Summer Years

The most recent album of Tabi Bonney’s is The Summer Years. This album, along with the previous album Fresh, was carefully structured and proved to be a better work than those past. With the help of Ski Beats linked together by the former Rockafella CEO Dame Dash, The Summer Years cultivated into an unforgettable album.

One of the aspects that sets this album apart is the listener get more of a feel of him, of the real him, the “him” that was Born in Togo. And you get this feeling all throughout the album. Especially on the song On Jupiter that features the legend, his father Itadi Bonney. This old school song is definitely of the smooth, old school variety and it takes you back in a nostalgic kind of way to what could have been. The delivery in the song is really clean and precise, and as for the lyrics and his cleverness that he had in the album prior to this one, you see more of it on The Summer Years. “I’m so conceited, moon-walkin’ on a paraplegic, I’m the type to book the Queens daughter, then go and delete it.” I really love what he does here with his rhyme scheme and the flow of his delivery which can be heard throughout this song and others on the album.

Another quality that trickled over from the 2010 Fresh to this current album is his eclecticism. He uses a kind of electro beat in his single called Top Notch/Material girls. In this song he is influenced by the help of indie group MGMT and the European artist Lykke Li. The diverseness that I hear in this song is definitely something that we have heard in his previous work. What makes his sounds blend well together is the fact that he is not afraid to mix different beats and melodies on his albums. This kind of bravery is what is needed throughout the rap game in order to keep things original and to be fans are being entertained and interested in the music.

My favorite songs on this album would have to be Hip Hop and Love featuring Murs, On Jupiter Featuring Itadi Bonney, and finally Chasing Featuring Mat Beilis. Hip Hop and Love is the first song of Tabi Bonney’s that actually sounds as though it was really produced by someone other than himself. The sound was clear and concise and the melody of the song is smooth and mellow; almost trance like. On Jupiter, as I have already stated, it has a very calming and nostalgic vibe to it. And finally chasing, the last song on the album, is so beautiful. I absolutely love the piano and the singing on the track. The message of the song speaks heavily toward reaching your dreams and longevity in being ambitious. His eclecticism definitely came through on this song and the album as a whole, and his method of taking risks musically as far as his sounds go indeed worked out for him in a positive way.

Biography of Tabi Bonney

The year is 1970 and Itadi Bonney was the most influential and most celebrated musicians in Togo. Heavily influenced in politics, he wrote a song by the name of Mayi Africa that criticized the president Gnassingbe Eyadema and his deadly tactics to in force democracy in his home country. Receiving multitudes of governmental backlash from the political song, Itadi, Wife Jo, and the teenaged Tabiabue’ Bonney fled first to Benin, then to France, and finally to Jo’s hometown, Washington DC. Because of his music career himself, Itadi and his wife stressed the rule that the young Tabi would not venture off into music. His parents wanted him to have his mind and energy no place else but on his school work; to which, his parents succeeded. Tabi Bonney went on to complete his educational career at Florida A&M in pre-med making his parents very proud. However, even with credentials and a job teaching biology to teenagers at an inner city Washington DC school, Tabi Bonney knew there was more for him in the music industry.

With a long family history of music behind him, and the world of potential in front of him, Tabi Bonney decided it was time he put his discipline that he attained in his rigorous academic work to the test. While in grad school he met his now close friend and mentor Haziq Ali, and together they formed the group and independent record label Organized Rhyme. The first album to come from Organized Rhyme was A Fly Guy’s Theme which was a huge hit in the DMV area due to Tabi’s use of popular colloquial terms like “Bamma” “The Pocket” And so on. The use of Go-Go music and other aspects of the Districts originality made this album a hit on the airwaves as well as with a lot of youth in Washington.  Now with one record under his belt successfully, Tabi Bonney had the public’s attention, and nothing would be able to stop this driving force.

Bonney set out to make more moves independently. One of those moves was being the creator of a boutique fashion line by the name of Bonney Runway. Another huge venture that Bonney has succeeded in was creating his own production company called “Cool Kids Forever.” With Cool Kids he has produced videos for poplar artists in the DMV area such as Wale, Raheem Devaughn, and the popular Go-Go inspired group, Mambo Sauce. While momentarily doing things outside of the music industry, Organized Rhyme produced the sophomore album Dope in 2009. With one album under his belt, Dope was definitely an album of maturity in which he spoke more of Africa and bettering himself in the music industry. After the release of his sophomore album it seemed as though Tabi Bonney was here to stay in the rap game one way or another.

