Tabi Bonney Biography
Tabiabue Bonney (Tabi’s birthname)was born in 1977 in West Africa, in Lome, Togo. For the first 13 years of his life he traveled back and forth from Togo and Washington, D.C., where his mother is from. Tabi’s father was a popular music artist in Togo, who was exiled from Togo when Tabi was a teenager, which is why he attended high school in Washington, D.C. (okayafrica.com).
After graduating from High School, Tabi’s formal education did not end. Tabi received a bachelor’s degree from Florida A & M University, where he completed the undergraduate biology/pre-med program. Then, after that, Tabi received a master’s degree in biology and secondary education, from the same University (Dowling). When asked in an interview by Jamati, how his degrees have been useful to him? Tabi responded, “I apply the discipline that it took to graduate and ace tests and simply apply it to my music and the music business”. (jamati.com).
In an article entitled, “MC Tabi Bonney’s hip-hop influences straight from Togo”, Tabi explains how he watched his father pack dance floors on tours across France and across West Africa. His father, Itadi Bonney, was a popular ‘Afro-punk style’ singer. However, Tabi’s father did not want him to be a musician, but encouraged him to become a scientist. His father was shocked when he became a rapper. Artistwiki reported that Tabi began rapping when he was in high school, in Washington, DC, and refined his skills during his college years.
In a write up on the DMVLIFE.com website, it is discussed how Tabi is a product of his environment. Tabi’s father’s experience of being exiled from Togo for criticizing the dictatorial government in one of his songs helped frame Tabi’s approach to life. As a result of his father’s experiences, “Tabi revels in turning obstacles into opportunities”. However, in the Jamati interview with Tabi, he expresses that even though he was born in Togo, he does not think the music industry is harder on Africans, and believe it is all about having the talent. The history of the African nation of Togo is interesting, and important in understanding the French influences in some of Tabi’s music.
After WWII the United Nations entrusted Togo to the United Kingdom and France. But, in 1955 Togo became a separate republic within France. In 1961 a new constitution established an executive president position to head the government. Chaos existed during this period because there were four principal political parties in Togo, and they were all rivals. The President Olympio was assassinated by a rival party and then a Prime Minister, under a new constitution created a government structure that allowed all the parties to be represented. In 1967, in a military coup the political parties were banned and all constitutional processes were ended; (this was 10 years before Tabi was born). The government had been unstable, and more dictatorial than democratic, under the many years of dictatorship of Eyadema. It was not until 1999 that more positive moves to democracy were evident in Togo (History of Togo, p. 2-5).
Togo has had an underdeveloped economy that relies on agricultural exports, and France has been Togo’s largest trading partner (Culture of Togo, p. 7). The political violence in 1992-1993, along with the huge social upheaval led to approximately one third of Togo’s population to move to neighboring countries (p. 8).There is little government support for the arts in Togo (p. 12).
Bonney now resides in Washington DC, and he is described as “one of DC’s most prominent, up-and-coming rappers…” In an interview Tabi describes some of his musical influences are from Bob Marley to other dance music artists. He explains that in his music message he tries to keep it personal, “and on a more realistic vibe for people listening” (Stoopgirl). In another article Tabi reveals that, with music being such a large part of his life with his father’s influence, at a very young age he knew he would be a musician, and he wanted to be a rapper without the thug image (Artistwiki). It is quite evident that Tabi is very proud to be from D.C.
Tabi from Togo has been very productive. Bonney has had the following studio albums released: A Fly Guy’s Theme (2006); Dope (2009); Fresh (2010); and The Summer Years (2011. Aside from his music he directed 2 music videos from this first album, created a production company, Cool Kids Forever Films, and has a personally-designed Bonney Runway clothing line (DMVLIFE.com). In my opinion It would certainly be more difficult, for Tabi to achieve the success that he has if he had lived in Togo.
Artistwiki website. http://artistwiki.com/tabi-bonney/biography
Culture of Togo. http://www.everyculture.com/To-Z/Togo.html
Dowling, Marcus. The Washingtonian. “Meet the Muscian Tabi Bonney”, 12 Jan 2012. http://www.washingtonian.com/blogs/afterhours/music/meet-the-muwscian-tabi-bonney.php
History of Togo. http://www.historyofnations.net/africa/togo.html
Okay Africa website. www.okayafrica.com/storeis/tabi-bonney-on-togo-fresh-his-famous-father-and-more/. 11/29/10.
Stoopgirl, “Q & A Tabi Bonnney”. 8/8/2012. http://www.headafrochild.com/2012/08/08/qa-tabi-bonney/