“I get most of my wisdom from woman. I practice it on my brothers.” In the track Us, Aja Monet roll-calls her women as the track cites James Brown’s It’s a Man’s World … “my litany for survival”. The track sets up an album that quietly but firmly secures Aja’s place in my own roll-call of inspirational women.
Collaborating with Brooklyn poet/DJ Def Sound back in 2010, Aja Monet delivered this soulful electronic Hip Hop album where the words take front step, bedded in some at times Chaka Khan-esque, at times Herbie Hancock-esque grooves, with enjoyable side trips into latin horn parties. Soft deliveries of both soft and hard words, poetic interludes, refreshing humour (for e.g., in Recess Def and Aja rif around love play: “In the words of Pablo Neruda, I want to do with you what spring does to the cherry trees.”)
Co-editing with Saul Williams the brilliant Chorus: a literary mixtape (a kind of cut-up / remix of 100 poems, released late 2012) ... Aja wrote “We (all poets) are the voice of the Chorus- like in ancient Greek theater- the chorus was always the voice of the people, the voice of reason, the voice of democracy.” Aja, who famously became the youngest individual to ever win the Nuyorican Poet’s Cafe Grand Slam champion title in 2007 (at 19), is a voice of truth and gentle strength. Working with poetry as a therapeutic tool with at-risk inner city kids, Aja makes her words count.
Last year in Brussels I had the pleasure of playing for the women of Warrior Poets, who are this week presenting a show at La Chocolaterie featuring Aja alongside Brussels-based Botswana-born poet/performer Andreattah, Elli Severino Fernandes, and Prisca Agnes Nishimwe. If you’re near Brussels, be here! > > https://www.facebook.com/events/113722932135596/?fref=ts