My family is from D.C., and I have listened to his music before this class, and have associated Tabi with D.C. So to be able to really analyze his music and identify any African influences I did some research. In an interview with Jamati.com Bonney explains that he was born in Lome, Togo, West Africa, but his mother is from N.E. D.C. In an article,“Tabi Bonney on Togo, ‘Fresh’, his famous father and more…” I learned that Tabiabue Bonney was born in 1977 and for the first 13 years of his life he traveled back and forth from Togo to Washington, D.C.
Looking at Togo’s history, I learned that after WWII Togo the United Nations mandated that Togo be entrusted to Britain and France (historyofnations.net). In 1956 France made Togo an independent republic within the French Union (historyworld.net). The European influence in Togo was huge.
This album was Bonney’s s first and seems focused on appealing to a cool, mainstream, D.C. hip-hop audience. Nothing I heard related to African immigration or his personal immigration experience. As a matter of fact he seems almost defiant in declaring that he is from D.C. I did not hear either African American issues, or politics, referenced in the songs. However, Tabi does talk about the big social issues in D.C., drugs on the street and unemployment in the song “Dope”. It was in the song, “Escalator” that I heard a language other than English on the album, when he spoke French, and referred to a girl as “tres jolie”. The European influence could be heard on the song, “You”, with the accordion, as the featured musical instrument being played. On most of the songs though, the biggest African influence heard on Tabi’s album is that the background music is mostly percussion with strong rhythmic drum beats, such as those in the song “Dope”. In addition to the strong drum beats on the song “Beat Rock” one can hear the various background musical sounds that seem to originate from Africa.
I enjoyed this album, but think the ones that he produced later were better, because the messages were more mature as he became a veteran.
Alusa-Brown, Shirlene. “Tabi Bonney – From Togo to DC”. 10 June 2008. http://www.Jamati.com/online/music/tabi-bonney-from-togo-to-dc./
“History of Togo”, phttp://www.historyofnations.net/africa/togo.html
“History of Togo”, http://www.historyworld.net/wrldhis/PlainTextHistories.asp?historyid=ad42