Issue No.7 April 1, 2001

IGNITE ~ One Year Old
HOT GIRLZ ~ Bahamadia & Suphala
ISM ~ Yo Mama’s Last Supper
ESOTERIC ~ What We Earn
CHICA TO CHICA ~ Growth and Retrospect


intro and overview


A year ago I sent out the very first issue of theHotness. I practically stayed up all night with my co-editor, Todd Wilson, as we transcribed interviews and edited text. It was a serious affair of the heart as we found ourselves consumed with the thrilling task of creating something new and something special. In that first issue we featured an interview with Jill Scott before most folks had even heard of the Grammy award-winning Philadelphia native and definitely before anyone was jamming to her hit song “A Long Walk Home.” Now a year later we have subscribers from all walks of life representing almost every State in the US, as well as cities in Europe, Australia, Japan and Africa. It is mind blowin’ to say the least! With this, our first anniversary issue, (yeah, this ones big but that’s because it’s special!), we decided to head back to Philly and interview the legendary MC, Bahamadia. We’re also looking at two Hot Girlz, Suphala and Renee Cox, who have been on the scene for some time now yet continue to create music and art that is spellbinding.

I’d like to thank all of the writers who have contributed to theHotness this past year (Bahia Ramos who reviews Yo Mama’s Last Supper, also contributed to that first issue). For years we believed that there was an audience out there who wanted to get down with theHotness and thanks to the overwhelming support we have received from you, our subscribers, we are certain that we are filling a huge void. Thank you! theHotness is a reflection of the lives and experiences of sisters of color all over this globe who defy classification through their art, their perspective and how they do their thing. theHotness embodies the kind of indescribable genius that leaves us, and those that observe us, breathless, mesmerized and inspired.

Nicole Moore, Editor


inspired, creative and groundbreaking



With rap music you have your beat makers and then you have your microphone controllers. Being an adept MC is just as much about what you are saying, as it is about how you say it. And then there are rappers like Q-Tip, Rakim, and DMX that are remembered and renowned for the distinctive nature of their voices.

In 1996 when Chrysalis Records released Bahamadia’s, “Kollage,” the Philadelphia native, had ciphers from the Bronx all the way to Brixton wide open off her flow and off of her voice—ultra mellow and cottony thick. Last year after seemingly disappearing from the demanding hiphop set following the unsuccessful launch of her salient debut, Bahamadia returned with her highly anticipated 7-track EP-- “BB Queen” (her twist on B.B. King where B.B. now stands for Beautiful Black).

BB Queen at worse was too short and should have been an LP; at best it extended itself lyrically and musically to roads less traveled by other rap albums. There’s “Beautiful Things” that critiqued media’s obsession with violence and scandal, while the EP’s last track, “Pep Talk” flipped-out on a trip hop, electronica vibe.

Born Antonia Reed, Bahamadia, which is a combination of the Arabic words “badia” meaning “original creation” and “hamd’allah” meaning “thanks be to God,” has been spending the majority of her time touring in Europe with the likes of Roni Size and in the US touring with the likes of The Roots. theHotness caught-up with her back in Philly while relaxing with her two sons, reading Octavia Butler’s “Mind of My Mind” and writing new rhymes for her next project.

theHotness: What was hiphop like in Philly when you were growing-up?

Bahamadia: It was so dope. There was a wide range of styles of music going on in the streets like early electronica and disco breaks. And then there were the playground jams. Even though Philly is a big city it still has a rural feel to it. Everybody knows everybody. People here are real supportive of each other.

tH: What inspires your work?

B: Eighty-five percent of the time, I’m inspired by beats. But I’m also influenced by passages from the Bible or other books. One song off the new record, “Pep Talk” was drawn from a passage I read in “Transforming Your Sexual Energy into Creative Energy” which was about the vagina and all the energy that flows out of that part of a woman’s body.

tH: In your song Special Forces you rhyme, “I’m lifting up my left tittie to y’all token chicks/ You ain’t really hot/ Just image and politics/ I’m prototype/ You duplicate of male affiliates.” Is this song about female rappers who use sex to sell records?

B: No. It refers to people (in general) who feel they have to utilize different people to get advancement in this industry. I basically called it like I saw it. It’s not about a particular person, but if it happens to apply to them, then I’m talking to them.

tH: How do you maintain your underground appeal in an industry obsessed with artists that look and sound like Lil’ Kim and Foxy Brown?

