- Words Tiger Taylor
In her second column, Tiger Taylor unpacks the iconicity of Bahamadia and Illa J.
Hello again! Thanks for tuning back in. This week I am focusing on two artists who are both very close to my heart, both unbelievably talented and very highly respected in the game here in the UK, as well as in the US where they are based.
First up, we have Philly born MC, Bahamadia. Antonia D Reed aka Bahamadia is one of my all time favourite rappers and her 1996 debut solo album, Kollage, is in my opinion one of the best displays of truly masterful lyricism and flow in hip hop history. With producers like DJ Premier and Guru working on this album, you know the production is insane… Her highly conscious, cerebral lyrics will spin your head as she raps about the power of creativity and B-boy and hip hop culture.
I highly recommend you listen to the whole album but if I had to pick out a few tracks my favourites on Kollage, would probably be, “Wordplay”, “3 The Hard Way”, “Uknowhowwedu” and “Total Wreck”.
"Wordplay" by Bahamadia
Her values are something that I have always had the utmost respect for as an unbelievably strong female role model, and one that I have had the ultimate pleasure of interviewing about her experience of working as a female member of the hip hop industry. You can find this piece on my blog (LOL gotta plug where you can!)
If you aren’t already obsessed with her and you are at all into hip hop, (which I bloody hope you are or you are probably bored out your mind by now), do yourself a favour and check out this Queen… you’re welcome, in advance.
Up next we have my boy, Mr. John Yancey aka Illa J. Another musical, lyrical, beat-making powerhouse/alien genius. You may have heard of his brother, a little known producer and rapper by the name of J Dilla… yes the God of production himself, but Illa J is a god in his own right.
This former member of Slum Village is an incredibly versatile singer, rapper and musician who happens to be playing Camden’s Jazz Cafe this week… if you missed out on ticket sales, I feel for you, but luckily enough he will be back later this Summer to play Maiden Voyage Festival alongside Roy Ayers, Madlib and Gilles Peterson.
Again, I recommend checking out all of his work, one of my all time favourite songs is “Timeless”, a dreamy tune which utilises a Dilla beat.
"Timeless" by Illa J
Equally as good are his two latest albums, Home, and the most recent for which he is currently on tour, John Yancey. On, Home, J delivers a soulful retrospective of his childhood and hometown in Detroit. With songs like, “7 Mile” referring to an infamous Detroit street and “Sam Cook” (no “e”) which echoes the music his soul singer and musician father used to play him as a kid.
The latest album’s upbeat tone is more reminiscent of a Californian vibe with content that seems to focus around recent experiences and relationships with women. A couple of my favourites are the oh so melodic “Rose Gold” and “Tokyo”, as well as “James Said” and “32” which both give touching tribute to his brother.
"Rose Gold" by Illa J
The album as a whole serves a palette of dulcet harmonies peppered with rap intervals. And the layering of vocals delivers a truly ethereal quality to a few of the tracks. Well worth listening to both these albums as well as his older stuff.
Once again, you are welcome… hope to see you back again in a couple of weeks!