Von Pea Inspired by Spike Lee and Old High School Journal
Tanya Morgan member Donwill based his debut ‘Don Cusack in High Fidelity’ on the romantic comedy ‘High Fidelity,’ and now, it’s fellow member Von Pea‘s turn to look to movies for inspiration. The Brooklyn native is gearing up for the release of his first solo offering, ‘Pea’s Gotta Have It,’ that bigs up BK like another famous resident.
“I thought about what Spike Lee always represented as far as being an artist from Brooklyn,” Von tells The BoomBox of his album title, which takes its name from the director’s 1986 debut feature film ‘She’s Gotta Have It.’ “When I thought about Spike Lee and his movies, he represented every kind of Brooklyn. It wasn’t just the hood, it wasn’t just the Italian folks, it was just the whole Brooklyn in general. That’s what I wanted my record to be. I wanted it to be Brooklyn, but universal.”
Starting the album in 2007, Von felt compelled to record the LP after dusting off his high school journal and rereading his thoughts from the time. The notebook, which he found to be ‘hilarious,’ put his adult life into perspective, showing just how much he’d grown since grappling with the throes of adolescence.
“Even down to girls, I just think back to how oblivious I was to girls sitting next to me and trying to start up a conversation with me,” he reflects. “I was always such a daydreamer. I didn’t really love high school, I just was waiting for it to be over more than anything.”
But while he strolls down memory lane on the release, he’s also attempting to reach today’s youth by putting them on game to music that he listened to growing up. ‘Pea’s Gotta Have It’ is a crackling ’90s-influenced collection of boom bap tunes complemented by samples and lyrical nods to Lauryn Hill and Guru, taking the motif one step further with its first track ‘Freestyle Live from Low Key’s,’ a remake of Notorious B.I.G.‘s classic ‘The Wickedest’ freestyle.
“Tanya Morgan, we did a show a while back and on stage, we started singing the Snoop song ‘Ain’t No Fun,’ and it was at a college and these kids had no idea what song that was. We were like, wait. Are we just f—ing old now?” he says with a laugh. “I thought the best way to represent Biggie in a homegrown Brooklyn tribute was to do that freestyle and to start my album off that way, because I guess I just felt it was a certain authenticity that came with picking something I thought was obscure but that heads would recognize.”
After the release of the new album, Von plans to reunite with his Tanya Morgan brethren to record the follow-up to their critically acclaimed 2009 full-length ‘Brooklynatti.’ And instead of trying to recapture the magic on the sophomore release, the group is infusing their nostalgic aesthetic with experimental sounds.
“There are just some people who are not trying to be that imaginative with music,” he says. “They just want something that feels good and they don’t want to have to look at a map and go through all of that. So the next album is just more about sailing and good music. We don’t want to get too lost in the concept or anything.”