In an industry dominated by masculinity, Georgia Anne Muldrow (daughter of musicians Rickie Byars-Beckwith and late jazz guitarist Ronald Muldrow) is a proven, worthy competitor. She has more creativity and originality in her infectious grin than most possess in their entire bodies.
Yasiin Bey (fka Mos Def) has said of Muldrow:
She’s incredible. She’s like Flack, Nina Simone, Ella, she’s something else. She’s like religion. It’s heavy, vibrational music. I’ve never heard a human being sing like this. Her voice is wildly, finely expressive. It’s so singular. It’s hip-hop, the way that she approaches it rhythmically, she’s got so many jazz influences. It’s something else and you can just feel it.
A Thoughtiverse Unmarred may be Muldrow’s first hip-hop album, but the soul artist has been in the game long enough to make a name for herself. Listeners, rest assured all twelve tracks contain nothing but the truth because, regardless of how much the truth hurts, Muldrow will tell it like it is every time.
Brooklyn Radio’s Lara Gamble caught up with the artist recently to find out more about her relationship with Mello Music Group and took away a long list of new artist recommendations. (Thanks, Georgia!)
What’s your earliest memory of hip-hop?
My earliest memory of hip-hop is KRS-One. My brother, myself and my mother, we were at this African study group called “African Minds United,” and we used to meet once a week. We were very small children. I think I was in kindergarten. They had a kids program. I believe that the song was “You Must Learn.” And it was just really an amazing thing.
They showed the video on the projector and turned out all the lights and everything. I just remember seeing this music, it blew my mind, you know? It just kind of really, really blew my mind because here I saw something that was so hip. It was so hip. He looked like us.
I just saw KRS-One like, “Oh my God! Look at what he’s wearing! He has a Malcolm X hat on.” Stuff like that. That’s how we would go to school, you know? I think I was in kindergarten or first grade, either one of those years.. Just seeing that was like, wow. But yeah, KRS-One is the one that really kind of like just completely flipped my mind, you know?
We was in…the school has now since closed down in Los Angeles. We was in there, in a school called Marcus Garvey School. And, you know, when you walked in there, the tiles on the outside of the school was red, black, and green. So, like the whole place is a completely Garvey-ite institution, you know? The whole thing. He brought it straight to us, like it was already in there. And I think it just hit home so much that it was kind of over.
But then I loved Kool Moe Dee so much. MC Hammer. X-Clan. Oh my God, all these people. Monie Love. Queen Latifah. It was like amazing stuff, you know?
In my research, I found that you grew up in a musical household with your parents being in the business already. Was it kind of a no-brainer that you got involved in music?
What was your first taste of the music industry?
That’s a question I get asked a whole lot for like ten years of my career. Man, I’ve been asked that question so many times. I guess that for somebody that’s being exposed to my music for the first time….I think this might be my sixteenth record or something. But getting exposed to music…that was something. I live it, you know. I heard it. I always heard the details when I listened to it. I always heard everything in everything, whereas if I was missing something when I heard it, I’d listen to it ‘til I understood it. So, I always cared about music like that. I always cared about music on a very deep level.
I’ve been writing since I was nine years old: writing music, playing piano and stuff like that. Writing songs that I would remember and stuff. I was about nine years old. That’s also when like, I started getting serious on drums, too. So, that was kind of like when I broke through on the instruments. But I think really when things really started coming together as far as producing my own work and stuff like that, probably around like sixteen or seventeen.
Really seventeen was when I was feeling secure in what I was doing as far as putting songs together to create demos and this and that. And I think that was cool. And then I did another piece of work in 2004. 2004 is like the year I first had a recording, like a legit gig from the Platinum Pied Pipers and all of that. That was like my first official gig, piece of wax, whatever, what have you.
Maybe 2003, I think I was on the Afro Beat record. You can’t find it no more, but the name of the song was called, “Black Princess Lady.” It was an Afro Beat record, so my first actual vinyl was an Afro Beat record.
