Hard To Pin Down

Hard To Pin Down

  • Saheer Umar
  • Tokion
  • November 08, 2006

We don't just mean stylistically, since she heavily borrows from golden-era free jazz, floats on a cloud of dusted hip hop and possesses a voice that penetrates the deepest of souls. We mean that she is literally difficult to get a hold of. It took us weeks of postering to get her on the phone. Once we finally chatted, we learned it's tough to be a 22-year-old singer fighting to save the world from self-destructing and turn dark hearts to the light.

Your album opens with 'New Orleans,' and the first word you utter is, 'murderer.' What was your intent? I'm one of the type of people that thinks it's important to get all of your feelings out in whatever creative form you do, no matter what. Because that means you're standing for peace, regardless.

Your sound, especially with that track, is obviously rooted in spiritual free jazz of the '60s, when there was a lot of political unrest. That's a very inspiring thing to hear. That means maybe I might be on the right track. But for me, I don't see no time, as far as that situation goes. It's about right and wrong, you know? When you're talking about human rights, it's still just a question of the issues. That's why it's more timeless.

What was it that attracted you to the hip hop sound? Some days I do wish I could be organized enough to say, 'I'm going to be a jazz balladeer for the rest of my life.' We're not all here to be just a hip hop trend. Brand Nubian wasn't hoping to be a trend...

I don't mind whatever time period they place upon us. I just know that we're here to bring the funk. And it's really awake, and it's African greatness to all humanity. It belongs to all humanity, because it is all humanity. That's what I know about it. This is my heart that was built to transmit like this: I just want everybody to do their own thing and hopefully everybody frees up a little bit and won't worry about being cool all of the time...