Philly hip-hop legend Bahamadia is back with DIALED UP 2, the second installment in a project of spontaneous self-recording she first began in 2013. The series strives to highlight how some seriously impressive recording that can be done outside of a traditional studio environment — Bahamadia recorded all 12 minutes of DIALED UP 2 on her cell phone. Continue reading →
You can’t talk about Philly hip-hop in the 90s without talking about the queen: the most awesome Bahamadia, who first stepped to the mic in ’93 and has been active at it in some form ever since. Continue reading →
“High Key” is a series of profiles conceived with the intent to tell the story of Philly’s diverse musical legacy by spotlighting individual artists in portrait photography, as well as with an interview focusing on the artist’s experience living, creating, and performing in this city. “High Key” will be featured in biweekly installments, as the series seeks to spotlight artists both individually and within the context of his or her respective group or artistic collective.
Philly’s contributions to hip hop stretch back to the roots of the form, but few artists manage to become icons of the elements of style and with an impact and influence as far-reaching as our own Bahamadia.
Having gotten her start as a DJ in the 80s, Bahamadia had the opportunity to hone her craft right in the cultural crucible of a small Southwest-Philly-based production studio — an unassuming outfit that helped train and produce the likes of KRS-One and Boyz II Men. By 1993, Bahamadia debuted her unique brand of steady, potent cadence with her first hit single, “Funk Vibe,” and with championship from Gang Starr and The Roots crew moved on more hit records, and collaborations with the likes of Talib Kweli, Morcheeba, Erykah Badu, and Lauryn Hill.
Here, Bahamadia talks candidly about the early days in the gauntlet of underground performances, and about grateful and proud she is to be a Philly artist. She’s paying it back to her community, too, working now with disenfranchised kids from her neighborhood.
And as an artist who describes herself as “built to do what I do,” Bahamadia is still touring, still working on new music, still entertaining all the requests from fans for deliveries of her catalog of hits. “They always wanna hear it that traditional way,” she marveled, with a chuckle, “they don’t wanna hear you remixin’, they wanna hear it just like the record every night.” She observes of her fans, “people process and interpret things way different than you do! You just give your interpretation for how you internalize and express things, but somebody writes a lyric, and your supporters will come up to you like ‘yo! When you said that it touched my soul!,’ and that gives me more insight! And then I think too as you grow as an artist and as an individual, the lyrics mean something totally different than they did when you first created them.”
“It’s the illest thing, but that happens a lot.” She adds, “It’s cool, ‘cause it keeps the conversation going.”
Philly rapper Bahamadia released her debut record Kollage way back in 1996. Tonight, she celebrates the album’s 20th anniversary with a performance at Johnny Brenda’s. Nostalgic fans of 90s hip-hop won’t want to miss out on this. Grab tickets via the XPN Concert Calendar. Continue reading →
Well this is some incredible news. Philly hip-hop great Bahamadia‘s breakout 1996 album Kollage turns 20 years old next month, and she’ll celebrate the anniversary with a headlining show at Johnny Brenda’s on Thursday, April 21st. Continue reading →
Ten years ago, self-proclaimed “hip hop queen” Bahamadia released a retrospective record B-Girl Sessions – The Best of Bahamadia 1993-2004. The limited-run compilation resurfaced this weekend on Bandcamp, and features the Philly rapper’s original tracks as well as remixes of popular songs that she appeared on, ranging from Erykah Badu’s neo-soul classic “Love of My Life” to Britney Spears’ inescapable pop gem “Toxic”. A few guest spots with local hip-hop kings The Roots (on “Push Up Ya Lighter” and “Proceed III”) also appear on the collection, as well as collaborations with Talib Kweli and King Britt. As far as the present goes, Bahamadia released a phone-recorded track called “Dialed Up” as a teaser for her anticipated fourth album Here.
(Hear More – Philly hiphop queen Bahamadia returns with Dialed Up, an 11 minute mix made entirely on her phone)
She might not be a household name, but Bahamadia was a much-respected mainstay of the Philly hiphop community in the late-90s, releasing music at a steady clip well into to the 00’s (and even appearing at the first incarnation of Ladyfest Philly in 2003).
From her 1996 debut LP Kollage (produced by Guru and the legendary DJ Premier, and streamable on Spotify if you’ve never heard it), she landed several choice collaborations – with major national players like Talib Kweli, Mr. Lif and Erykah Badu, as well as local names like Army of Pharaohs and Jedi Mind Tricks. A couple releases followed up – including 2006’s Good Rap Music – and her modus operandi throughout them has always been a mix of funky, body-moving rhythms with a globally-conscious lyrical perspective.
This week brings a flurry of activity in Bahamadia’s world, with good reason – she just released her first new collection of music in almost seven years. Dialed-Up is a fierce, tightly-packaged eleven minute continuous mix that she produced, wrote and recorded entirely on her handheld mobile device. I’m not sure what’s more impressive – the way this EP was made or the fact that it sounds light years better than any record produced under those circumstances reasonably should. It also signals that the release Bahamadia’s long in-the-making LP Here might be just on the horizon. Give Dialed Up a listen below, and download it for $1 at Bandcamp.
For as long as I have been alive, Hip Hop has had a home in the city of Philadelphia. Some of my earliest experiences with this music and culture would become inextricably linked to my understanding of my own personal identity and my place within the broader community. Following its initiation in the early 70s, Hip Hop quickly flowered outward from its homebase in The Bronx, moving into urban centers throughout the nation, taking root and intermingling with each city’s local slang / vernacular, music, dance and visual art cultures.
Long acknowledged as one of the original flashpoints for Graffiti culture, Philadelphia Hip Hop’s heart has always been intertwined with the streets. The first generation of Philly youth touched by this cultural revolution would immediately hit the ground running, developing their own unique local scene and quickly producing a number of MCs and DJs (Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince, Cool C, 3X Dope, Schoolly D, Lady B etc.) that would reach great creative heights and commercial success. Aside from the commercial victories of a handful of acts, Philadelphia’s formative Hip Hop scene remained largely unheralded, birthing a new class of solo acts, groups and crews who would never attain more than local notoriety. Continue reading →