Tabi Bonney

Tabi Bonney

The name Bonney might not ring bells if you weren’t a popular kid in high school, a cool adult who stayed glued to MTV networks or wasn’t a fan of an Afro Funk superstar Itadi Bonney in the 1990s. Well, than again if you’re from the D.C. area, you might know of a “fly guy” by the name of Tabi Bonney. Haven’t you seen the guy with the dark shades, the roller skates and the Bonney Runway clothing line?

He’s also the emcee who’s directed videos for Grammy nominated Raheem Devaghn, celebrity status emcee Wale and even his own. He puts stuff in “The Pocket” and says “Syce it,” when the “Beat Rock” isn’t hard enough. OK, Bonney is the son of musician Itadi Bonney and has hit awesome points of the Earth including Europe, Africa and the U.S. So, now you know why The Daily Bread decided to sit down with a cultured musician, Master’s degree recipient and an Organized Rhyme limb by the name of Tabi Bonney. Here’s an official introduction.

“A superstar is a person that has no fear of the world. They step out there and they live life. They are not afraid to be themselves and they live life to the fullest. Whether it be (shoot) going to L.A. tomorrow or going to Iceland next month.”

Format: Let’s talk about your slang and lingo. Explain how you come up with these words- are they original or recycled?
Tabi Bonney: Most of it is pretty much just D.C. slang, but its just placing it and making it your own. Just like I was saying at the beginning of “The Pocket”- nobody was saying that, it was just a term that they would use in Go-Go Bands or even in music. For instance you would say, “This groove is in the pocket.” You know what I mean? I just took it, made it my own and it kinda became slang here. It’s something similar to what the Wu would do or Ghost- you know what I mean?

Format: Yeah. Let’s talk about Organized Rhyme, your partner and the efforts to from the group. What is Organized Rhyme all about?
Tabi Bonney: We formed it pretty much in college, me and my friend Haziq Ali. It started out like (shoot) lets just say we got a label, just like anybody use [laughs]. You know its a million people like “Yo, I’m the CEO of my own label” and stuff like that. We actually took it seriously and I think its at the point and we can definitely be a new age Roc-A-Fella, a new age Cash Money or No Limit. At this point, there are no Indie artists who are on MTV Jams that are on VH1 Soul on a consistent basis, like me. Again, to be on the regular MTV or MTV2 like us, there’s no other Indie label that has done that.

Format: What was your reaction when you saw yourself on MTV2 or VH1 for the first time?
Tabi Bonney: I dunno if I got excited like most people would be, because I’m always thinking “OK, that’s good,” but I’m like, “What I can do next?” I’m always thinking… and I think that’s one thing, I think about me- I need to more so enjoy what’s going on. But I’m always thinking ahead like, “We need to do this and we need to do that.” Say you take a test but you didn’t graduate out of that class yet, but you got an “A” on that test. That’s how I felt when I saw it. I was like, aight cool, I’m happy to get an “A” on that test, but I know I want to graduate out of that class and master it. You know?

Format: Yea.
Tabi Bonney: Yea.

Tabi Bonney

Format: Well speaking of classes, you were a teacher for a couple of years. Talk to us about some of the similarities, differences and transitions from working for $35,000 a year, having a 9-5 to being a full time musician and constantly moving.
Tabi Bonney: I taught for two years and got my Masters at the same time. I already knew that I was going to be a full-time rapper or musician. I went into it putting my money to the side and reinvesting it into myself, at every point. With that, you learn a big deal on how to be disciplined and apply it to your artistry and to the actual music business. That’s what I can say I really learned, from say going to college, getting my Masters (even though it was just in Biology and stuff) and taking those same disciplines and applying those to your art and your craft. That’s why I think I’m so diligent and ready to accomplish goals in the music industry and such. I analyze everything. Just like when you’re involved in class and having to break everything down, sitting- I just watch videos and that’s how I even got into directing my own videos. I just watch and just break down every scene and break. You know what I mean?

Format: It’s impressive. In your videos you’re rolling down the street with shades, you have your own clothing line, you have the fro gig- How important is “swag” when discussing Tabi Bonney?
Tabi Bonney: [Laughing] I’m not one of those to hop on the new trends. I’m just myself man. I guess it’s personified and the world is just finally getting to see it but it’s not me imitating anything or me saying something that I’m not. I also think that’s one of the reasons why I’ve been successful. I was that popular kid (or boy) in high school. I did sit on the basketball team, I did tight rap…with everything that I did, I wanted to be the best at it. I think its just showing itself at this point. A lot of other artists aren’t separating themselves because they’re not being true to themselves. I guess you can classify it as a “swag” but I hate using that as the typical lingo.

Format: Word. Both you and Wale are from the D.C. area and you both have roots in Africa. How important is promoting Africa in your music?
Tabi Bonney: That’s where I was born and that’s where half of my family is from (the other half is from D.C. because my mother’s from D.C.). I guess you can say that I’m a true African American. It’s just good to know your roots and for me it allows me to not be afraid of simply being myself and being me. You know what I mean? I can express myself say, on an international level and its not one continent that I’m stuck to. I have a lot more to speak but or a lot more experiences and worldviews to express.

Tabi Bonney

Format: You have the album, Fly Guys Theme but what are you currently working on?
Tabi Bonney: One of the things is the next album, which is entitled; Dope meets Fresh, Fresh meets Superstar and is slated to drop this fall, in October. We’re trying to make sure that the business side is straight, as a bonafide independent label. We should make a bigger splash this time around. I’m actually shooting Wale’s video, with him featuring Bun B and Pusha T from the Clipse. The other thing is improving upon the clothing line, Bonney Runway.

Format: Give me your definition of a superstar because in your track “Syce it’” you said, “You tired of the same thing, I think I want to be a superstar.”
Tabi Bonney: [Laughing] A superstar is a person that has no fear of the world. They step out there and they live life. They are not afraid to be themselves and they live life to the fullest. Whether it be (shoot) going to L.A. tomorrow or going to Iceland next month. They are not afraid to let go of a regular 9-5 and the mundane and walk upon an unbeaten path, when everybody thought, that it wasn’t possible.

Format: Is it possible to be a broke superstar? I think I’m a superstar but the cash flow is crazy.
Tabi Bonney: [Laughing] Everybody has their values in peace- you’re still a superstar.

Format: Thank you. It means so much [laughs].
Tabi Bonney: I was a little broke, just last year, so it’s always values in peace.

Tabi Bonney

Format: What does “sycin” mean? How can I use it in sentence?
Tabi Bonney: I can give you examples more so than an actual definition [laughing]. Say you buy a hotdog, you got your regular hot dog but in order to “syce” your hot dog you have to put ketchup, mustard and relish on it. That’s when you syce your hotdog. Say you buy a pair of shoes, to “syce” your shoes you have to get a whole outfit to go with it. You can’t be wearin’ the same beat up jeans and stuff. “Sycin’ it” simply means to make something better.

Format: We’re sycin’ this interview something crazy [laughing]. However, what more do you want to say to the people?
Tabi Bonney: Just for those who haven’t checked me out yet, my music is available on iTunes and you guys can definitely go and check that out. I guess the only way to explain to my music is those popular kids at the table that you always wanted to come over and sit with. So, it’s not for everybody. You know what I mean? It’s for those hipsters, those popular kids and those who are not afraid of living life.

Format: That’s so funny dude- it’s only for superstars. Shout out to all the superstars.
Tabi Bonney: Well yeah! Everybody’s not going to get it. They’re not…and we don’t expect them to [laughs].

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Dominque Howse

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