Going from encouraging everyone to say “HOTSAUCE!” in welcoming the next artist to the mic at the CCCollective Open Mic, Nefertiti Akinyela is now taking her place on the stage. Arranging the mic stands to their proper setting she asks, “Are y’all feeling alright?” Though the event was created as a place where everyone can come together and share, there is no denying that the patrons anticipate Nefertiti’s performances through out the night. In her first strums of the guitar, the audience responds to her hit, “Your Truck” – a track sure to have your head bobbing as you find yourself quickly singing along with the lyrics. She throws back her head and smiles at the audience familiar response. It is that smile, her originality, dedication to her craft, and openness which will reach from Nefertiti’s music and touch many people.
You don’t have to be around Nefertiti too long to feel that she has a deep connection with herself and her roots. Chucking to herself, she describes how she would make instruments of random things she found around the house when she was younger. Her favorite was a vacuum hose that she would use to make the sound of a trumpet. Whenever company came over, she’d showoff her ability. It’s with this spirit that she tells of being raised in a family with a very afro centric based where she was taught to truly believe “Valor will conquer adversity” which is the meaning of her last name Akinyela.
Of the seven principles of Kwanzaa, Nefertiti says that she most closely relates to Ujamaa. It is also this belief that her father principled his business on. She describes it as the one she strives to attain through all the others. Through Umoja she seeks unity but as an artist she upholds Kuumba as inspiring humans and inspiration.
Just who is Nefertiti and the Neftunes?
As a true lover of hip-hop, Nefertiti has dubbed herself a hip-hop folk singer and describes the Neftunes as a concept that lives best and freely in the mind. As she states, “It’s not about the music but realizing your greatness”. Though she expresses her art to the world as the music she makes, she encourages people to join in. As a young poet, she wasn’t very comfortable with allowing just anyone to read her work. Through sharing it with others that she trusted, she realized that others were able to relate with her. A year after being given a guitar as a Kwanzaa gift, she came across a teacher that taught her to play from her spirit and soul. Ready to expand her talent, she looked towards producing her work but when she couldn’t find anyone to assist her in doing so, she taught herself.
Nefertiti encourages anyone that is interested in playing an instrument to first commit to that instrument. She says you must know that it’s going to be your best friend, your wife, your husband. After you make that commitment to learning, find someone you trust that will be enthusiastic with you. Even if it has to be one person at a time, look for someone that will be honest with you without tearing you down. Once you’ve done that the rest will fall into place. This is exactly what happened once she committed to her guitar. First learning a few strings and chords, she moved on to further defining her individuality. It was in these practice and learn sessions that she found her singing voice.
Driven by the need to express and she her music Nefertiti penned “Acoustic Gangsterism”, “F*** A Record Deal”, and “Revolution Music” within a two year time span. An eclectic blend of hip-hop and poetry sung over an acoustic guitar, these albums are refreshing in their unconventional nature. Talking of a generation where you no longer need record labels or big names to sign you for you to get your art exposed to others she explains that we must use technology to our advantage. Clearly utilizing her own advice you can find Nefertiti and the NefTunes on bandcamp, blogspot, twitter, facebook, myspace, youtube, and countless other promotional websites.
At the end of this particular night Nefertiti welcomes all the artists to the stage for a group photo. Just as interconnected as the night began, in Umoja it has ended.