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Published on December 1st, 2014 | by Jameelah "Just Jay" Wilkerson


Merna: Die To Be Reborn

Let’s hop right into this new solo LP of yours The Calling — Conceptually, what does that title represent both to and for you?

The Calling is about putting down what you think you know, so that you can hear the call of the universe, your own voice, etcetera. It represents growth.

It’s lead single/video is entitled “Better Run” — What exactly is this song all about? And, how did it come to fruition?

This song is the climactic point of the journey to answering the call. It’s the part where the space between the rock and the hard place is getting smaller. You have to decide whether to run or fight. It was actually inspired by a conversation I’d heard between 50 Cent and Oprah (Winfrey).

The project is executive produced by yourself, Ali Shaheed Muhammad [ATCQ] and Makai Black — What particular string of events actually led to this unification?

A couple years ago, I met Ali through Doc McKinney, legendary producer and collaborator/friend of mine. We had a listening session in Toronto. The energy was right. Been friends since. Makai Black and I started working on this album around that time. We had about 7 songs decided on for the album. Some time later, we all spent a couple months in a studio together building on music. The last 3 were created with Ali, and it all came together. All things are meant to be.

“All I Want (I Wonder)” is said to have been inspired by OutKast’s Andre 3000 — Tell me about this particular composition…

It was. I really felt The Love Below. “Prototype” is so beautiful. Andre is so honest. I felt connected to the emotions of that song. I wanted to make something as beautiful. “All I Want…” is about the need for connection, but also the inability to really feel. We’re so desensitized and distracted by our histories, what we’ve been taught about communication and relationships, the games we play, the laws of power, and so on. Most of us are emotionally unavailable. I think all anyone really wants or needs is love.

Because your past works have heavily featured contributions from both DJ Jazzy Jeff and James Poyser, among others — What’s the direct connect between you and Hip-Hop culture in general?

Both amazing people and musicians. Well, I met him — Hip-Hop — when I lived in Abu Dhabi, believe it or not. We took a brief break when I moved to Seattle. Then when I moved back to Toronto, I dove right in to the booming Hip-Hop scene, started to research previous works that had impacted the culture; lyrics, flows, beats, dance, art, everything…A great love affair.

For this project, you dropped your original moniker Ayah and have now assumed using just Merna — What prompted this decision?

One of us had to go for the other to live. Die to be reborn. Merna is full circle.

Who have been your greatest inspirations musically and why?

To name a few: Bob Marley. Marvin Gaye. Nina Simone. Cheb Khaled. Whitney Houston. Stevie Nicks. Trent Reznor. Andre 3000. Kanye West. Erykah Badu. Also, everyone I’ve had the pleasure of working with. Why? They’re all great.

In having said that, how then would you classify the style of music that you create and perform?

Superhero music.

What do you want people to get from your music?

Everything. The truth. Emotion. Whatever they need at that moment in time.

What has been your greatest achievement so far?

Learning how to love myself.

What do you feel it is that will be the ultimate key to your longstanding success in music?


As for the immediate future, what’s next for you, Merna?

To enjoy this ride.

Any “closing” thought(s) for our readers?

If not you, then who?


By: Todd Davis

About the Author

Publisher and CEO of The Hype Magazine. Follow me on Twitter @HypeJustJay

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