Navani Knows: Vast Aire’s Exclusive Interview on Brooklyn Bodega Radio

There are times when my whole life comes full circle and the stars align and everything makes perfect sense. Not many, but few. Like for instance, when I cross paths with someone I grew up with in my present career. That’s what happened this past week when I was able to reconnect with my childhood friend, Vast Aire.

Vast and I met in high school working an arts-based after school job that his father ran. He stood out not only because of his size (some think that’s where his name was derived from), but for his vocal ability. He was a rapper, since before I met him at 15. He did rapper like things, for example, carrying around a notebook that he constantly wrote in, kicking verses at the drop of a dime and battling in ciphers. When someone asked what he aspired to be, he said with conviction, “a rapper.” This wasn’t as common or easy to say as it is today. Today, everyone is a rapper.But then it wascommon  to not take this seriously. I mean, no one we knew ever did this profressionally.

Cut to some 15 years later (yikes, totally dating myself) and we cross paths once again. Him as a rapper for more than a decade and me as a music journalist. It was a treat to be able to reach out to him not only on a personal level, but this time profressionally and ask him for an interview to promote his latest project. He’s had a long, successful career thus far that continues with the release of his upcoming EP and LP OX Street Odyssey 2010.

He agreed with only two days notice to come on the show. It was great to catch up.  Not only was he humble but completely candid as he addressed rumors of beef in the game and Cannibal Ox breaking up. It’s refreshing to actually speak to an artist this way, where nothing is off limits. It doesn’t happen often in this game where everything is scripted and publicists give a list of demands before any interaction.  

Most importantly, we also got to hear more about the making of his latest opus which features  Hip Hop heavywweights Raekwon, Cappadonna (he’s on the single “I Don’t Care“), Guilty Simpson and Vordul Mega. Check out the entire interview here on Brooklyn Bodega Radio.

OX Street Odyssey 2010 EP is dropping March 3rd. The LP due out in May.

Photos via Google

Navani Knows The Album Of The Year and Serendipity

NYC never ceases to amaze me. Every time I contemplate moving I have an experience that reminds me why I struggle so much to stay here. Take last night for instance. I left my house en route to the Black Milk Album Release party, dreading going to another event alone. I mean, yes, I knew there would be some people I know in attendance, but I just loathe actually “attending alone.” You know, the awkward moments walking in and hanging around waiting to see someone you know to then tag along with them. I am not good at awkward in-between moments. Luckily, my night didn’t have any of them.

Waiting at my bus stop, I serendipitously met a fellow creative type. He was looking for a restaurant in my neighborhood that sadly didn’t exist anymore. But in the brief 2 minutes we had to talk before my bus came I learned he was a singer/songwriter transplant from Kentucky named Darnell Levine. I told him that if he wanted something to do in BK to check out Southpaw.  I left, thinking I would prob never see him again and a lil disappointed we didn’t get to exchange info. But he actually did find both Southpaw and me later on in the night. It was a total movie moment that could only happen in NYC.

I finally arrive @ Southpaw and enter alone. Since none of my Brooklyn Bodega peeps are here I figure I should hit the bar to give me something to do until I can either 1. Interview Black Milk or 2. Find my homegirl  EbonyPeace to run amok with. I thankfully didn’t have to entertain myself too long because at that moment my homie 88-Keys ran up on me. I thought it was some dude trying to be funny, but alas it was someone I knew, phew. I was glad to catch up with him since he is never on the scene now that he is happily married with two children. I guess he came out to support the Detroit music movement that would be taking place that night. He also introduced me to another musician named QD, J. Dilla’s cousin and an emcee. After he walked off and I attempted to look totally amused standing there alone, Skyzoo and Illmind came in and grabbed a drink with me. I hadn’t caught up with them since my video debut in “Frisbees.” Skyzoo lamented that “Album of the Year” was not available in Target. Illmind ordered a Long Island Iced Tea and told me he thought the new album was absolutely amazing.

The night continued on in this fashion, more people I knew flooding in, more catching up. I never did actually find myself ever alone. I floated around the venue hopping from co-workers to friends to industry peers. Hit up backstage and did what Black Milk described as a “painless” interview before he took the stage. Watched Pharoahe Monch come in and discuss his new project with BM. He told us that he just got vocals back from Jill Scott  that he is excited about. BM suggested he come to Detroit and hit up the studio. Will a BM beat make it on there? Guess we will see.

The show was one of the best I have been to in awhile. Guilty Simpson did his thing. Sean Price of course, killed it – rude and crazy as he is. The crowd loved it and so do I.  Pharoahe Monch took the stage with Sean P. and Black Milk to perform their song “Matrix”. That was a nice treat. Black Milk’s set was awesome accompanied by his band. He played old faves like “Fall in Love” (Slum Village) and of course new songs off “Album of the Year” – including my fave”Deadly Medley.” Talib Kweli was in the building to support along with Jean Grae and Rah Digga . DJ Spinna was on the 1’s and 2’s. And just when you thought it was over Black Milk bought out Jay Electronica to say what’s up and then closed by performing a joint with Sean P. and Guilty Simpson off the Random Axe project.

What impressed me most about the night was that there were as many artists in the audience as there were on stage. I mean, people came out as fans and that is always great to see. The place was packed! So much so that Black Milk was completely stunned and overwhelmed. He just couldn’t believe the great response. I guess at the end of the day, we both felt right at home there at Southpaw that night. I realized hip hop has always been a home for me, a place where I feel truly comfortable and like I belong. With hip hop, I am never alone. Thankfully, that hasn’t changed.

Photo via Mr. Mass for