Take a Soul Train dancer from 1974—one of them sistas who didn’t give a f*ck about cameras or Don Cornelius—well, if that sista made love to George Clinton and they had a baby girl and they let Patti Smith and Sister Carol raise that girl child in an embrace pre-dating same-sex marriage debates, that girl child woulda grown up to be Abiyah. By the early aughts, Cincinnati-based Abiyah hit upon a highly workable concoction: she fused her punk ethos with her love of Hip Hop, Dancehall, Dub, Alternative Rock and Spoken Word and racked up recorded collaborations and stage-to-the-page performances that resonate to this day—a poet published in the anthology Bum Rush the Page: A Def Poetry Jam (Three Rivers Press, 2001), Abiyah killed it on her impressive 2002 EP debut single “Free Wild Muse” produced by N8tiveSun, got all Grace Slick on 2004’s Coltrane Motion remix of her psychedelic cicada love song “Rise” and tweaked Bobby McFerrin’s notion of melodic vox on “Ring Around the Rosie,” an a capella/beatbox meditation recorded with Fairmount Girls’ Dana Hamblen and beatboxer Marty Spitfly.
A four-time CityBeat Cincinnati Entertainment Awards Hip Hop nominee and six-time MidPoint Music Festival veteran, Abiyah has performed at NYC’s Sidewalk Cafe with beatboxers Kid Lucky and Adam Matta, opened for avant-hip hop vanguards Mike Ladd and Beans, Brooklyn alt-rapper louis logic (Fake Four Inc.), and Anticon's Serengeti, and, in 2011, appeared on LA art-rapper Open Mike Eagle’s second full-length offering “Rappers Will Die of Natural Causes.” She has also performed at the Vans Warped Tour on the Code of the Cutz hip hop stage, and is a well-known all-vinyl reggae DJ with Cincinnati- based Queen City Imperial Soundsystem. Abiyah is planning an early 2014 release of "Ring Around the Rosie" on cassingle, with a B-side remix by Coltrane Motion's Michael Bond featuring louis logic, and is currently in the midst of several collaborations, including, but not limited to, EP projects with future jazz/lo-fi hip hop Russian producer Possible Address, Kry Kids' electro-rock guy Dave Rohs, and British female MC Rissa.
From her iconic days at the forefront of the floetry genre when she pre-dated and sidestepped the stereotypical lovelorn verses spit at coffeehouse open mics, to her postmodern style smeared and sometimes sung across any style she chooses, Abiyah still has something to say. And it’s gonna be in a language she invented. And it will be spoken, sung and rapped to the ages.
Recommended If You Like: Santigold, Open Mike Eagle, Kraftwerk, Sister Carol, MIA, Queen Latifah [+]