have a group called Ill Will. We've done
a little bit here and there, but not really. We didn't really get involved
in the local music scene too tough, and it's funny because we'll be at
the hip-hop spots and people wouldn't know that we rhymed, and then we
appeared in the Source and XXL. The music scene is just now becoming aware
of us. We did it through the internet and we performed in other places.
Our music scene here is very scattered in bits and pieces. It doesn't
have unity just yet. Hopefully we can contribute to changing that in the
your goals for Moonlighting?
We just want
the critical acclaim. We just want people to appreciate the music. We're
not worried about going platinum. We just want people to hear it. We want
people to know that we got something. We just want people to appreciate
your inspiration for the cover art?
us being the prankster-ass fools that we are. We're just trying to throw
people off. What we're trying to do with the whole "Tanya Morgan"
idea is to just be so out there and throw people off, so the people that
really like us like our music. If you know who we are, then you really,
really feel the music. We didn't just want to be another group like "Three
Dope MC's" or something like that. We wanted to try something different.
Rock artists are very creative. They'll try anything, but hip-hop is stuck
in a box. We wanted to push the envelope a little bit with our name and
you and Don start working together?
Me and Don
were like enemies in high school in Cincinnati. We ended up going to the
same college, North Carolina A&T. When we saw that we were the only
two Cincinnati dudes there, we squashed the beef. We started rhyming as
Ill Will. Then Don hooked up with Von Pea and they decided to do a project
together, and he wanted me involved in it.
your chemistry working together?
is off the hook. I can't even explain it. It's like we all connect and
contrast at the same time. When we play a song, we all connect and we
contrast just enough where everybody in the group doesn't sound alike.
You can hear our distinct voices and styles. We get along because we pretty
much enjoy the same music. We all appreciated the same artists growing
up. Our common love for music really came together in us making our own
next for Tanya Morgan?
tour. That's the next move. We're just doing as many shows as we can at
this point to push the album. We also have a second video in the works.
We're pretty confident that our video for We Be will get a decent amount
of rotation. We're pretty much trying to get the music out there and let
people know that we're not a woman and let people know that we're doing
good to be mistaken for a woman.
Especially when you're three dudes! (laughs)
you feel about comparisons to Little Brother or groups that have a similar
sound to you?
I find it
flattering as long as someone doesn't do it for the simple fact that we
don't talk about crack and guns. Our content may be similar, but we don't
sound anything like anyone else. People aren't used to hearing our brand
of hip-hop. They're like, "They're not thugging. They're like Kanye
and Common." In the mainstream, you have your crunk artists, your
New York MC's, and they get separated. But if you're not thugging, they
pretty much lump you all together even if you're music sounds nothing
you should just sling some crack.
We kind of have a track like that, but it's just us parodying the industry,
Rough You Up. That's our version of what's popular in music right now.
That's talking about it saying we could do it if we wanted to, but not
started thinking about the next album?
going to be dope. It's going to be really dope. This is like an introduction.
The next album is going to show more. You know what we're capable of now,
so we're going to go very hard for the next album. The ideas we already
have are crazy. We finished Moonlighting over two years ago, and we did
Sunlighting and Sunset in order to promote it. We did those after Moonlighting.
I'm about to go to the slave-driver.
you want to say to everyone?
This is like
my new little bootleg saying: All the people out there that are really
not feeling what's happening in the mainstream right now, go out and buy
Moonlighting. I'm not just saying that to pad my pockets, but every time
you buy an album, it's like voting. If you want cats like Tanya Morgan
and Little Brother to be around, buy the album, it's like voting for us
to be around. Even if you downloaded the album, place your vote and buy