In 2010 the “big guns” were pulled out. In the album Fresh, Bonney takes a turn in his music which inevitably is welcomed as a positive change. In is Junior album, he works with a significant amount of heavy weight rap artists like G.O.O.D Music’s Pusha T, fellow DMV based artist Wale, Curren$y, old friend and still mentor Haziq Ali and he also brings back the smooth voice of R&B artist Raheem Devaughn. Although he has worked with some of these artists in the past, this is said to be one of the most diverse of all his other works. Tabi reached out to folk singer Lykke Li and the alternative party group Black Eyed Peas for assistance on the album. (
The senior and most recent album of Tabi Bonney’s is The Summer Years. The highly anticipated upon release album was a hit and has kept Bonney’s career afloat. Another reason why this album was so loved is because the person that has influenced him so much and the reason why he was exposed to music initially, his father, blessed a song called Parachute with his sage musical influence. Summer Years was heavily produced by Ski Beats; a connection that Bonney made through former Rocafella CEO Dame Dash. Against his interest not to work with big time producers and being independent musically, Tabi Bonney has worked with Dame Dash and it has proved to be beneficial for his rap career.

The West African, Washington DC based rap star Tabi Bonney is an extremely influential person on all levels. His educational background gave him the stamina and sense of longevity to pursue his true passion which is music. With 4 albums and 3 mixtapes under his belt, an independent record label, a production company, a clothing long and 5th album on its way by the title of Endless summer– a continuation of Summer Years–  one can assume that there is no was that the driving force that is Tabi Bonney can ever be stopped; he would never allow it!

Tabi Bonney Biography: Washington Post “Tabi Bonney’s hip-hop stems from his Father’s Musical Influence

Tabi was born in Togo in 1977, his father was a musician who was one of the most celebrated musician in his country. His father played guitar and an Afro-funk singing style that was combined with the sparkle of soulous, highlife, and a little bit of reggae. His father met his mother after a gig in the capital of Lomé. Her name was Jo and she was stationed there through the peace corps. They both got married had a family and travelled between Washington and Togo. But after his father Itadi wrote a song called “Mayi Africa” which called for social unity that criticized the then Togolese President  Gnassingle Eyadema, they fled to the east because the political situation got too extreme. They went to Benin, then France and finally to Washington. When Tabi was a teen he would always go down in the basement to listen to his dad rehearse. His parent’s expectations for him to go to college they never expected him to be a rapper. As a pre-med student Tabi spent most of his nights rapping with a group called Organized Rhyme. His father was was shocked when Tabi said he was a rapper, he never wanted  Tabi to be a musician. But he remembered how he wanted to be a musician but his parent’s didn’t want him to be so he just let Tabi become one. After college Tablol worked as a science teacher at Roosevelt High School in Petworth but gave it up after two years. His mother clipped the classified ads and spread them out on the living room coffee table hoping he would change his mind. But in 2006 he changed their minds when his single “The Pocket” popped up on local radio stations. His father was amazed on how talented his son was, he says he’s a whole different person on stage. Now his father’s only wish is for him to get a label.

Tabi Bonney Bio

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. (

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”. (

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 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 ( 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.

Culture of Togo.

Dowling, Marcus. The Washingtonian.  “Meet the Muscian Tabi Bonney”, 12 Jan 2012.  http//

History of Togo.

Okay Africa website.  11/29/10.

Stoopgirl, “Q & A Tabi Bonnney”. 8/8/2012.

Tabi Bonney Album Review – “The Summer Years”

This album is very diverse in its cuts, mostly due to the various other artists Tabi has collaborated with.  There is nothing that I heard that relates to immigration. In my opinion immigration may not be central to his lyrics because he attended High School in Washington D.C., and does not necessarily connect strongly with the immigration experience.   The song “Material Girls” has a strong European techno sound, and there is more French spoken than on his previous albums; he refers to his home as a ‘chateau’.  Even though Tabi does not speak about the immigration experience in his lyrics, his album reflects the influence of his early life in Togo, which was heavily influenced by the French.  On  ”Hello and Goodnight”, Tabi’s father, Itadi Bonney, speaks French in the background, and the song has a more old school reggae sound.  In the song “Big Dreams”, that has a big band feel,  Tabi refers to himself as having ‘exotic pedigree’, which more than likely refers to his African heritage, it also includes some French, ‘au revoir’.   Tabi’s collaboration with Matt Berlis, who plays the piano, makes the song “Chasing” unique.  In this song Tabi sings that he is an outsider and wants the city he is from to say ‘I miss you’, however, it is difficult to conclude that he is referring to Togo or Washington DC., but since Tabi has been living in DC, the reference could possibly be that he wants Togo to feel he is a favorite son.  On this album Tabi mentions a few different African Americans when providing examples of success; MJ  (Michael Jordan),  Michel Jackson, Dru Hill (an R & B group).  “Hip Hop and Love” has a jazz sound piano, mixed with the clapping rhythmic percussion and big bass, is a big contrast with “Beautiful Lover” that has the background chorus, and strong bass beats with string instruments.

