Colorado writer and musician Adam Perry hosts a weekly podcast called Mile High Stash. Each Monday he drops a new episode featuring an interview with a Colorado musician or artist.
Recently, Mile High Stash interviewed Big Samir, emcee of the Reminders, a Colorado hip-hop/soul/roots music duo that features Samir and his wife and musical partner, emcee/vocalist Aja Black. In the five albums they’ve released since forming in the early 2000s, the Reminders consistently balance activism with their unique musical style.
During their interview, Adam and Samir talked about growing up all over the world, getting the group off the ground in Colorado Springs, and building a hip-hop scene there at a time when it didn’t really exist. Samir also shares what it’s like for he and Aja being activists, parents, and touring musicians.
Below are some highlights from the interview:
On his relationship with Aja:
“She globed her whole childhood and learned to speak German when she was in Germany. She got acclimated to all these different spaces, so we had this mutual feeling of, when we got here [Colorado Springs], like we’ve been all around the world and…here we are. Basically, you talk about 1998, Colorado Springs was still fairly small, so we could relate to our experiences, and we would always share music.
“When Aja finally was done with school, and we just started hanging out every day, she mentioned she had never really been to a concert. We started going to Reggae on the Rocks. We started going to watch Steel Pulse whenever they were around, you know what I mean? Every weekend we were going to a concert, and eventually our love for music and also being artists individually, it just grew. We formed a bond that was just so powerful.”
On connecting with communities:
“I tell people all the time, ‘Yeah, I was born in Belgium, but I was raised in the Congo.’ Some of my first memories of life were from being in Kinshasa, being in even a smaller village than that. And now, to be where I am—I’m a world-renowned artist, and there are times where I’ll perform at a school in southeast Denver, where there are little Congolese kids, and by the time I tell them I’m from Congo, they’re so excited. They’re like, ‘Wait, and you’re on a stage and you’re singing and I can see you on YouTube?’ It means something to them and it gives them this confidence that they can be that as well, you know what I mean? That’s fantastic. It’s huge. That’s my purpose—to light that fire into people.”
On building a hip-hop scene in Colorado Springs:
“I was [initially] in a different group, me and my sister’s ex-husband. We pretty much formed the hip-hop scene here. We used to go to talent shows, and that was the only platform of performing. We would go to different bars and clubs and ask if we could have a night. There was no hip-hop night. They didn’t want anything to do with hip hop.
“A club called the Underground Downtown gave us the basement to do whatever we wanted on Monday nights, which is an odd night. That’s probably why they gave it to us, but we turned it out. That cultivated this scene that grew over the years, and we did pretty good, man. We started opening for shows and selling out venues—and then we just kind of grew our separate ways. From there, as I was transitioning from being in a group to becoming a solo artist, that’s when I got with Aja.”
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