Key Fest At-A-Glance: A set of simmering Philly hip-hop and R&B with Brielle, The Bul Bey, Jacqueline Constance and Tiani Victoria

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Brielle
Brielle | Photo by Reji B. | rejibphotography.com

I kind of see our first-ever Key Fest as a tour of the Philly scene, from the basements to the coffeehouses and ending up in thenightclubs. Since the concluding night of the series happens to be on a Saturday, we had to make it a party by getting together some of our favorite voices in Philly hip-hop and R&B and bringing them to the MilkBoy stage. Here’s a look at what’s in store.

Saturday, April 25th – R&B / hip-hop / soul

Tiani Victoria caught our ear when she spit a fierce verse on Reek Da Rookie’s Halloween single a year and a half ago. That winter, “Million Dollar Flow” dropped and it was like woah. Tiani has confidence, charisma, a razor-sharp delivery and a clever way with words. She’s been working on her debut mixtape Hard Candy for the past year – in between gigs at the TLA and opening for A$AP Ferg at the Electric Factory – and when it finally dropped earlier this week, Hip Hop Since 1987 hailed it as an “#InstantClassic.” With a range of influences from Sade to Kanye it’s easy to see why. She’s been rehearsing with a band for Key Fest and gonna launch the party on Saturday in a big way.

Jacqueline Constance can do soul with no problem; her mixtape The Jacqueline Show proved that. But her re-invention in the year since dropping that record has been equally exciting and inspiring. With the aid of a looper pedal, Constance can layer and maniuplate her voice, and between beatboxing and melodic riffing, she can essentially act as her own backing band. Is she the first artist ever to use sound loops in her shows? Certainly not. Is she great at it? Oh yeah. Be on the lookout for covers of Sylvan Esso and Lauryn Hill in the mix with her own originals, like the stellar single “The Good Life.”

The Bul Bey has been doing his thing for a few years now, but his new album Shaking Hands and Kissing Babies is an arrival for the Philly MC. It’s his first release with the always-on-point Illvibe Collective, and it was ushered in by one of the most engaging music videos we’ve seen in a long time. While “Where I’m From” tells all sides of growing up in the city, the good and the bad, the video’s bright and positive look is a perfect mirror of the song’s feel-good summertime jam sound. On the rest of the record, Bey goes clubby, hits hard and gets sentimental at moments, and his live sets are equally dynamic and engaging. So glad he could join us for this show.

Brielle is one of our favorite new artists that we’ve stumbled across in the past year. Her music bridges worlds – it’s R&B with a psychedelic soul, drifting and dreamy, creatively packaged with flourishes of flute, jazzy horn arrangements and occasional forays into rhyme. I caught a recent set at Voltage Lounge where she worked an Erykah Badu cover into her repertoire, and it’s clear that the neo-soul icon is Brielle’s spirit animal (or one of them anyway). Last year we heard The Rough Breakup EP which featured the graceful, elegant single “144,000” – her appearance on the Key Studio Sessions this winter was dazzling. If her Key Fest set has even just a tenth of that magic, it’ll be an amazing way to close the weekend.

Key Fest Night Three takes place at MilkBoy, 1100 Chestnut Street, on Saturday, April 25th. Doors for the 21+ show are at 8:30 p.m., tickets are available now, more information can be found at the XPN Concert Calendar. Read Part One of our Key Fest preview series here and Part Two here

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