Tanya Morgan, once a group with a following confined to the East Coast underground hip-hop scene, has seen several layers of artistic success since first coming onto the scene. Anyone affiliated with the following of Donwill and Von Pea can assert the mainstream success of artists like Kid Cudi and others is built of the same fortitude and creative thought Tanya Morgan maintains as an integral part of the outfit's design.
The crew is currently making the rounds in Colorado headlining the Ahead of the Class tour with TiRon, which is being presented by the Solution and features DJs Low Key and Lazy Eyez, as well as a line-up of a few key staples in the Denver hip-hop scene, including Whygee and FOE.
In advance of the show tomorrow night at the Marquis (which we have a couple pairs of tickets to -- hit us up below if you're interested in being our guests) and the gig this Tuesday, March 15 at 'Round Midnight in Boulder, we caught up with Donwill and Von Pea and chopped it up about Lupe Fiasco and being on tour in Colorado.
Westword: Is the idea behind the Ahead of the Class tour that there's a newness coming into the world of hip-hop and these artists represent that change?
Von Pea: Really, the Ahead of the Class Tour brings together artists like ourselves and TiRon, and several acts that have been around floating under the radar with a decent body of work that would have warranted a lot more industry potential, together to showcase the type of music that we do. The days of the budget albums and tours and things of that nature are dried up.
Is this newer class of hip-hop ushering in new rules of engagement with the consumers?
VP: It's not necessarily that we're the newer class. We've been around and have worked with artists far and wide. It's basically saying that a lot of people complain about what there isn't and what there is not enough of without sitting down and looking for what they actually want.
There were a few solo moments for Tanya Morgan last year. What are the more important pieces you brought from your solo perspectives to the group?
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Donwill: We stuck together, even throughout the solo album stuff. We toured as the group Tanya Morgan. More or less, the thing we learned about going solo, even if you're a group that's put out fifty albums, it's not like you have to go back and start from scratch to work together. Instead of having to take one hundred steps as a group and then go back to work after being solo, you can maybe go back to square thirty, instead of square one. It helps more than it hurts. There is a new hunger and a renewed interest to create something great for the fans.
Is there a difference in the dynamic of the fans in the east, compared to a performance in the west or regions where the music spaces are so different?
VP: We have a lot of fans along with Pacific coast, so it really is that much of a difference.
D: We've had a good response; we definitely have a fan base out on this side, and I think that our fans know that we came across the country, and it makes their respect what we do a little bit different. It's not like we got on the train and went to SOB's [a concert venue in New York City] to come down and play the show. There is a lot of effort put behind it.
When we talk about the fan base of artists in the changing market, we have to ask about Lupe Fiasco and the latest criticism of his album Lasers. What do you think?
VP: I feel like a lot of the people that were speaking out against it were not his fan base. These were not people that are going to go out and spend money on the album. They were not the fans. A fan will ride with you throughout the issues, whether they love the album or not.
Does it speak to the balance of an artist being beholden to the consumers and record label?
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D: You know, he did a lot of interviews and talking about what it was like to make the album and, it's press. He's gonna say things to keep the press interested in what he's doing. The bottom line is that you're not gonna love everything you do. You don't love everything you make. That also shouldn't affect the fans enjoyment of it. Just because I'm not really a fan of a particular song doesn't mean it's not a good song. It just means I have different taste sometimes. Being beholden to the industry and to your fans, when you're dealing with major labels and deadlines, you have to play it that way sometimes. You can't tell them what you'll do and won't do. The art and business are separate. They live in the same vein, but they're separate.
Tanya Morgan, with TiRon, DJs Low Key and Lazy Eyez, Whygee, FOE, and the newly formed duo Play Cousin, featuring Boonie Mayfield and Jordan Craft, Marquis Theater, 2009 Larimer Street,$10 (21+) - $12 (all ages), 1-866-468-7621
Tanya Morgan, with TiRon, DJs Low Key and Lazy Eyez, Whygee, FOE and DJ Vajra, 9 p.m. Tuesday, March 15, 'Round Midnight, 1005 Pearl Street, Boulder, $5 (before 11 p.m.) - $10 (after 11 p.m.), 303-442-2176.