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Harlingen’s Music Organizer and Hip-Hop Artist

(This article was written by Steven Hughes and appeared in the July 2024 issue of Explore Harlingen Magazine.)

It’s a clear and dry evening sky painting Harlingen’s downtown scene, and there’s a tall and thin musician with iconic medium-short tight Afro curls preparing his weekly open mic night that’s exploded with popularity, seeing more than 20 attendees at Harlingen’s only sky lounge.

Amani engaging with the crowd. Photo courtesy of George Glass.

Isaac “Amani” Newman incorporated this routine into his music career in October 2023. He’s also practicing his art, which led him to host an event that reflects the opportunities he was given when he started to perform in 2019.

Newman is a familiar face to several venues within the Rio Grande Valley (RGV), performing at The Flying Walrus, a live music venue in McAllen. Now, he’s ensuring creatives can connect, thanks to his open mic night at Luna Sky Lounge in Harlingen.

“The opportunity came up for us to collaborate, and I took it because I like what he’s about,” Raymond Reyes, the owner of Luna Sky Lounge, said. “He needed a place that’ll allow his open mic, and he doesn’t have many restrictions.”

Amani rapping. Photo courtesy of George Glass.

One of these open mic nights became something bigger when Newman collaborated with the sky lounge, Baba Sid, who helped Amani with the prize, and shoe company gods of the sneaker world with the Battle on the Roof that saw over 20 participants on June 4.

Newman’s community organizing powers are just a taste of his hard work. He’s releasing solo and collaborative music while getting his psychology education at the University of Texas RGV.

New music has entered Newman’s fans through his latest album: “ENIGMA.” He explained that it means its dictionary definition of being hard to understand. The idea stemmed from his experiences of people setting expectations on his ethnic identity (a light-skinned biracial Latino and Black man) to a semi-policing point.

Amani hyping crowd. Photo courtesy of George Glass.

The opening song, “GHOST,” immediately tackles the topic with a line from Boondocks ranting about why a certain word is offensive. Newman said people have enjoyed the album since its release in March.


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