Tygapaw and Abdu Ali link for spirit-affirming single, “Who I Am”

Sweat Equity will release Tygapaw’s debut EP, Love Thyself, on November 21.

Tygapaw and Abdu Ali link for spirit-affirming single, “Who I Am” Tygapaw   Photo by Josh Padarathsingh

Tygapaw is a force for good in New York nightlife: she's the founder of Fake Accent, a queer collective and party that celebrated its third birthday in the spring, and a regular fixture on discerning DJ lineups around the country. To round off her year, she's releasing her debut EP, titled Love Thyself, on Brooklyn label Sweat Equity later this month.

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On first single "Who I Am," she links with Baltimore's Abdu Ali for a spirit-affirming stomp that is as fond of ear-worm percussion as it is of sass. If surviving and thriving was a song, this would be it.

"Queer and trans people of color are often treated like second class citizens," said Tygapaw over email. "My experience living here in the States as a queer black woman from a developing country has been extremely challenging to say the least. I’ve often felt that as an immigrant your voice doesn’t matter, and you are pushed into an isolated state of silence. I wanted to write a song that empowers people like myself to speak their truth. 'Who I Am' is a song about unapologetically being who you are. It’s a song that challenges homophobia and hate speech. It’s an anthem for queer and trans black America."

Abdu Ali also spoke on the collaboration. "I first saw Tygapaw live at a music show I curated a few years ago in Bushwick," he said over email. "I knew her set was going to be amazing but when she was finished I immediately knew I just witnessed an emerging icon. It feels really good to see people you’ve been following become the star they deserve to be and it feels even greater to collaborate on a piece of art with them. Working with Tygapaw was organic because we creatively know another intimately and respect each other’s artistry. I already knew our song was going to be legendary before we even began working on it. I’m hella excited for people to liberate themselves through our song and to also make more bangas with Tygapaw!"

Sweat Equity will release Tygapaw's debut EP, Love Thyself, on November 21. Pre-order it here.
Tygapaw and Abdu Ali link for spirit-affirming single, “Who I Am”