The fundamental goal for any creative artist is to construct a unique identity that will establish their reign in the field. Without a distinct reference point, it is easy to get lost in a sea of monotony and lackluster impressionism. These emerging musicians have selected names based on ethereal conceptions and an attachment to something greater than they know or completely understand. Perhaps it is by envisioning themselves in lieu of a larger presence that they allow for constant evolution, spontaneity, and an amplified place in the world of music.
Meet Tiye Phoenix: a hip-hop emcee from Jersey. She’s collaborated with some of the finest in the game, including Public Enemy, the Bomb Squad, Rick James, Reflection Eternal, Nas, and Mos Def. Her skills as a producer and rapper have taken her far, but it is the strength of her individualism upon which she prides herself most, and her moniker was selected accordingly.
“Tiye was one of the great Pharaohesses from Ancient Egypt (Kemet). Born in Nubia, Queen Tiye was the Great Royal Wife of Amenhotep III, mother of Amenhotep IV (later known as Akhenaten), and mother-in-law of Nefertiti. The phoenix legacy is the story of a mythological bird that represents immortality, resurrection, and survival. I combined the two since they both have roots in Kemetic history. I felt these two names would symbolize a powerful identity.”
Emanuel has traveled to the West and back with his musical compositions and free bird spirit, but it wasn’t until his second go around in New York, that his band, Emanuel and The Fear came to be. An 11-piece orchestral rock group, the collective combines classical symphonic opuses with razor-edge modern beats to create a sound somewhat hipster, somewhat rugged, and somewhat beyond description.
“I called my band The Fear because it’s a major theme in my writing and really everything in life. It’s a theme that I’m into, but that leaves things open for us to represent ourselves in different ways. If we called ourselves Emanuel and The Geeks people might feel surprised by us presenting ourselves as ninjas or something. Fear allows for anything really.”
Wordspit The Illest has no set rhyme or reason to his sonic ruminations, rather he’s out to to have a good time, and perhaps shed some profundity on the world every now and then. The young emcee out of Brooklyn considers himself chief of New York ciphers, and will take on a challenge anywhere, anytime, on any street corner or parking lot (and he dances too). Though he’s solo as a performer, he deems his identity a coalition.
“The Illest is my brand: my music, business team, and fans. We are a unified collective—whether it’s the people behind the stage, on the stage or in front of the stage. And all the people online who listen to my music too. I’ve built a lot of relationships off Twitter alone. After the work is done, just connecting with this guy in Ohio who doesn’t know who Wordspit is and being like, ‘Check this out.’ The next minute he’s like ‘Hey, that’s awesome.’ He feels the connection. That’s the Illest.”
Keep checking back to BTR for more band name stories and listen up for music from these artists on BTR.
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– Courtney Garcia