You haven’t heard of Tabi Bonney? You must not be from anywhere near the District of Columbia. The son of Itadi Bonney, a West African afro-funk musician, Tabi has been a mainstay in the Washington D.C hip-hop scene for years. Ask anybody about the phrase, "put me in the pocket," coined by his infamous single of the same name. He has also launched his own upscale clothing line, Bonney Runway. I was lucky enough to catch up to this accomplished trendsetter after his set at DCtoBC’s Trillectro music festival this past weekend. Hear the veteran’s thoughts on Trillectro, his hometown, and a variety of other topics in the interview to follow.
First of all, how are you right now?
I’m good man, pretty good. Tired but it’s been a good day. Good to hear.
Seeing as how this is the first music festival Washington D.C. has had in a very long time, how do you feel it compares to festivals held in cities such as New York and Los Angeles?
It’s comparable. I’m looking at it right now and I feel like I’m in Los Angeles or New York right now. I’m just looking at all of the people right now, and it’s amazing. I’m very proud of Modi and Quinn and DCtoBC for making this happen. This festival is also groundbreaking because of its recognition of the hybridization of music in modern times.
How do you see this combination of hip-hop and electronic evolving in the future?
I think that’s where music is actually headed. Not only electronic, but pop, alternative. It’s gonna be a big mashup, where the lines are more skewed and there are no more borders.
You have had success in a variety of endeavors in life, from music to fashion. What’s your advice for young entrepreneurs looking to convert their dreams into reality?
Man, focus on one thing and put your all into it. Don’t get distracted by trying to do too many things at once. Just pick your one thing and go hard at it.
The district has definitely seen substantially more attention being given to its artists in recent years. What do you think is next for the Washington D.C. area in terms of music?
I think the first step is solidifying, we can’t look for anything else yet. We’re finally getting there, but we’re not there yet. Same with stuff like this. You have to get a stronghold before you can seek to truly expand.
Do you think it’s possible for Washington D.C. artists to gain national prominence while staying true to the region’s roots in go-go and soul?
I definitely think we can. It’s just gonna take the right person using the right avenues to do so.
A manifesto is a declaration of intents and principles. What is your Artistic Manifesto?
Just to change people’s lives and inspire them. I want to be able to inspire everyone from future artists to politicians, all kinds of people. I want people to feel free to be themselves and not be relegated to following the crowd.