B: Basically God is present in my life. And I don’t even consider myself an underground artist. I just feel like I haven’t gotten my time yet. In terms of the people that are shining now, that’s in God’s plan for them to be shining at this particular time. I have a great deal of respect for anybody that’s doing something original and doing something productive with their lives. How they choose to communicate to the world may not be how they express themselves behind the scenes.

tH: You seem like you have reached a level of enlightenment with your music. How was making this record different from some of your past collaborations?

B: I might have compromised and done things in the past to pay the bills, but now I’m way past that. Now I can just be me and do what I feel like, talk about what’s on my mind and reach out to so many more people.

~ N. Moore


by Uma Amuluru

Anyone who has grown up with two or more cultural influences can appreciate the schizophrenia induced by multiple worlds. The delicate balancing act of being neither here nor there is daunting, although not without rewards. Once in a while, though, an artist comes along who melds two worlds together and changes the way in which each world is perceived. Suphala, a tabla player and producer, is one such artist. Her first album, “instru mental,” is a tapestry of fusion, which intermingles the intricacies of both her worlds-- East and West. Suphala grew up in Minnesota and mastered the piano before moving onto the tabla, an East Indian percussion instrument. Now residing in New York City, she spends her winters in India, furthering her study of the tabla under the guidance of Ustad Zakir Hussain. She has recorded with artists such as Lady Ms. Kier, Perry Farrel, Vernon Reid and Nina Hagen “instru mental” is her first solo project and it is exquisite in that it blends experimental contemporary music from the West with the Eastern tabla and its classical influences. I had a chance to catch up with this multifaceted diva as she was ending a European tour with the Persian singer Hussan Deyham, and chatted about culture, music and being real in the face of MTV.

theHotness: You were born and raised in America and mastered a Western instrument. What then prompted you to make the change to such an esoteric instrument as the tabla?

S: I was intrigued by the improvisational aspect of the tabla and Eastern classical music, in general. With Western music, you master the great old compositions and you are done. With eastern music, you learn the ability to create on the spot, to be versatile. The study goes on infinitely. That is why I have to continuously go back to India once a year. Learning to play the tabla is a never-ending process.

tH: You have been studying in Mumbai, India for over seven years now, formerly with the late Ustad Allarakha, and now with his son, Ustad Zakir Hussain. Was it hard to lose your first mentor?

S: It was the worst time of my life so far. I was very close to him and he was the greatest living tabla player. To lose someone like that was a big deal for the country and also myself. But I am very lucky that I still have a teacher in his son Zakir, who is just incredible. I haven’t completely lost a mentor.

tH: Do you find it difficult to be an artist in a country where Indians are such a relatively new minority with little, if any, visibility in the media?

S: No, because that is why I decided to do what I do. I am learning Indian music, which started thousands of years ago. It is not new music. And then a couple of years ago people like my guru and Ravi Shankar brought their sound to the West. Now it is easier for artists like me. They have already laid down the foundation for younger tabla players and Indian musicians in general. So really, it is much easier now (for me) than it was for them. There are always challenges one faces regardless of whether they are doing a new or old thing.

tH: ‘instru mental’ is entirely produced by you. What is your process for composing songs?

S: It varies. For instance, my friend Fafu and I composed a couple of the pieces when we were out in LA, and then I did the rest in a couple of months. It involves discipline and the mindset of waking up and being in the studio, not really talking to anyone. Being in the studio is very different from playing shows and practicing. Sometimes ideas come to us as we are creating and other times I have an idea mapped out in my head and I try to recreate what I am hearing in my head. Essentially, the concept is rhythm based and once I lay down the foundation I can put the effect on the sound. This music is experimental so I don’t follow a very traditional process of composing.

tH: What do you have planned for ‘instru mental’?

S: I like selling my music online. I have a website,, which is my primary method of distributing the CD right now. A label called Innerrhythmic is going to distribute it worldwide in the spring of 2001.

tH: What do you think of the whole ‘Napster’ revolution and what it means for music?

S: MP3s are great. There are so many artists out there willing to put their music out for free. It is very nice to cut out the middleman and get straight to the audience.

tH: Do you plan on touring?

S: I plan on going on tour in the spring of 2001. Playing with artists is nice and I always learn about the music business and how things run, but I definitely want to do my own thing. I will probably do longer versions of the pieces on the album-- kind of extend out and tweak the sounds so it is a little different from the records. There is more I can do live than in a studio.

tH: On a personal level, what do you enjoy more – classical tabla or this “new stuff”?

