Hip Hop is a global phenomenon, and its feminine voice is exposing new frontiers of creativity. Rooted in the five elements, Hip Hop has grown to nurture socio-spiritual growth and community development worldwide. As further evidence of this, World Hip Hop Market, Nomadic Wax, and Detroit’s DJ LaJedi have joined forces with artists from over 15 nations to release World Hip Hop Women: From The Sound Up.
“We offer you an alternative, all feminine, all-star representative, all perspective, all nation, the global champion, call it the reckoning, all elements, all natural, it’s effortless.”
– World Hip Hop Women hostess Eternia, taken from her track, “The BBQ Remix (ft. Tiye Phoenix & Jean Grae)”
Native Sun Review
By Adam Itkoff: Twitter.com/adamitkoff
“There are times where we feel the beat itself tells it’s own story and we just have to tune ourselves to the frequency of the beat and allow it to speak through us.”
Hip-hop comes in all shapes and sizes. Even talking about “Hip-Hop” is a sure-fire way to box something in, something that is often stratified, but ultimately can only be described in sound and movement. Yasiin Bey, formerly Mos Def, describes it well when he says, “You know what’s gonna happen with Hip-Hop? Whatever’s happening with us […] People talk about Hip-Hop like it’s some giant living in the hillside coming down to visit the townspeople. We are Hip-Hop.”
Still, honing in on the amorphous and ubiquitous beast that is “Hip-Hop” is not a simple task. From Gold to God, (not a bad album name, don’t steal it), each person worships their own rap-ethos and finds glory amongst different elements of the genre. In their debut album “Indigenous Sound Waves,” Native Sun captures the sounds resting on the afro-soul side of the spectrum. And if that side of the spectrum hasn’t yet been properly carved out, well, Native Sun is doing it. The album bubbles with joy and inspiration, moving through prayer and melody fluidly and, most importantly, with burning soul. The album is a gem of conscious hip-hop, and I was lucky to chat with Native Sun about their influences, their debut album, and a hypothetical spirit made of butter:
AI: Take us through the UK hip-hop scene. Can you tell us about the context that your music is coming from?
Sarina: The context from where our music is coming from is cultural, historic, self- empowering…self-reflecting, universal and educational stance. Most of the music we are influenced by has a type of message of upliftment, like Bob Marley, Fela Kuti, Jay Dilla; a sound which transcends barriers and unites people.
AI: In your opinion, who are some of the best artists doing it right now?
Sarina: The artists that inspire me musically…I would say a mix of sounds; Nneka, Little Dragon, Thundercat, Tanya Auclair, Eric Lau.
AI: What kind of energy lies behind your music? What inspires?
Sarina: It’s an energy of honesty, keen interest in going back to natural living – healthy living and surrendering to our creator who inspires everything from the sun to our breath, people inspire the music and everyday life and personal reflections. Positive music is important in a society, which causes some of us to self-harm, self hate, neglect our selves and our dreams…
AI: If you had to describe Native Sun’s music in five words or less, what would you say? (Use of colors and non-existent adjectives encouraged)
Sarina: Pineapple, Sunrays, kaleidoscope, raised fist, laughter.
AI: Clearly, this album boasts a great deal of afro-centric technique and lyricism. Can you explain how this ties into your vision?
Sarina: Native sun began to carve out a specific focus on African culture and reference to Africa with the hope to re-connect and introduce something new to ourselves and others; the vision is growing everyday and the desire for live African instruments is a part of our vision combined with love for hip hop. I’m from a generation of 1st British born with parents from the Caribbean Diaspora and so combining afro-style and sound is like re-connecting back to who I am and paying respect to my ancestors. It’s a personal deep vision.
AI: When I hear a beat like ‘Out of the Box’ I here something springy and soulful. Can you talk about what goes into that sort of production?
Mohammed Yahya: The best person to answer that question would be the producer himself. That specific beat was created by ‘Tropical Soul’. I loved the beat as soon as I heard it cause it had such a positive feel to it, good tempo and a very soulful Motown kind of vibe with horns and a strong drum pattern that gave us enough space to express ourselves vocally and lyrically.
AI: How did you two meet? How has the group evolved in the last several years? What is the creative process like between you two?
Mohammed Yahya: We met over 10 years ago through my girlfriend at the time who is now my wife, we always respected and appreciated each other’s art and spoke about collaborating on a track together. However it never happened because the time wasn’t right, then 2 years ago I approached Sarina to work on a song which turned into 3, then an EP and then in a really organic way it flourished into our “Indigenous Soundwaves” Album. As for the creative process of each song it usually starts with us having discussions about various subjects such as the Environment, Spirituality and other topics that we are passionate about, once we find the right beat we start writing to it. There are times where we feel the beat itself tells it’s own story and we just have to tune ourselves to the frequency of the beat and allow it to speak through us.
AI: [Hypothetical scenario] You’re given three wishes by a magical spirit made entirely of butter. The only requirement is that all wishes have to go toward the next album…
Wow, that’s a very tough question (laughter). We would love to be able to create a whole album with a live band made of musicians from different parts of the world using traditional instruments from Africa such as the Kora from West Africa, Nyanga pan pipes from Mozambique, African Kalimbas and flutes from South America.
AI: In 2013, the world needs what?
In 2013, we urgently need more Love, care, concern and sincere compassion for each other, understanding that we all come from the same source and are all undeniably connected in a very deep way, every time we destroy each other, the animal kingdom and the earth we are ultimately destroying a part of ourselves.
We need more dialogue between one another, we need to respect our individualities and celebrate our differences, we need justice, patience and guidance from the Creator.
“Editor’s Note: be sure to check out the Nomadic Wax/Subatomic Sound System produced track “Suffer No More” from the Indigenous Soundwaves album.“
1. Can you introduce yourself?
My name is Adwoa K. Barwuah, I was born in Ghana West Africa and have lived in the Washington, DC metro area for the past 15 years. I have a BA from the catholic university of America, and an MA in international Commerce and policy from George Mason University. I currently work in the housing finance industry and when not working, I volunteer in Washington, DC and also in Ghana.