“I’m actually allergic to weed smoke,” proclaims Tabi Bonney over the phone. The noise in the background gives the impression that he is walking down the street in his hometown of Washington, DC. He puts the phone on hold to talk to someone, then says “What’s up” to a few unidentified people before telling the story of how New Orleans rapper Curren$y smoked out the studio during a recent recording session, leaving his life dangling in the balance—well not so much dangling, but he did have to step outside the room and catch his breath. “I can usually be around it I just can’t actually smoke it. But he came and smoked the shit out. After that, Dame [Dash] was like, ‘All right, no more smoking in the studio,’” recounts Bonney, laughing about the incident.
The West African-born Washington, DC-raised rapper initially attracted the attention of the former Roc-A-Fella executive through his 2006 debut A Fly Guy’s Theme, and two follow-up albums. “Someone in Dame’s camp sent me a message on Facebook and was like ‘Dame wants to work with you.’ I was like ‘Hell yeah, let’s go.’ So that’s how I ended up working with him and Ski Beatz,” explains Bonney. The Summer Years, Bonney’s latest full-length album, is the first project he has released through Dash’s BluRoc label and is produced in its entirety by Ski Beatz, also on the label’s roster. It also features fellow Dash affiliate, R&B singer Nicole Wray, who was associated with Missy Elliot in the earlier part of the decade.

As well as putting a new spin on some of rap’s popular subjects, Bonney has flipped the usual proceedings by not waiting for mega-stardom to expand his brand, choosing instead to doing it himself. Ordinarily, artists wait until they are famous enough to grace the cover of major magazines before developing a clothing line, but Bonney had a different plan with Bonney Runway, his streetwear label. “Bonney Runway came at time when everyone was wearing baggy clothes, so I started making my own shit—shit that fit better,” Bonney says. “Then people would see a shirt I had on and be like, ‘That’s tight, where did you get that from?’ and I’m like, ‘I made it.’ That’s how it started.”
Bonney also has his hands in a pop group. His group, the Crybabieees, comprised of himself, Poet Name Life and Niki Madison had a deal with SRC/Universal but it fell through in December. However ask him what he prefers—being a solo artist or that Black Eyed Peas trio lifestyle—he will tell you that they both have their rewards, but being able to have the final say creatively is one of the aspects he relishes as a solo artist.
The Crybabieees wont be making an appearance during the Hip-Hop And Love Tour Bonney is on with fellow MC MURS, but some dancers will. Bonney assured CMJ that his live show is nothing short of amazing and features background dancers and a live band. Rappers typically don’t dance, and although he sounded believable saying there will be no choreographed dance steps from him, you never know. Tabi Bonney marches to his own drum, and he may very well be bringing the ’80s back.
Tour Dates For Tabi Bonney:
09/29 – Dallas, TX – House of Blues- Cambridge Room
09/30 – Austin, TX – Antone’s
10/01 – San Antonio, TX – Studio 13
10/02 – Houston, TX – Fitzgerald’s
10/04 – New Orleans, LA – The Parish at House of Blues
10/05 – Ybor City, FL – Crowbar
10/06 – Tallahasee, FL – Club Downunder
10/07 – Orlando, FL – Backbooth
10/08 – Atlanta, GA – A3C Festival
10/11 – Chapel Hill, NC – Local 506
10/12 – Virginia Beach, VA – Jewish Mother
10/13 – Washington, D.C – DC9
10/14 – Philadelphia, PA – The Fire
10/15 – Brooklyn, NY – Music Hall of Williamsburg
10/18 – Boston, MA – Brighton Music Hall
10/19 – South Burlington, VT – Hight Ground Showcase Lounge
10/20 – Toronto, ON – Wrong Bar
10/21 – Buffalo, NY – Broadway Joe’s
10/22 – Pittsburgh, PA – Mr. Small’s Theatre
10/24 – Cleveland, OH – Beachland Ballroom & Tavern
10/25 – Detroit, MI – Magic Stick
10/26 – Columbus, OH – The Basement
10/27 – Bloomington, IL – Rhino’s
10/28 – Chicago, IL – Reggie’s Rock Club
10/30 – Duluth, MN – Pizza Luce
11/01 – North Minneapolis, MN – Fine Line Music Cafe
11/02 – Ames, IA – Maintenance Shop
11/03 – Omaha, NE – Waiting Room
11/04 – Lawrence, KS – Granada Theatre
11/05 – Boulder, CO – Fox Theatre
11/06 – Colorado Springs, CO – The Black Sheep
11/08 – Salt Lake City, UT – In the Venue
11/09 – Boise, ID – The Neurolux
11/10 – Seattle, WA – Crocodile Cafe
11/11 – Missoula, MT – TBA
11/14 – Portland, Oregon – TBA
11/15 – Arcata, CA – Jambalaya
11/16 – Reno, NV – Comm Row
11/18 – San Francisco, CA – Fillmore
11/19 – Santa Cruz, CA – Catalyst- Atrium
11/20 – Visalia, CA – Cellar Door
11/22 – Bakersfield, CA – Fishlips Bar and Grill
11/23 – West Hollywood, CA – House of Blues
11/25 – San Diego, CA – House of Blues
11/26 – Tucson, AZ – Club Congress