Thursday, October 11, 2007

Bahamadia (Antonia Reed)

Bahamadia rose to prominence on the hip-hop scene as the female protégée of Gang Starr's Guru, and lent her smooth-flowing raps to a variety of projects during the late '90s, including several electronica and acid jazz artists. Born Antonia Reed in Philadelphia, Bahamadia started out DJing at local house parties in the early to mid-'80s, and soon stepped out front to prove her skill on the mic as well. She remained a presence on the Philly hip-hop scene, but didn't make her first recordings until hooking up with producer/radio personality DJ Ran, who helmed her independent 1993 single "Funk Vibe." "Funk Vibe" caught the attention of Gang Starr MC Guru, who took an interest in Bahamadia's career and helped her get a record deal with Chrysalis. Her first singles, 1994's "Total Wreck" and 1995's "Uknowhowwedu," were well-received in the underground for their jazzy flavor and laid-back raps. She also appeared on the second volume of Guru's acclaimed Jazzmatazz project. The full-length LP Kollage followed in 1996, and featured production by both Guru and DJ Premier of Gang Starr, as well as fellow Philly natives the Roots.Unfortunately, Chrysalis folded a year later, and Bahamadia chose to wait out her contract before resuming her solo career. In the meantime, she made a string of musically adventurous guest appearances that solidified her underground reputation: the Roots (Illadelph Halflife's "Push up Ya Lighter"), Sweetback (Sade's backing band), drum'n'bass auteur Roni Size (the title track of the landmark New Forms), Towa Tei, acid jazzers the Brand New Heavies, the Herbaliser, trip-hoppers Morcheeba ("Good Girl Down"), Rah Digga, Slum Village, and Talib Kweli's Reflection Eternal (their collaboration, "Chaos," appeared on the seminal Rawkus compilation Soundbombing, Vol. 2). She also hosted a hip-hop radio show in Philadelphia from 1997-1999. In 2000, she signed with the L.A.-based indie Goodvibe and released the chilled-out seven-track EP BB Queen (as in "beautiful black"), which received excellent reviews.
Bahamadia - Kollage (Mar 19, 1996: Chrysalis)
Bahamadia's debut album, Kollage, is an underrated, jazzy affair paced by some nifty production and the MC's own dryly gentle delivery. Despite her laid-back, even deliberate flow, she has a confident, upfront presence on the mic, with strong rhyming skills and a fondness for old-school wordplay (as demonstrated on, naturally, "Wordplay"). Being a protégée of Gang Starr and a native of Philadelphia, she gets production help from the former's DJ Premier and Guru, as well as the latter's Roots. The music often recalls both of those artists, as well as the unassuming, low-key ambience of Digable Planets. But there's also often a dreamier quality than any of those groups, thanks to some spacy keyboards and fusion samples, and some R&B elements as well, most notably on the excellent single "I Confess." Other highlights include her two early singles, "Total Wreck" and "Uknowhowwedu," and the quietly shimmering "Spontaneity." Kollage isn't hugely varied, but it is fairly consistent, and fans of intellectual bohemian hip-hop will find this album very good at what it does.
After a four-year exodus, Bahamadia couldn't have picked a more opportune time to reintroduce herself to the hip-hop masses. After all, the female MC arena changed considerably after the Philly native dropped her 1996 debut, Kollage. Injecting some much-needed class back into the female ranks, Bahamadia transcends the common denominator (sexuality and gold digging) of her scantily clad colleagues. Though she returns without the aid of DJ Premier, the hypnotic lounge music of Jay Dee's soulful apprentices Kwele and EQ enables Bahmadia's subtle flow more of an opportunity to truly flourish. Her eternal optimism is defined by the sublime "Beautiful Things," a wonderfully crafted track that reminds us to appreciate the simple things we often take for granted. Just as refreshing is the red-tag anthem, "Commonwealth (Cheap Chicks)," a track dedicated to the thrift-store honeys that try to stay with it while rocking discounted gear.


Anonymous said...

what the hell is "bohemian" hip hop?? this makes no sense at all. total contradiction mister..

pepe cadena said...

I think that it is a great kind of music, sometime ago I went to a party with this music, generic viagra, beer,licor,girls and it was so crazy.

Davis said...

I think that Antonia is the prime level of the music,Her reputation in North America has been enhanced by a number of highly regarded guest appearances on tracks by artists including , The Roots, Jedi Mind Tricks and Planet Asia, and the Philadelphia hip hop collective Army of the Pharaohs.I buy the albums of her in the album store next to the viagra avenue !!man it is one of the best post that I have ever seen!22dd