One of R&B's freshest faces, Queen Naija and Hip Hop duo, EarthGang swung by for an exclusive chat and performance with Audacy's own Kenny Burns and Big Tigger.
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“Bonnet of benevolence” and all, they performed their hits, “All Eyes On Me,” and “Options.” However, before they blessed the stage, Olu and WowGr8 of EarthGang slid through to chop it up with Kenny Burns. To kick things off, the men got candid about what Black Music Month means to them. “Man, kinda like Black History Month, Black Music Month is every month,” Olu expressed. “It’s just so amazing to give our people their flowers while we’re here. I feel like every musical style and genre has been influenced by Black people. Like we don’t wanna wait until it’s over for us to really appreciate our artists and appreciate the people still living and on the other side.”
WowGr8 responded, “I totally agree. It’s nothing in music today and even in the past 100 years or more, that can’t trace back to the roots— of being rooted in our people. It ain’t a matter of where the genre lands today or why it’s called what it’s called whatever it’s called today, it’s all rooted in a lot of early sounds from our people. Not only in the Motherland, but our people that survived the Middle Passage, came over here and then made new sounds for us to use and explore. So, yeah Black Music Month is every month.”
After discussing their unique sound and their connection to the ancestral realm, the conversation turned to DMX’s spiritual legacy. Burns reflected on a recent conversation he had where he couldn’t stop highlighting X’s sermons and how some don’t connect that side of X to his musical one. Olu stated, “I mean that’s how people are. On Earth, a lot of times people wanna look at your earthly issues and your earthly battles, and not really what you came here to do and how you actually fulfilling your purpose.”
He continued, “you could see how he speaking on a higher level like his connection with the spiritual realm is— just the vibration is so crazy.” WowGr8 chimed in and added, “he was super tapped in. It was instant whenever he wanted to go to that realm. That’s a way you could tell a lot of people how tapped in they are with whatever they’re connected is how quickly they can get into it and how locked in they are once they get there.”
The men spoke on being vulnerable and holding yourself accountable because at the end of the day, public figures are still human. Their forthcoming album, Ghetto Gods is the duo's first that they didn’t record on the road. Being able to see the changes of Atlanta and reflect on what was going on in the world truly laid the foundation for this next project. WowGr8 expressed, “the pandemic shut the world down and we really had to be back in Atlanta for a while [...] Being home and just talking to people I ain’t talk to in a long time and like seeing the changes in my city from the city I grew up in [as Atlanta natives], it’ll put another type of fire under you to really reflect that to the world and really show the world how great it is to be where you from. And show the world how much raw talent and energy and diamonds are in these places.”
The conversation continued on how Atlanta “changed” Burns’ life and what the city means to each of them. They wanted to ensure they put that love (the love of the city and how Black ATL is) into their new album because for them, it’s unmatched. “Yeah, Ghetto Gods is cool, but we want everyone to see that in themselves [...] This is literally just this is what you see. This is what we see and through what you see, you see the God in yourself,” WowGr8 stated.
Olu replied, “this is what’s in you from the jump before you were influenced by the world.” For more on staying to yourself, the journey of EarthGang and Atlanta’s influence on the culture, dive into the full interview above.
Ahead of her performance, Queen Naija sat with Big Tigger. She revealed that with the streets being reopened, she’s most excited to “get back to work.” After some recent familial drama surrounding her youngest son’s graduation, she opened up about her issues with the limelight. “Everybody got family issues, you know. Everyone does, but it’s just worse when it comes to social media. That’s what I was trying to prevent, but sometimes things are outta your control, so I just pray about it. [...] I just know everytime something crazy happens, something big happens right after.” She also alluded to social media scrutiny just being a “sacrifice.”
She continued, “You have to sacrifice something with every job that you do and this is just a part of it. You have to learn how to deal with it. I’ve learned how to deal with it over time. Does it still bother me? Yes, because I’m a human. I just learned to give myself mental breaks.”
She may be in a loving relationship, but that didn’t stop her and Ari Lennox from making the banger, “Set Him Up.” She expressed, “I never actually set anyone up [...] it’s just a scenario and we thought it’d be cool.” Queen revealed the song actually was just a joke between the two ladies in the studio, but once she teased it on social media, it instantly became in demand.
Coming from YouTube straight into the music business, Queen feels the one thing she’s missing is “artist development bootcamp.” She continued, “it’s a lot of things I still need to learn. I sat down and had a baby, so I never got the chance to be in artist development. I’ve been winging it the whole time [...] I want to master keeping people’s attention [in a positive way].” Most of all, the 25-year-old wants to “master giving a good performance” and ultimately, she wants to be remembered “as an artist that’s relatable to people, but less accessible.”
Watch Queen Naija break down her inspirations and define whether she’s a singer or a sanger in the full interview above. She also performed acoustic versions of her songs, “Pack Lite,” “Butterflies Pt. 2” and “Karma.”
This Black Music Month exclusive series will feature several artists who've contributed to the music industry in great ways. This night of music with Queen Naija and EarthGang is the first installment in the weekly series.
Join us at audacy.com/blackmusicmonth for more.