Catching Up with Mumu Fresh!

Posted: Aug 08 2013

If you’re not familiar with Maimouna Youssef, you’ve been missing out.  Maimouna, who also goes by Mumu Fresh, is an amazing singer, songwriter and emcee. She recently hooked up with Common for the Rock the Bells Tour and guess who she’s been rocking?  Yup, Simply Cecily! And I absolutely love how she’s been styling each piece.  The other day we sat down and here are some of the things she shared with me:


Cecily: What do you love most about being an artist?


Maimouna: I love the creativity that you get to have and the freedom to make up your own rules as an artist.  Art is like therapy. You get a chance to be your own therapist and somebody else’s therapist too.


Cecily: My mom is an artist and I know your mom is a singer too. What was it like growing up under her?


Maimouna: I definitely got a lot of the discipline aspect of being an artist from her.  She was kind of like Joe Jackson a little bit.  I was the only one that had to rehearse.  I guess she saw something in me as a 5 year old, like she’s going to be a singer.  I had to study and learn certain songs.  I had vocal homework too. But it was also dope.


Cecily: Tell me about your style and how Simply Cecily fits in your style.


Maimouna: I’ve always wanted to bring culture into the music business.  There was a short window during the “neo soul” movement where people tried to bring a little influence into it but it was hodgepodge. It was black culture but it wasn’t African culture. I’ve always wanted to bring a part of myself into the business and make it fly.  That’s what I love about your clothing.  It is young, fresh and fun, but clearly you’re not hiding the African influence and I think that’s dope.  The night we were at Nas’ party, he stepped back and looked at me and said “I like what you’re doing. This is fly. I love that you’re rocking your culture.” Common was like, “Where you be getting all the fly African clothes?”


Cecily: How did you end up hooking up with Common?


Maimouna: I’ve known Common for years. I recorded on one of his albums.  Earlier this year, I went to Nigeria and performed with Femi Kuti at The Shrine and when Femi came to the US, I performed with him in Central Park on Summer Stage.  Common happened to be walking by while I was performing and afterwards we ended up catching up. He said, “I got this gig coming up in Canada for Africa Day.  And since you into African culture, it would be dope if you came through.“  And then he said jokingly, “I know you know all those African words.”   He’s so funny.  It was cool because we did this song called “Time Traveling” and it has Yoruba at the beginning.  I added some other words I learned while I was in Nigeria. There were a lot of Nigerians there and they were loosing it!  After the show, Common was like “Can you just rock with me?”  I was like “Let’s go!” 


Cecily: How was it touring with Common on the Rock the Bells tour?


Maimouna: It was so much fun. The energy of everyone involved is so beautiful and Godly.  There’s prayer before shows and rehearsals.  It’s a cool vibe.  You don’t get that in hip hop a lot of the time.  He has a great team of folks. 


Cecily: What’s your most memorable moment on stage?


Maimouna: Probably the David Chappelle Block Party.  I was performing with Dead Prez and it was definitely one of the most exhilarating feelings of my life. There were some parts that weren’t on the movie.  I had an opportunity to freestyle with Big Daddy Kane, Coogi Rap, Black Thought, and Talib Kweli.  I almost fainted. 


Cecily: You released The Blooming in 2011. Do you have plans for a new album anytime soon?


Maimouna: I do. I’ve been recording, but I’m about to crunch down on myself in terms of getting this album together.  In 2014, I will release an album.


Cecily: What’s next for you?


Maimouna: God willing, I’ll be back in Nigeria in two weeks to perform at Felabration.  Then I’ll be performing on the Capital Jazz Boat Cruise.  I’m also going to record some songs for my album and recording with Common too. 


Cecily:  I can’t wait to hear your next album.  The Blooming was everything!  Thanks so much for sharing with me.  It means a lot to me that you get what I’m trying to do with Simply Cecily… giving women a way to express their culture through their clothing and look fly at the same time! 

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