Minamina Goodsong spoons out flavor with Time for Breakfast
Nothing says diversity quite like the cereal aisle at the grocery store. Within that whole grain harem lie infinite sugar-coated reflections of the vulnerable human condition. For the sensible, sporty young mother, there's Special K. For the uptight corporate suit, there's plain Shredded Wheat. The cereal aisle teaches us that, no matter how sweet or starchy the respective sustenance, at the end of the day, we all face the same empty bowl.
Bringing this spirit of cereal and humanity to the Atlanta hip-hop scene and beyond are Adahma A.D. and Pgnut Prehistoric, who along with DJ T'Challa, form the underground collective Minamina Goodsong. Together with an extended cast of characters from the Atlanta Plainzwalker hip-hop crew, Minamina has recorded and released the neo-golden-age opus, Time for Breakfast. With crafty lyricism and beats that stay crunchy in milk, the album is an essential part of any well-balanced break-fest.
Indeed, balance is the driving force behind the Minamina machine. Among the often hyper-self-conscious attitudes of the underground, Minamina finds a way to return fun to hip-hop without sacrificing meaning. Time for Breakfast is laced with an inside joke, skit-happy goof-off vibe, yet it stays grounded in an authentic, often endearingly personal sense of expression.
"Everybody is so protective of hip-hop," says Pgnut (pronounced peanut). "Everybody's like, 'You can't do this and you can't do that.' Why? Even when we were starting to do the project, people who were real close to us were like, 'That's not going to work, you guys are too silly.' And we were actually real timid to begin with."
The band's members were unsure how the crowd would react at the first few underground shows they did, but the outcome was favorable. "Now it's like everybody is thanking us. It's just us being us. We're not real serious people, and we couldn't come off the way other people do with hip-hop. We just have to be ourselves," Pgnut says.
The equation somehow works on Time for Breakfast, which, for all its inside jokes, bathroom humor and pop-culture obsession, would seem to run the risk of being too novel or esoteric or both. But the inside jokes, it turns out, are just outside enough, and the lyricism is just identifiable and real enough to make the album loveable.
But when the group first started, many people thought the music was cryptic, Pgnut says. They thought the audience would have to know the band members personally to understand the music. "But I've looked back on interviews with De La Soul and groups that I'm really influenced by, and they all say the same thing — they made their music for them, and they weren't expecting anyone to like it, and it just took off like that," Pgnut says. "When we're writing our songs, it's in that light-hearted format, but it's really about what's going on with our lives. All the inside jokes, all the anger and aggression, all the frustration or whatever — all that stuff just comes out in song, and it's kind of like therapy."
In addition to staying true to themselves, Minamina Goodsong also place a high emphasis on respect for hip-hop. Their cheeky irreverence is compromised only by the emotional sincerity that true hip-hop demands.
"I don't walk around all day grabbing my crotch," says A.D. "I'm not an MC 24 hours a day, in the corner with my headphones, at work answering the phone 'Yo.' But, I mean, when it comes down to it, that's what drives us. We have a love and appreciation for hip-hop. We want to show respect back."
Pgnut says artists can be as innovative as they want with hip-hop, but "you still have to show respect for what you're doing, or somebody's going to end up kicking your ass or blackballing you from what you are doing. And you don't want that to happen. Hip-hop is almost a sport as much as it is a genre of music. It's so competitive. You have to watch yourself a little bit."
The love for hip-hop, especially the golden-age sounds of the early '90s, comes through in Minamina's production, which could be the most exciting aspect of Time for Breakfast. While the MCs' lyrical delivery occasionally ebbs as it flows, the production remains solid throughout. From the cosmo-playground vibe of "Buttersauce" to the spooked-out hook of "Soul Missiles" to the so-smoof Lionel Ritchie action on "TV Girl Part Two," the sound of the album sticks like Lucky Charms marshmallows. And as the group's profile continues to rise, it looks like Minamina Goodsong will be sticking for a while as well.
"When you have something to offer the hip-hop community, they embrace you," says Pgnut. "So I don't think there are any rules for that."
Minamina Goodsong plays the International Artists Guild Fri., July 6. Call 404-577-0300 for information.??