Cincinnati/Brooklyn hip-hop trio Tanya Morgan's debut album, Moonlighting, sounds ebullient. Its tone seems influenced by both West Coast indie rap (and that coast's penchant for making freewheeling, carefree music) and the punch-line-heavy battle rhymes of East Coast underground hip-hop. Whether intentionally or not, the unusually named Tanya Morgan (the names "Tanya" and "Morgan" are reportedly a hybrid of the group's fantasy woman) reflects both styles. The result is a fun and engaging album. It's not perfect, and people who like their records appropriately quantized and remixed will be sorely disappointed. The music is roughhewn and lo-fi, as if the group assembled the 50-minute disc whenever it could afford studio time. But Von Pea's beats are inspired. He finds fresh musical insights in Marvin Gaye's "I Want You," an oft-used sample, on "Want U to Want Me," and floats a snippet from MC Lyte's "Paper Thin" over a new version (also called "Paper Thin") with the same creativity. I could go on and talk about MCs Ilyas and Donwill's insightful rhymes, too, but the best way to experience Tanya Morgan's Moonlighting is to hear it yourself.
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