Months ago, when I asked James Armstead Brown, one of my project advisers, to recommend people for me to make ringtones with, the first person he named was Emmai Alaquiva. I’d already known that Alaquiva’d won an Emmy–Mid Atlantic, for music composition and arrangement of the WQED documentary Fly Boys: Western Pennsylvania’s Tuskegee Airmen—but I’d never met him in person. Emmai is CEO of Ya Momz House, LLC (a recording and production studio located in East Liberty). He is also Production Director of WAMO 106.7FM, and the Executive Director of the Hip Hop on L.O.C.K. (HHOL) Project. He’s a super busy gent. When I rang him up, he invited me to visit Ya Momz House. And when I asked Emmai for a ringtone, he invited me to come over one Saturday–that the HHOL students would make some tones for the project.
The group of students working with Emmai and Yah Lioness (who’s got her own righteous tones in this project) that Saturday had named themselves Tha Myx Up–they turned out two excellent ringtones for the project.
Ricky Burton, Earl Comunale, Dominique Darden, Dominique McCorkel, Makala McGinnis, Justin Menefee, Hy’Keem Moore, and Latrice Rose all took turns at the mic, sometimes individually and sometimes in small groups, rapping, rhyming, playing percussion and making up beats. After a series of takes, Emmai would play them back. The sound amplified through the Ya Momz House system from the very expensive mic that the students used had such incredible fidelity! Throughout the session, Yah Lioness worked alongside Emmai helping the students to further develop and polish their ideas.
The first tone is called Ring Ring. Largely designed by young ladies in the group, this rhyme explains exactly why a young person might wanna pick up their phone rather than ignore its ringing. Nobody wants to get in trouble, after all…
The second tone was created by some very funny young men in the group. Here’s the Pick Up the Phone (HHOL) Tone. It lists the sorts of, um, delicacies that might keep a person’s hands full (and therefore too full to answer the phone in a timely fashion).
I was at HHOL for about two hours that Saturday–the students kept going strong with ideas and collaborations before moving onto their next task. But before I left, Emmai insisted I choose a hip hop name and made me promise to write about it in the blog. It wasn’t easy, picking a whole new name for myself–but from now on, in addition to T. Foley or Teresa, you can call me T-Tone.
Thanks to everyone (Emmai, Yah Lioness, the students and Program Director Beth Snyder) for helping to produce what will be, I’m certain, two of the most popular tones in this public art project!