Aja Black says that misogyny and violence often show up in hip-hop music. But she believes the reason we have that subject matter in the music is because it’s reflective of our current culture.
“So, what we’re trying to do with our hip-hop music is just show that there’s a perspective that’s not being put into the mainstream media that’s positive and encouraging,” explains Black. “Inviting people to get along with one another and to love one another.”
Black and her husband Big Samir form the hip-hop group The Reminders. The group is in Traverse City performing as a part of Caravansarai. It’s a tour bringing Muslim-American performers to different parts of the country to share contemporary creative expressions.
Big Samir and Aja Black refer to themselves as emcees— not rappers. It’s a distinction they both take pride in. They say an emcee takes more time with the performing aspect of his craft and also in moving the crowd.
“Sometimes rapping feels like it’s at you, and emceeing is supposed to be with you— involving everybody and just making everybody feel like they’re a part of it,” says Black.
You won’t find any vulgar themes or lyrics in any of The Reminders’ songs. They feel like the artist has a certain responsibility to not only entertain but also to uplift.
The Reminders want people to leave their concerts feeling happy, "knowing everything is going to be alright, regardless of how rough it can be.”
“That’s why you come to music,” explains Big Samir.