The Key Studio Sessions: Career Crooks

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I feel like “ravenous” is a solid adjective to use when talking about Philly rapper Zilla Rocca. Ravenous consumer of popular culture. Ravenous collector of hip-hop records and trivia tidbits. Can somebody ravenously rock the mic? I don’t know, but if it’s possible, he can do it.

He’s been kicking around the scene as long as The Key has been around, in various permutations of his Wrecking Crew collective: their hard-boiled 5 O’Clock Shadowboxers, his production and hype man work alongside Curly Castro, and his solo noir-hop outings. His latest is called Career Crooks, and it finds him teaming up with Small Professor for moody throwbacks to the late 80s and early 90s NYC scene; textural ref points include Nas, Mobb Deep, and 36 Chambers-era Wu-Tang (the semi-official Beatles of the Wrecking Crew), while Zilla’s gravelly flow recalls a bit of Action Bronson and Slick Rick.

For their Key Studio Session, Career Crooks played a tight and tidy ten-minute set touching mostly on their 2017 outing Good Luck With That, as well as its more recent remixes-and-outtakes collection Thieving As Long As I’m Breathing (which is where opener “Escapism 2.0” stems from). Listen closely for references to 80s-era cable channels, boutique shop South Fellini, the freelance grind (the subject of “Least Important Most Imortant,” which you can watch in video form) and John Hughes’ best film.

Watch and listen to the session below, and see Career Crooks when they play The Balcony at The Trocadero tonight, opening for Blueprint; tickets and more information can be found at the XPN Concert Calendar.

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