For its second full-length album, Tanya Morgan created a fictional city combining its members’ respective homes in Brooklyn and Cincinnati, but the group’s real home is in the grooves of hip-hop and the universe of black music that created it, a sonic wonderland that renders geography simultaneously crucial and irrelevant. Liberated rather than limited by tradition, Brooklynati breathes new life into sturdy hip-hop tropes with lived-in chemistry, disarming sweetness, and impossibly lush, hyper-soulful, 9th Wonderful production. If Tanya Morgan isn’t the nicest, most likeable crew in hip-hop, it’s right up there.
“Plan B” tenderly explores the sacrifices and faith endemic in pursuing a career in music against long odds. Tanya Morgan teams up with a crooning Phonte of Little Brother for another extended hip-hop-as-love-affair metaphor in “Without U.” With “Hardcore Gentleman,” the trio creates a lost Golden Age song that suggests an agitated mosh-pit collision between Pharcyde, Fu Schnickens, and Onyx. A huge evolutionary leap forward from the group’s charming 2006 debut Moonlighting, Brooklynati brings together the whole package: gorgeous beats, thoughtful rhymes, strong song concepts, and a laid-back, cohesive vibe. Even the skits are clever. With Brooklynati, Tanya Morgan comes of age. It’s gone from paying homage to the albums and groups that inspired it to putting out a classic of its own.