Von Pea, the Brooklyn-based member of the group Tanya Morgan is a little nervous about his solo debut, Pea’s Gotta Have It.
“I see how people treat solo records and it always comes across like “this is a spinoff, this not the real thing, it’s just a side of the real thing,” he explains. “For example, if you ask if a Sadat X album will be as good as a Brand Nubian album they would be like “no, Brand Nubian is a group.” Or if they want a Phonte or a Pooh solo they’ll say no they want Little Brother, it’s always like that.”
After recording two albums (Moonlighting and Brooklynati) and two EPs (Sunset and The Bridge) with Donwill and Ilyas as Tanya Morgan the MC/Producer has amassed a pretty respectable following, so it’s understandable that he has some apprehension about living up to his fan’s expectations. But thanks to contributions from Lessondary producers like Aeon and Brick Beats his solo offering will be a welcome addition to the collection.
In this interview with TheUrbandaily.com Pea talks about the Spike Lee inspiration for the album, his favorite Spike Lee movies and what the future is for Tanya Morgan.
TUD: What inspired the title, “Pea’s Gotta Have It?” I heard it was based off of a journal you wrote ten years ago.
Von Pea: It’s a nod to Spike Lee cause when I look at the people that represent Brooklyn it’s always “I’m from Brooklyn and you might might get robbed by me.” “I’m from Brooklyn so I sell drugs.” That is a part of it but when you look at Spike Lee “I’m from Brooklyn and I’m going to do a movie in Bay Ridge, then I’m going to do a movie in Bedstuy, Canarsie, Park Slope.” He shows the whole Brooklyn experience in every movie. Even if the movie did not set in Brooklyn. For example, the one with Denzel, Inside Man, the first scene is in Coney Island and that movie has nothing to do with Brooklyn. Spike always made it a point to represent Brooklyn and not always in a negative way. I wanted to think of a way to shout him on my album and just went with the title Pea’s Gotta Have It . It’s not about the movie at all it’s just about Spike and the way he represents Brooklyn. I’m in a group with two people from Ohio so I’ve always had to share my representation and that is a big thing in Hip Hop. Now I get to be like “Brooklyn time.” The concept of the album, I call it more of a theme than a concept cause it does not tell a story from beginning to end. The theme of the album is high school, coming of age, in Brooklyn. It’s more coming of age but when you are coming of age you are in school. I wasn’t cutting class I was in class so the album is about that. It spawns from a journal of mine I found one day as I was cleaning up the house. I was reading it and was cracking up at what I used to think, where I thought I would be right now. I thought I would have this house and be like Mase or like somebody that was hot back then. I thought I was gonna have 10 Hype Williams videos and just be the man. The whole time I was making the same music I make now which never really sold like that. It was just so funny to see how delusional I was at the time. But I knew that I would make it and that’s the hardest part about it. Hard meaning good. That was a cool thing. I knew I was going to make it. I knew that I would be here, talking to you, be on MTV, maybe not a hundred times a day like I thought, maybe once a year, but I kinda made it. I thought it would be cool to make an album about that experience. And I sat, looked at my yearbook, looked at facebook, looked at the journal again and I said I was going to take all of this and make an album about it. I know Victor Vaughn and Doom did it already, Bobby Digital was about being a teenager but I wanted to do it my way and from my perspective. That’s the album.
What’s the first single?
The first single is called “The Yorker.” It is produced by Brick Beats, he is the in house producer for Tanya Morgan. It’s about being a New Yorker, he flipped the odyssey native New York sample and turned it into this jam. It’s dedicated to everybody that reps their home town on a fitted cap. Everywhere we go. We just came from a West Coast tour and we threw on the Dodger fitted or the Oakland A’s and represent in that hometown. It’s for everybody, I’m from New York but it’s for everyone that reps their hometown, rocking a fitted.
I heard “Boombox” and haven’t stopped playing it since. Who produced that and what’s the story behind it?
Boombox is produced by my boy Aeon. I’m also a producer. I’ve produced every Tanya Morgan album and if I didn’t produce, I was the musical director. But for my album I only did about three tracks. Aeon did 6 of them, he is a producer from Philly. And it was just one of those beats that he had on a beat tape four years ago at Dilla’s first Donuts party. He gave it to me and said “lets do some more stuff” and it just vibed out to that for so long. The beat was called “Boombox,” and maybe I’m not creative but I ran with that title. That ended up being a nod to Spike Lee again (Radio Raheem). And I didn’t know about the Shyheim track until after mine came out and people told me that Shyheim used the sample on one of his main tracks. I didn’t know about that. Shout out to Shyheim.
So, what are your Top 5 Spike Lee movies?
The number one, I don’t want to be obvious but Do The Right Thing is number one. After that, School Daze, just because they break out in a musical for no reason at all. I like stuff like that. It felt like it came out of nowhere but Spike made it work. I really like Inside Man cause I’m a fan of Clive Owens. Crooklyn is number 4.
Cause my mother always talks about growing up in the 70s and how I should have been there. I feel like that little girl in the movie was my mother. My mother always talks about how good it was and how nobody got shot and those kinds of things. Also, because I got family down south. I guess everybody in New York has family down south or in the West Indies.
Number 5 is either She’s gotta have it or Bamboozled. I saw She’s Gotta Have It late so to see how he started, so simple, knowing where he went was so crazy to me. I grew up in Brooklyn and to see how it looked before I could remember is big to me. I look at movies like that. I guess that’s my list.
That’s not an obvious list. You left out Mo Better Blues, Jungle Fever, ones people always seem to mention.
The thing about Jungle Fever is I fell like they didn’t know what they wanted the movie to be about, drugs or the interracial relationship? For me, it had to be about either or. I feel like the drugs was stronger but the controversy of the relationship got people in the theater.
What plans do you have for promoting P’s Gotta Have It?
Word of mouth, really. Being an underground artist, indie artist, you are not going to get a big budget. I don’t have any viral content, I didn’t diss anybody on video or on twitter. All I have is the music. Just like Black Milk, Blue in Exile, or even Tanya Morgan in the past, we did it based on our music. And I’m not looking for it to blow up when it drops in November. I just want it to continue to build. With me, the mixtapes I’ve done catch on late anyway for whatever reason. 2-3 years ago I did “Grand Vonye” over all Kanye Beats and now people say “What’s that “Grand Vonye”? What is it about?” We were in Seattle and this guy never heard of Tanya Morgan and he said “Von P? Grand Vonye? What happened to you, you should’ve put something else out after that!” I have a whole catalog worth of shit after that but stuff catches on late now. I’m not expecting it to do something crazy in October. I know I’m not going to be number one. All I have is good music. I’m hoping for tweets that say “I bought the album that shit was dope!” That’s all I got to look forward to. I mean that in a positive way.
When can we expect another Tanya Morgan album?
Probably May-June 2011. I can’t say the title yet but it’s gonna be interesting. For the people that don’t know it’s two people now. Ilyas is [leaving the group] but he directed my video off my album called “Dreams.” He’s gonna be on the album on a song or two. We started as two members and he came on. Like I said we just ended up being the group that people knew. His music is different from Tanya Morgan. He hasn’t gotten to do what his passion is as far as his sound. So, he is going to do his thing. We talked about it. His music is going to be darker, more rock influenced. People probably see that with the spikes and shit. That was him letting him know that “I’m a little different from these two dudes.” Hopefully 2011 we’ll see that and we’ll both continue to do our shit. The next TM album, we got some surprises for you all. We not making up no weird cities or nothing like that. It’s gonna be dope.