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Name: Adam Bernard
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Artist Of The Week - Taajwar
Monday, April 26, 2010

The Season of Sole comes to a close this week, and for the fourth and final feature in the series I’m bringing you an emcee whose kick game is just as sick as his lyrical one. His name is Taajwar and his song on the Know You Got SOLE soundtrack, titled “Kick Game Sick,” is no joke. A Crown Heights, Brooklyn, native who’s experience on the mic dates back well over a decade, and even includes recording at Chuck D’s home, Taajwar is just as serious about his music as he is his sneakers. In fact, it’s his love of hip-hop that keeps him rhyming, as he explains “once I started seeing it devolve I had to do something, cuz if we don’t steer the course of our own music its gonna change into something that we hate instead of something that we love and built.”

Taajwar has built something great with his music, and this week I caught up with him to find out more about what he’s done over the years, including the boost he received from his brother, how he’s looking to pay it forward, and the delivery he hopes to get from Nike Chairman Phil Knight.

Adam Bernard: Why don’t you start me off with a little bit of the Taajwar story? What’s your history in music, and how do I correctly pronounce your name?
Taajwar: Me and music go back forever cuz it’s in the blood, but me and hip-hop go back to the 80’s when Moms wouldn’t let us listen to it if it wasn’t conscious. (My parents) were educators and activists in the 60’s till now, so we grew up on a healthy diet of KRS-One and Public Enemy. I started rhyming in fifth grade because my older brothers, Visual Poetics and Forge, used to rhyme. My cousins Wiz and Wordsworth used to push me into battle ciphers any chance they got, knowing that I was shy. I went to junior high with Omar Epps, Sha Stimuli, Jimmy Cozier and a host of others. Jimmy used to try to hook me up to do songs with Biggie when Jim was an A&R at Arista. Then in the 90’s me and my family, Bravestar, Forge, Visual, Water, Khordz and Specs formed Little Egypt. We were like Menudo switching line-ups and touring all around the US collegiate circuit. We even did international tours in Poland and Brazil, with albums and singles in Australia, Russia, England and a few other countries that didn’t give us all of our doe. It’s all love though. It was hard to track sales then. As far as the name, I get that a lot, but it’s just like saying “Dodge car” really fast.

Adam Bernard: How did you land on the Know You Got SOLE soundtrack?
Taajwar: I’ve known Ope and (Benjamin) Hooks and Substantial from the music game for over ten years. Damn, I ain’t supposed to put numbers on it like that. My bad fellas. We did joints together and actually had 9/11 derail a project we were doing with Little Egypt. When Ope had a sneaker joint coming out it was a natural thing. Me and kicks go way back to Nike Air Stabs and Mowabba. I remember Playboy kicks, Ballys and British Knights, Troop sneakers with the jacket to match, or some Diadora...

Adam Bernard: Damn, man, that’s a lotta sneakers. I know your song on the album is “Kick Game Sick,” and it sounds like your kick game really is sick.
Taajwar: Well, that’s kind of like a question of endowment. I mean, I would hate to brag about my massive collection, but you know, If you got it, flaunt it. But seriously, I’m from Crown Heights, Brooklyn, which is arguably the flyest neighborhood in the city. Franklin Ave., where I’m from, everybody dresses fly. That’s actually why I’m probably such a Lo-life and a J-rocker, that’s Polo head and Jordan lover for the uninitiated.

Adam Bernard: What else are you working on right now, musically?
Taajwar: For starters, I can finally say my long awaited solo project, which turned into a double CD, has now morphed into two and a half albums. I have a lot on my plate, so we’ll focus on the first, which is called TAAJwarstories. That’s gonna be a collection of joints letting people see how I view the world. I’m also in group called the Brooks Brothers with my partner in rhyme K-Dot, and that album is the truth. We keep it very gutter and experiment with the music at the same time. I’m also working on an album with Ben Hooks and Ope called BEN at WAR.

Adam Bernard: You’re a busy man. Obviously you love what you do, so hit me with what you feel are the most enjoyable, and the most important, aspects of being an emcee.
Taajwar: The most enjoyable is twofold. For starters, I just love making music; from back in the day ciphers in the hallway, to bringing random musicians on stage for a jam sessions at a music festival, to freestylin at an open mic, or anywhere, and I mean real freestyle. I built a studio in my crib so that I could record, but also cuz, like my older brother Visual Poetics, I wanted to have a spot where all my goons from the Heights can focus some of that rage and make good music. That’s how I had it so that’s how I want to do it for others. The other half is the satisfaction you get from somebody listening to your music and liking it. No matter how long I’ve been doing it, it’s like no other feeling when you get somebody hearing a new joint and saying that’s hot, or get a standing ovation. And as far as the most important aspect of being an emcee, I think it’s being true to your art form. Whatever that is, just do you. It’s the same philosophy I have with people, just be yourself to the best of your abilities. Never try to be someone else. You can incorporate good characteristics, but be you, because you’ll never be as good as they are at being them.

Adam Bernard: Since this interview is part of the Season of Sole series, tell me about your favorite pair of kicks. What are they, where did you get them, and why do you love em?
Taajwar: I can probably spend all day running down a list of favorites. I mean, all time, we’d have to throw in the navy blue Stan Smiths, a low top cream Fila from ‘92, black and zane grey Air Flights, re-released as a Jordan 4 retro color way, maybe the grey and red Jordan number 10’s, maybe the black and white Pippen A I R’s, maybe even a pair of white and black Foamposites with the check. But seriously, let me focus. If I had to pick one pair of kicks that I could have right now that I used to have but don’t anymore it would have to be the Ray Allen Olympic Jordan’s number 6. Hands down, I have the Olympic number 7s with the 9 on the back, but they re-released those so they’re less exclusive, so yeah the Ray Allen joints are my favorite.

Adam Bernard: Although you kind of already answered this, just in case a sneaker manufacturer is reading this, why don’t you close this interview by hitting everyone with the one pair of kicks you’re still dying to get your hands on and your feet into.
Taajwar: Well, Mr. Phil Knight, if you’re listening, and I know you are, I really do appreciate your graciousness in re-releasing the Carnivores, but if you could send me those Ray Allen’s and a pair of Carmine number 6s, I got you. P.S. - thanks for the Carnivores.

Related Links

MySpace: myspace.com/littleegypt
Facebook: Taajwar Azhar
Amazon: Know You Got SOLE


posted by Adam Bernard @ 7:35 AM  
  • At 10:14 AM, Blogger stephanie said…

    Taaj is one of the greatest EMCEE'S I know, very talented with a passion for HIP-HOP.

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