Antonia Reed, widely known as Bahamadia, began her music career DJing in the mid-1980s at house parties in Philadelphia. Her skills as a writer, poet and emcee became readily apparent, inspiring her to get from behind the turntables and out front on the mic to hone her ever-burgeoning wordsmith and rhyming skills.
She soon caught the attention of Guru from the hip hop group Gang Starr who provided guidance and helped her seal a record deal with Chrysalis/EMI records. There, she released her well-received debut album, Kollage.
Click on the player above to hear “5 on 5: Bahamadia” and get a feel for Bahamadia’s wordplay with these five essential tracks:
The Progressive Underground’s 5 on 5: Bahamadia
“Wordplay” is one of Bahamadia’s featured on Kollage. Featuring production from Guru and DJ Premier of Gang Starr, Kollage ended up receiving critical acclaim while capturing the respect of the underground hip hop scene. After the release of this album, her name was elevated as one of hip hop’s most potent wordsmiths and emcees.
2. Au Natural
In the same year Kollage dropped, Bahamadia caught the attention of Sweetback, made up of members of the band Sade. The band tapped Bahamadia for a cameo that resulted in the atmospheric and sublime tune, “Au Natural.”
3. One-4-Teen (feat. Slum Village)
In 2000, Bahamadia signed with the L.A.-based indie label Goodvibes and released the chilled-out seven-track EP BB Queen (which stood for “beautiful black”), which received rave reviews. On BB Queen, Bahamadia teamed up with Detroit’s own Slum Village on the track “One-4-Teen.”
The album, though short in duration, featured vision, talent, and organic sounds. This release pushed her beyond that of a rapper, rather highlighting her poetic nature that provides a total package of vocal styling, smart lyrical delivery, and bohemian coolness.
4. Beautiful Things (feat. Dwele)
Also featured on BB Queen, Bahamdia teamed up with another Detroit artist, Dwele, and released “Beautiful Things.” The epic tone poem details societal ills and social problems in a way wherein the message is just as timely as it was 20 years ago.
5. Something Like a War – Kindness feat. Bahamadia
In 2019, Bahamadia collaborated with the producer Kindness on “Something Like a War,” demonstrating her enduring status as one of hip hop’s most underrated and lyrical geniuses.
Haleemah Aqel contributed to this web story.