S: Classical music takes so many years to develop properly. It gives me a deeper satisfaction than everything else. But everything has its place. There is a time to listen to reggae and a time to listen to electronic music. And I am interested in all these things. In terms of preference, it is hard to say. I am creating what I am capable of creating right now and hopefully (my music) will be ever changing and growing. Sometimes I wonder why I am doing what I am doing, mostly though, I just know that I have to do it. There is no other choice for me.

~ Uma Amuluru may not be skillful on the tabla, but she’s a writer who aptly gets her Bhangra groove on at least once a month.




music, books, film, tv and websites


Yo Mama’s Last Supper

The recently opened “Committed to the Image: Contemporary Black Photographers” exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum of Art has sparked yet another controversy in the art world. At the center of this controversy is Renee Cox and her piece, “Yo Mama’s Last Supper.” Her photograph, a rendition of Da Vinci’s “The Last Supper,” shows Jesus as a nude, black woman-- coincidentally modeled by Cox herself-- which New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani has been quick to call “anti-Catholic” and “disgusting.” Cox, a Jamaican raised in Scarsdale, attended Catholic school until the fourth grade. She developed an interest for photography as a teenager and has not looked back. Her work has been shown in places like the New Museum of Contemporary Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and Aldrich New Museum of Contemporary Art in Connecticut. Her piece is a critique of the Catholic tradition’s unyielding attitude towards blacks and women. The photograph is neither lewd nor suggestive of anything sexual or erotic. What stands at the center is the black female form, unadorned, which apparently is something all Catholics and decent citizens should find dangerous, particularly in Cardinal Egan’s time of “so many temptations.” Surrounded by righteous dreadlocked apostles, with the exception of Judas who happens to be a Caucasian, the scene is one of serenity and peace. Cox’s photograph challenges you to liberate your perception of Jesus from his media imposed image as a bearded, white male to that which gives you personal strength. Get some religion and check it out.

~ Bahia Ramos enjoys art that is provocative because she understands that, depending on the artist, even an etch-a-sketch can politically and socially rock someone’s mind.




media bits and news bytes


Women of Color in Corporate Management:

Here is how the earnings of each subgroup of female managers compares
to each $1.00 earned by white male managers:

White women: 59 cents
Asian/Other women: 67 cents
African-American women: 58 cents
Hispanic women: 48 cents

Each subgroup of women makes less than her male counterpart.

Median weekly pay of women managers in the private sector by subgroup:

Asian/Other $593
White $528
African-American $514
Hispanic $423




expressing ourselves


Growth and Retrospect: A Bittersweet Experience
by Marcia Jones

You may already know of me through someone else's words-- Saul Williams and his book “SHE.” I am SHE. This is my first exposed writing attempt to share my side of the story, to balance out the scales and to give the female perspective. This is just a fraction of it. I have six full journals that tell the whole story, but these entries you are about to read mark the few monumental moments that changed the dynamics of my physical, spiritual, and mental being in that relationship. Discovering motherhood, discovering unconditional love, discovering anger and hate for someone you wish and technically are supposed to love so much but can't. See basically we, like many other young, creative, artistic, couples that had babies too soon, tried to force ourselves into a traditional relationship because that was all we knew. To try to reinvent something new was extremely painful, premature and straight-up hard. Mind you, we were (and still are) in the process of discovering creative self, trying to raise a child, and maintain a home. Either you both sacrifice, no one sacrifices, or one person makes all the sacrifices. I, in my opinion, was the lamb and the muse. I lost and gave it all-- my beauty, my heart, my secrets, my gifts, my mind... especially my mind, and he wrote about it. But my mother taught me how to take responsibility for my actions, to claim my own truth and most importantly, how to survive. Now in the end, I realize it wasn’t anyone’s fault, just something that was supposed to happen. A life's lesson. Today I am stronger, wiser, more creative and beautiful because of it. Growth and retrospect are wonderful things.

2.9.96: A prayer for my unborn child…

Nocturnal baby
Moved by moon
Inside my womb
I no longer bleed by moon
Mother of night
When all things are conceived, as they are conceived
I pray that you bless upon me the strength to be as you
Your guidance and light
Please mother protect this life
Place a circle around us unshakeable
Never swayed, vibrated, or violated by those not knowing.

