The married hip-hop duo Aja Black and Big Samir, who perform as the Reminders, are ready to release new music into the world — and while they've long ago learned how to make music as a couple, they're striking a balance between what to keep private and what to share.
"I think it’s a personal thing: Once you’re ready to start sharing again, you do it." says Big Samir. "There haven’t been any big revelations or anything. It feels great to be sharing our minds again, to share our experiences and what we’ve learned."
Like many good musical partnerships, the Reminders take turns leading and following in writing music. Sometimes Black brings a guitar riff to the table, or Samir offers up a beat on the djembe. They both draw from their experiences, and fully buying into one another's creativity allows the partnership to work.
"There are songs that reflect how we both feel, that stem from a conversation, and we take that and turn it into a song," says Samir. "That’s the more fruitful songs that we have, where we both share the same idea and we turn our conversation into a song.
"There are other times where one of us may come up with an idea and share it," he adds. "Then the other one basically adds the extra spices on it, and vice-versa."
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What makes the Reminders' music unique is what brought Black and Samir together in the first place: the similarities and differences in the two, what draws them together and pushes them apart.
"We see eye to eye and we share similar views on life and so many things — that’s why we work together so well," says Samir. "But at the same time, there are also different things that we’re into. There are certain things that Aja studies and is really interested by that I’m not 100 percent into like she is, and vice-versa. There’s certain things that I’m really into that she likes as well but isn’t 100 percent into, so in those cases I may come home, and she’ll be like, ‘Look what I learned from this,’ and then I may come home and be like, ‘This thing that I’m really crazy about, this is also what it does.’"
A married hip-hop duo is unusual, but that's not what makes the Reminders particularly noteworthy. They have made waves in the socially conscious hip-hop scene because of their thoughtful approach to crafting a meaningful message with each release.
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With penciled-in plans to release new music in the fall, the Reminders are returning to hip-hop with a desire to stay the course while evolving as artists. Like a good marriage, there is always room for growth, both personally and together.
"We’re definitely trying to take more risks now. Once you grow, that growth has to show; otherwise, you’re just repeating the same thing. You’re not going any place further."
The Reminders will perform at the Westword Music Showcase at 5:30 p.m. Saturday, June 23, on the Vinyl Rooftop, 1082 Broadway. Get more information and tickets at westwordshowcase.com.