This in my opinion this album really reflects how much Tabi has grown as a musician;  he stepped out of his hip-hop genre on many of the cuts.  Tabi’s diverse approach on this album is appealing to me.


In his sophomore album “Dope” Tabi Bonney comes a bit harder in terms of the production quality, and in some cases his lyrics. Listening to this album I definitely hear more maturity, more mention of Africa and his home town Lome, Togo, and of course, the same amount of party songs about girls, weed and everything in between.

Although this is a more mature album in terms of his lyrics, the messages in his songs are still the same: getting money and making it big in the music industry. The first track on Dope “The Blow” expresses the same kind of hunger that he has for making it in the music industry, “grinding” toward that goal, and more importantly, doing it all himself free from any big time record labels. “I’m a superstar, I don’t need nobody else, where ma latter at? I’ma climb this myself.” It seems as though no one is going to come in between Tabi Bonney and his dreams for further success in music. Along with this hunger, he also has some cockiness to go with his rhymes while giving some mention to his African roots.

“Them Africans is coming up; I should know, I’m one of them. Wale, what up!?” As he has expressed in previous interviews with various music journalists, he shows much respect to artists like Wale that also hale from DC and have African nationality. Although artists like Wale are on heavy rotation at the radio stations and in media in general, this still doesn’t stop Tabi Bonney from speaking his mind and continuing on in the rap game and it doesn’t stop him from, every so often, giving credit when credit is due like he did in the aforementioned lyric from a song entitled Duhh on his sophomore album.
The intended audience for this and other albums that Tabi Bonney has released mainly consists of young adults/teenagers in the DC area. I came to this conclusion based on the music and some of the slang terminology he uses. For example, there is a particular kind of music that is ever popular in the DMV area called Go-Go music. This kind of energetic music contains a mix of typically snare drums, keyboard/organs, and tambourine-like instruments. This genre of music is extremely popular in his work and also within other artist of DC. Furthermore, the use of common colloquial terms that originated in the DC area such as “Bammers, and lunchin’’ are more of a hint that his music on Dope and on other albums are intended for the younger listeners.
As a whole I really appreciated this album collectively. Although Tabi Bonney stirs clear of informative lyrics as far as politics and his own personal African background goes, he does acknowledge the fact he does have roots in Africa and does express his love for his country and his ethnicity.

Tabi Bonney Album Review: The Summer Years

Yes Tabi Bonney does use a language other than English, but it was only one word of French. In his songs “Feeling” and “Big Dreams” he says “au revoir.” Tabu didn’t say anything about his own immigration experiences in this album. Tabi didn’t say much about African immigration either. He did’t represent his country or Africa. I think he might have moved on from his country, altough he is Togo he represents D.C. much more than where he was originally born. He didn’t talk about social or political topics either. The intended audience I believe is people who like mainstream music. his songs were more focused on mainstream people who love hip-hop. No he didn’t mention African Americans at all. I thought the album was pretty good he did change his tactics in making this album. He talked more about girls, haters, and drugs than anything African related. My favorite song off the album is “Chasing” because I just love how he changed it up and added the piano as the fill instead of a beat. Another reason why I love it so much is that what he is saying in the song is no matter what chase your dreams don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. If you work hard for it you may be able to reach your dream. I truly believe in that, reaching your dream takes a lot of hard work, but in the end it is all worth it.

Tabi Album Review – “Fresh” (2010)

The audience for this album seems to be mostly for the dance clubbers; although, as is the case with other Bonney albums there is such a variety it is difficult to put it in one category. Even though Bonney does not mention immigration, the song, “Go Away” could be referring to getting out of Africa; he mentions it is 98 degrees and he not breaking a sweat and needs to leave. On the same cut he asks ‘garcon’ (French for waiter), to bring the check so he can leave, and unlike most of the songs the background sounds are very mixed and convoluted almost sounding like noise. But, then on the song “Yeah Go” he refers to himself as “this Togo kid is bigger than anything you ever did” proudly identifying with his African heritage, and says he has a plan like Obama. In this song I can hear the congo drums, and the voice undulations used in a lot of African music.

The dance club sounding cuts, “Radio” from a previous album, “Nuthin’ But a Hero”, “Sunlight”, “Blending” and Galaxy” sound focused on a mainstream dance audience; however, on “Sunlight” the African influence is heard with the bells and wooden blocks used as instrument, the big bass beat, and the French spoken in the beginning of the song, “como talle vous” (how are you).  Both “Blending” and “Galaxy” are not as rhythmic, and seems geared to a young crossover crowd. The softer “Winner’s Tourney” has a kind of old school European dance hall sound in the background with whistling and sticks percussion, and he says in French he wants “beaucoup” (many) good things.  The French language is an influence from living in Togo.