So, was Olesi on Stones Throw Records your debut album? The one that was released in 2006?
Yeah, that was in 2006, and then they reissued an EP ‘cause one of the cats at the label was at a music store and saw my stuff already in the store ‘cause I was independent. I would just take my little bag and sell to music stores my own work. I was taking after my mom ‘cause my mom is independent.
Right, so you kind of went the opposite way. You were independent and then kind of got involved with a label.
Yeah, definitely. And they were like, “We’ll reissue it.” I guess they didn’t want me to be in competition with them. I don’t know what it was. Or they wouldn’t want people to hear about it or whatever. So, I drew up a new cover and let them do that. But yeah, 2004 is when I was doing this stuff, and then it got reissued in 2006.
Well, with Mello, we’ve been working with him [Michael Tolle] for quite some time. I think we worked with him maybe like a year before we started our own label. So, I think like 2007 during that time. I think it was really 2008 when we really started working tough, late 2007. I’m trying to remember. I have to look up that date.
But basically, Mello really had a lot of love for Dudley’s work and really dug what he was doing and actually requested Dudley to officiate his marriage ceremony to his wife. So, we went up there to Arizona, and it was an amazing day to meet all the family and all of that. It was a day that I felt was really special.
And I think, as a result of that, Dudley and Mello had a lot of conversations about music and stuff and about some ideas and different things to try, and Dudley lent him a lot of different ideas about things to try. And Mello actually applied those things. So, that’s how we kinda got hooked up with him.
What was your inspiration behind the album?
Everything that I’m saying in it. I hope that it is conveyed pretty clearly in the stuff that I’m saying. I’m trying to be as transparent as possible on every song because it’s an important thing to me. I want everything that I’m saying to show. I just want it all to show like songs in the blues. It just show.
When you listen to John Lee Hooker, “One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer.” You know exactly what’s the inspiration behind that. You feelin’ me? And I think that is exactly what inspires me to be kind of transparent. Even though I’m dealing with a little more transparent things sometimes, I still value that aspect of black music in this country.
I’m sure your fans appreciate that.
Yeah. I mean, you know what? I’m blessed that they do. I’m not sure that they do all the time, but I’m blessed that they do. ‘Cause I gotta take the chance, you know? You gotta take the chance and just stay with it even if you aren’t sure if it’s the right thing. Stay the true. You know, you gotta stay the true before it is the right thing.
But the title of the record is actually inspired by a Langton Hughes’ poem that’s called A Dream Deferred. It’s like one of his most famous poems. And so mine is like a little answer to that, you know, ‘cause all the great poets, we stand on their shoulders and everything. So, mine is A Thoughtiverse Unmarred, you feel me?
I love that. I’m a poet at heart.
Yeah, me too. That’s why I can’t blog. (Laughs.) I was talking with my friend…and I try to write press releases, you know, and I sent it to her. I mean, it takes me a day and a half to do, you feel me? It’s like, “Ahh! Oh my God.” And so I do it, and she’s like, “Yeah, I’m going to probably have to scale back the wordiness that you used.” I was like, “Do you know how long it took?” I was like, “Yo.” I said, “I’m a poet. I give up.”
I was explaining it. I’m like, “Dude, it’s the difference between being a writer and a poet, man.” Because when you’re a poet, it’s a subtractive process, you know? You’re totally sculpting something. It’s like, there’s this big ol’ picture in your head, and it’s taking all the extraneous words away. You’re sculpting the stanzas and this and that. So, you’re writing out a press release, and you’re not like wired to “Blah, blah, blah.”
Yeah I graduated with a degree in Creative Writing, but then when I first started getting into this style, I was like, “I don’t even know what I’m doing.”
What am I damn doing? (Laughs) You know?
You’ve worked with major artists like Erykah Badu, Robert Glasper and Bilal. Is there anyone else you hope to collaborate with in the future?
I want to collaborate with everybody. I mean, everybody who makes sense to me. If it don’t make no sense to me, I don’t know how I’d make it work. But there’s lots of people that are beautiful.