7.11.96: The day I discover he didn’t love me…

I feel as though you love her as you “deal” with me
Leaving me to live up to expectations in which she fulfills for you so perfectly
I watched as the words fell from your mouth and filled the air
I watch them all breath in your words. Intoxicated with my pain
I sit confused holding our newborn child, insecurely, restlessly.
You have left me here in this relationship; confused
I am trying desperately to love you unconditionally
Why am I still climbing that wall?
Patience? Belief in potential?
But for how long?
Nothing has ever stuck me harder than this
Why did you ever tell me you loved me?
Were you trying to convince yourself?
I wish for this uncertainty to be gone from my head
But I am still left with questions
Do we work this out, once we work this out, and can we love each other?
What’s wrong with me?
Am I being tolerated?
This relationship we have is not love.

6.22.98: New York City…

I have made a home of this place
Concrete and chaos
I proclaimed when I moved here that I wouldn’t be…
The way I am now.
Drifting in my thoughts to escape
Searching my mind for simple pleasures
Survival makes the poor man happy here
But what about living life with passionate laughter
Everybody’s face is blank with struggle…and so is mine
I don’t even smile like I use to
This place has served its purpose.
I have to go now.

7.17.98: It’s been 2 years…

I am filled with bitterness
This morning I am tired
This morning I look, feel, and sound tired.
Angry at the sight
Disgusted with the sound
I cannot find room to love
I hear through your lies
I wish to throw things at you
Curse you
Leave you
But I think you’d find it charming. My pain
And I feel it is wrong to cloud you with my gray jealously
I feel selfish to fill your joy with my sorrow
My love for you gets me nowhere and I have given myself to you
I do not wish to own you but clearly you are not mine
So I hold my tongue and my mouth begins to ache
I knew you’d lie before I asked the question
Because you always do.
I could scream things to hurt right now
And I can’t tell if I am shaking from this cold, or my anger.
No matter how far I go or you go
There is no distance that separates this
Here we are in the corners of the fucking world asking the same damn questions
We are not capable of loving each other
I am not able to love you the way you need to be loved
You are not able to love me he way I need to be loved
I hate myself for this
I hate you for this
I hate us for this
Today there is no spell that can bind me to your hollow words and empty promises
I was happy without you a week ago
And you where happy without me a week ago
And that, my friend, is the only truth we have seen to be true.

2.25.01: Today

If I am to honestly share my self with you
I must begin by saying I am untitled

Titled once with labels of sweetness
Pick from my branch
To feed another life at my ripest age
My nectar falling spilling from his lips, belly full and satisfied
I said. As long as you are full my love
Bestow upon me life again I will always feed to you
But no food, no water, no soil to grow
I witnessed the death of my sweetness
With nothing left of me but core and seed I became bitter
I lived
To die
To be reborn
From the same root
Same shape
Same fruit
Different taste

If I am to honestly share my self with you today
I must continue by saying I am untitled

Knowing only the blue movements of the wind
I hear her song and dance to her rhythm
Absorbing the heat of Vermillion sunrise
Her warmth nurturing the arrival of my sweetness
Hanging here alone from this branch
I impatiently await my ripeness again
Stroking the air as a testimony of the passion this fruit contains
As if willing wishing to fall
For us fruit cannot deny the pleasures of being eaten
But my branch
My root
Will not surrender
If I am to share myself with you today
I must finish by saying I am unfinished
I too wait the day this process is complete
Even though
I have found comfort in the wait
I am eager of the arrival
Of my new, sweet, ripe, nectar
For on that day
Rays of light will shine over me
And I will fall slowly, gracefully, peacefully, through the air
Into the hands of the unknown, yet the hands I have prayed for
This time prepared to be eaten
By my love.

~ Marcia Jones is a visual artist, who resides in Los Angeles, CA with her and Saul's beautiful little girl. Some of her works include the cover art of Saul Williams’, The Seventh Octave (Moore Black Press), illustrations throughout SHE (Simon & Schuster/MTV Pocket Books), cover art for Jessica Care Moore's upcoming, The Alphabet vs. The Ghetto (Moore Black Press, 2001), cover art for Tish Benson's, She's Smellin’ Herself Strong (2001), Saul Williams’ CD, Amethyst Rock Star (Sony/DefAmerica, 2001), and cover art for Ahmad Jamal's, The Renaissance (ABB Records).






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© theHotness 2002