The two songs on the album that I prefer sound more like reggae, “Killer People” and “Fever”.  On “Fever”, Bonney collaborated Raheem DeVaugh, an African American singer,  and on “Killer People”  the background singers sounded Caribbean and Bonney had help from  Wale, a Nigerian American rapper from Washington, D.C. ( both his parents are Nigerian).

Album Review: “Dope”

Tabi Bonney’s album, “Dope” (2009) is meant for a different audience than his first album.  I think this one was to an audience of fans of popular African American rappers, who are interested in knowing what Tabi is about.

Immigration is not mentioned on this album, however he may be  representing his country as a place that is tough; in the song “No Sucker”  Tabi mentions being “surrounded by Lions” , in discussing being  held down, and rushed by fans. On the last cut of the album, “Kick Rocks”,  Tabi refers to the political turmoil in Africa, and mentions leaving guns behind like the British, and revolutions,  he says the gun talk is “played out”, which is possibly a reference to leaving behind the political upheaval that took place in Togo (, p. 8)).   A clear reference to Africa, is when he says he was getting attention like a Sudanese, when referring to the groupies that were attacking him; Sudan has been at war for nearly ¾ of its existence (Sudan: History).  Then, on the song, he refers to himself as an African machine when referencing being successful, and being allergic to being poor, and as he did on a song on his first album sang in French, “c’est transfor” (?).  From a social perspective Tabi talks a lot about working hard to achieve success.   In the song “Go Hard” Bonney mentions two African Americans, Martin Luther King and President Obama, as representations of success. On “Rock Bammas”, Tabi  says he will go hard or starve, and specifically mentions being in Togo making music with the Pops, which could be a reference to making music with his father, who was a huge music star in Togo.  It was reported in a Washington Post article that Tabi would watch his dad pack dance floors across West Africa (

On this album one can hear heavy percussions and drum beats on most of the album. It was not surprising to discover that rhythm, and drum instruments make up most of the African instruments, but I also learned that African instruments are used to communicate by imitating speech patterns (characteristics of African music/   The most popular African percussive instrument is the djembe drums, which are often heard in reggae music, and are popular in West Africa.  There were instruments on some of the album tracks that I did not recognize.  There are many other percussion rhythms used in African music, clap sticks, foot stomping, hand clapping, bells and rattles.  (African musical instruments/

Many aspects of African music are heard on many of Bonney’s tracks: In the song “Go Hard”, one can hear the finger popping, bells, drums and voice inflections. But also, like the first album, there was a European influence; in the cut “The Blow” the traditional accordion is heard, but the more modern techno music European influence is heard on “Radio”. What was also described as a unique aspect of African music, that is heard in some of Tabi’s music, is that a variety of sounds are used by singers, some that are not always pleasant to hear (contemporary African art). On the track, “The Blow” the grunts and voice noises, and on “Duhh” the clapping and high pitched whistling. Also, on “Kick Rocks, women repeated the word “kick” over and over imitating the sound of an MC record-scratching, along with an instrument that sounds like birds chirping.  The cut “Rich Kids” has a reggae sound and singers voices range from low deep sounds to high voices.

My opinion of this album is that it was more upbeat, and definitely more mature than his first album, with more variety.  I also thought more African influences could be heard on this alblum.’s-musical-influence

Tabi Bonney Album Review: Fresh

In Tabi’s album, he does use a language other than English but’s its only a little French. For example in his song “Yeah Go” he says “au revoir”, another example would be in his song “Sunlight” were in the beginning he says “como tale vu.” He didn’t talk much about his immigration experiences in this album either. Tabi Bonney didn’t say much about African immigration. Tabi represemts his country and Africa in his song “Yeah Go” he says “effortless you cannot mess with this Togo kid is bigger than anything you’ve ever did, West Africais up in the b**ch.” I believe the intended audience is people who have a dream but can’t reach it or don’t really try to achieve that dream. The other intended audience is guys who are trying to chase after girls. He did’nt necessarily talk about African Americans. The album had a mix of beats and electro-pop. I enjoyed every song off the album, by far the best album I have ever heard. I never really liked a whole album from an artist before I only liked about one or two songs off the album. But Tabi’s album would be the very first album where I liked every song. My all time favorite off the album is “Sunlight” I just loved the mix of the piano and the xylophone. The song hit me deep in my heart and the lyrics are just so calming. Whenever I play it, it always puts a smile on my face and gets me ready for my day.