BAHAMADIA with DJ STATIK , ISIS , ETERNIA , MASIA ONE , ZAKI and VAN KHANH at the El Mocambo (464 Spadina), Saturday (August 20), 10 pm. $15. 416-777-1777. Rating: NNNNN
Since being helped into the hiphop game by Guru (and by proxy, DJ Premier) in 93, serene-sounding, jazzed-out Philadelphia mic-wrecka Bahamadia has learned so much about the industry she could write a book. In fact, that's just what she's doing.
"Basically, it's like a self-help book for artists," says Bahamadia over the phone from her Philly home. "This book'll have some of the things that I consistently get asked, revealing some of the secrets to my survival in the game, how I sacrifice my time as opposed to my integrity."
With one album, 96's Kollage (Chrysalis), and 2000's independently released BB Queen (Goodvibe) EP, Bahamadia has held tightly to her own artistic vision throughout a turbulent career.
These days she's busy working on her third record, which deals with her music industry frustrations and gives us a strong dose of what her personal life is like.
In addition to a collaboration with the UK's Ty, 'Dia's also got some featured guests lined up for the album whose names, she says, will shock you. She won't say who's on tap, but after quietly popping up on tracks by King Britt, Sweetback, the Herbaliser, Zap Mama and Reflection Eternal over the last few years, expect some favours to be cashed in.
"They're kind of a surprise," she says of her upcoming studio buddies, "but they're sort of to the left of what you'd expect from Bahamadia. People have a tendency to think that I'm this jazzed-out chick. That has been my signature sound since over 10 years ago, and I'm certainly not the same person I was, artistically. It's about elevation for me."
Let's hope the volume of her voice will be elevated as well. It's always been tragic that Bahamadia's lyrics are delievered so quietly; they sometimes barely rise above the mix. Sounds like the next effort will be a bit more aggressive.
"I'd like to believe I've finally gotten comfortable with who I am," she says. "So I'm not hiding behind my more laid-back styles as much. My music in the past has been very one-dimensional in terms of tones and cadences. But my live show is more assertive than my recordings. I think I'm at a point where it's a balance of both."
So I guess the last thing left is to decide on a deal. Though it's likely that she'll go for independent release, says Bahamadia, her autonomy is a constant.
"I'm trying to have control over my destiny, period. I always considered myself an independent artist whether I was associated with a major situation or not."