Hip-hop iconography, by far, saves little room for strong female archetypes: Either you're a hot, scandalous ho; or a dear old mama. Fortunately, nobody gave taj anwar the memo.
Not only does she operate in Atlanta's underexposed hip-hop scene, she helps orchestrate a music-fueled movement from behind the scenes via the Crew Love collectives she periodically hosts.
With a body full of tattoos and a stone-cold countenance that rarely cheeses for the camera, the community activist isn't easily intimidated within the male-dominated culture.
"In fact, probably more people are intimidated by me than I am by them. They really think that I'm some renegade rebel – like I'm going to run up in the spot with an M-16 and kill everybody, just start busting shots off in the air like whatever. But that ain't me," anwar says with a laugh.
She certainly straddles paradoxical worlds, as both a mother of three and a model who boldly asserts her raw physicality in much the same way she acts upon her sociopolitical ideals. "I'm a model, but if I have to use that to get your attention, I don't mind doing that." She started Crew Love late last year with several creative collaborators to help bridge the divide between various hip-hop crews in the city.
Even before earning her doctorate in sociology, the 29-year-old was entrenched in community service. It's a way of life for anwar, whose list of activist affiliations hangs longer than her knee-length locks, and includes M.O.B.B. LLC (Mothers of Black/Brown Babies) and FTP (Free the People), which organized recent rallies against the Atlanta police murder of Kathryn Johnston.
Her well-earned aliases – Rebel Liuness, Glorious Truth Allah Justice, and her personal favorite, the Dopest Babies' Mama – speak volumes; but anwar lower-cases her real name to keep things in focus. "I'm not what's important. It's the work behind the name."
Crew Love Special Edition: Cease Fire – Stop Police Terrorism, featuring Big Heed, Stacey Epps, Mojo Swagger, the Dreamer, Gripplyaz. $7. 10 p.m., Fri., Nov. 30. Drunken Unicorn, 736 Ponce de Leon Ave.