So, who are you listening to right now?
Right now, I’m listening to Death, man. To tell you the truth, I love punk rock music, and Death is my shit. Yeah, their first record I’ve been listening to a lot. They’re horribly fresh. You know, they pre-date The Ramones as far as being the fathers of punk music, and they’re three brothers from Detroit, three black brothers from Detroit.
And I saw the documentary. Somebody on the street, I was in L.A., and somebody on the street said, “You need to see this movie.” I didn’t even know the girl, and she said, “You need to look at this movie.”
She just right away told you that?
Yeah, man, you know, cause some people know what I do, you know? She was like, “Man, you’re gonna love this ‘cause I know you’re punk.” I was like, “Yeah, let me see.”
I saw the movie. I almost broke down in tears. And you know, I saved up to get that CD ‘cause I was like, “Okay, I got my money. I’m gonna get this Death CD, and I’ll play it back to back to back to back.”
What else am I listening to? I’m always listening to….whatever Redman’s new video is out.
Does he have new shit out?
Always. He’s always doing something, man. He’s got videos out and stuff. He just does it for his people, you know? So, we’re always up on his stuff. We love his stuff, me and Dudley. There’s another group I like called Divisible. They’re from L.A. They’re kind of like a spinoff from Joy Division except the lead singer’s a girl. I think she might be from Ghana or Nigeria? And it’s like a real progressive, indie-rock kind of band….
Who else do I listen to a lot? I listen to my mother’s records a lot. I love my mother’s records. They give me a lot of sense. I listen to all types of stuff. I listen to a lot of jazz music. I love Fats Waller, the piano guy. I love his personality.
Who else? I’m trying to think of who I’m listening to….I’m listening to a lot of Chico Mann, yeah. I think he’s up there in New York now. I think he’s in the Afrobeat community. Yeah, Chico Mann is bad. Yeah, we be bumping that.
Okay, Dudley told me to tell you that we’re children of the funk. I listen to his stuff, too, a lot. I listen to Dudley Perkins stuff a lot, too. I listen to “Shine Time.” I listen to “Separate Ways.” I listen to “Love Your Neighbor.” I listen to Self Study. That whole record. I love that record ‘cause I made it. (Laughs.) Who else? I like Rah Digga’s new single….
Oh, I didn’t even know she had one.
Hey, man, get on Twitter! You never know what you’re gonna find.
I’m learning about all this new stuff. Thank you.
I tell you! I mean like, for me, I use Twitter like a news feed. I learn about so much new stuff ‘cause everybody sometimes….everybody doesn’t have that as a priority, you know? They don’t want to spend that kind of money to market to people. They don’t want to do all that. They just want to make some music and perform it.
Also, Jean Grae, man. She’s got like a whole plethora of records on her Bandcamp. She’s got some stuff, and then her little web show and everything. Yeah, man. But like, there’s a lot of folks doing awesome stuff around. There’s a lot of people around doing amazing things
Are you gonna tour for the record?
Yeah, we’re trying to get some dates together. But we’re playing in Vermont though this Friday at the Signal Kitchen at their jazz festival there. That’s going to be the kickoff to some gigs. I think we’re going to be hitting another gig in Chicago, and I think we’re gonna be going to Australia again this year.
Hopefully, we’re going to hit the UK this year. Hopefully, we can go to more places in the States though. I’d be looking forward to a lot of that if folks make enough noise. That would be fun. I would love to play New York.
We would love to have you.
Haha, yeah. That’s one of things. I would love to play New York.
Is there anything else that you want to add or promote?
Yeah, absolutely. There’s another record that I’m on that I love called Southside Story. It’s kind of like the inverse of what my record is because, you know how like Dudley is guesting on my songs on this record? Well, I’m guesting on his songs on this record but the production is the same producer, Chris Keys. He did a kickass job on it.
I guess, you know, www.someothaship.net. That’s where you can kind of link up with us and figure out where we are, and that’s about it.