Amine delivers his Tour For You to the TLA

Portland, Oregon’s Amine has had quite a year. He dropped a multi platinum single with “Caroline”, performed on huge talk shows and festival stages, did songs with people like Nelly, Charlie Wilson and Kehlani, and was picked as a XXL Freshman. Yet on my way to his Philly stop on the “Tour For You” (a play off the title of his excellent debut album Good For You ), my young Uber driver still had no idea who he was by name. It wasn’t until he asked me to play a song by him (I picked “Caroline” of course) that the driver began singing along to the melody, exclaiming “oh, I know this, it’s always on the radio!”. He also enjoyed the other songs from the album he heard, because it’s a dope, fun project. But when people know your big song but not your name, it’s a sign you might have bought a one way ticket to One Hit Wonderville. After seeing Amine’s live show, which grew my appreciation for his work even more, I can only hope that won’t be the case for him. Continue reading →


Celebrating the​ ​25th​ ​anniversary​ ​of​ ​​Bizarre​ ​Ride​ ​II ​The​ ​Pharcyde​​​ at​ ​Coda

The Pharcyde | photo by Reji B. for WXPN |

Every​ ​musician​ ​alive​ ​can​ ​name​ ​at​ ​least​ ​a​ ​couple​ ​albums​ ​that​ ​genuinely​ ​impacted​ ​them, whether​ ​they​ ​were​ ​direct​ ​influences​ ​on​ ​their​ ​own​ ​work​ ​or​ ​just​ ​sources​ ​of​ ​pure​ ​nostalgia;​ ​we​ ​all have​ ​some​ ​of​ ​THOSE​ ​albums.​ ​Some​ ​of​ ​those​ ​albums​ ​that​ ​will​ ​forever​ ​be​ ​dope​ ​to​ ​us,​ ​maybe because​ ​of​ ​the​ ​place​ ​and​ ​time​ ​we​ ​were​ ​in​ ​when​ ​we​ ​first​ ​heard​ ​them,​ ​or​ ​maybe​ ​because​ ​they’re just​ ​THAT​ ​important,​ ​that​ ​seminal,​ ​that​ ​damn​ ​good.​ ​LA-based​ ​hip-hop​ ​legends​ ​The​ ​Pharcyde’s debut​ ​​Bizarre​ ​Ride​ ​II​ ​The​ ​Pharcyde​​ ​is​ ​one​ ​of​ ​those​ ​albums​ ​for​ ​me.​ ​When​ ​I​ ​heard​ ​that​ ​former members​ ​Fatlip​ ​and​ ​SlimKid3​ ​would​ ​be​ ​performing​ ​the​ ​album​ ​in​ ​full​ ​at​ ​Coda​ ​in​ ​Center​ ​City,​ ​I already​ ​knew​ ​I​ ​had​ ​to​ ​go.

On​ ​the​ ​way​ ​to​ ​the​ ​venue,​ ​I​ ​wound​ ​up​ ​randomly​ ​sharing​ ​an​ ​Uber​ ​with​ ​my​ ​friend​ ​Slaughter Rico,​ ​a​ ​Philly​ ​rap​ ​legend.​ ​He​ ​was​ ​performing​ ​in​ ​the​ ​opening​ ​set​ ​alongside​ ​the​ ​rest​ ​of​ ​the​ ​Sensi Starr​ ​collective,​ ​a​ ​crew​ ​that’s​ ​been​ ​making​ ​a​ ​lot​ ​of​ ​noise​ ​in​ ​the​ ​tri-state​ ​underground​ ​hip-hop scene.​ ​Luckily,​ ​we​ ​made​ ​it​ ​to​ ​Coda​ ​right​ ​on​ ​time​ ​for​ ​him​ ​to​ ​hop​ ​on​ ​stage​ ​with​ ​his​ ​squad. Continue reading →


The Chief Comes To Philly: Jidenna at The Foundry

#LLTCTour | #Philadelphia | #SOLDOUT | 📷@yoleszlei for @fearandfancy

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Jidenna, one of the most dynamic artists out right now, occupies an interesting space in modern music: a pop/R&B/hip-hop hybrid that somehow manages to remain underrated (and even unknown despite his multiple hits) by many, yet still sells out multiple venues on his first ever headlining tour. One of these venues was the 450 capacity Foundry, located on the top floor of the Fillmore Philadelphia. Despite the sold out status of the show, I was able to squeeze myself in (thanks Live Nation) and catch my first live glimpse of one of my personal favorites doing it; spoiler alert: I was not disappointed. Continue reading →


B. Mack is Back: Beanie Sigel’s triumphant return to Philly at Voltage Lounge

Beanie Sigel | photo by Reji B. for WXPN | <A href= target="_blank"></a>
Beanie Sigel | photo by Reji B. for WXPN |

If you ask any 30+ hip-hop head in the Philadelphia community who the top 5 rappers are from their city, chances are every single self-respecting one of them will mention Beanie Sigel in that list. The State Property general’s unapologetically street style, complete with his trademark gruff delivery and straightforward bars, has made him a permanent fixture in Philly’s hip-hop history. While his peak relevancy was a bit before my time, I still grew up listening to a ton of Beanie and his State Prop cohorts, just learning how to rhyme from their natural technical abilities. Unlike most of my mentors and older friends in the scene here, I still hadn’t seen Beans live, and he was definitely still on my bucket list of artists to catch. So, of course, I had to make it out to Voltage Lounge this past Saturday to see his return to his hometown, along with a bill of fellow Philly legends and strong up and comers.

Continue reading →


Mick Jenkins spreads love in Philly at the TLA

Mick Jenkins | photo by Reji B. for WXPN | <A href= target="_blank"></a>
Mick Jenkins | photo by Reji B. for WXPN |

Chicago-bred rapper Mick Jenkins first caught my ear a couple years ago when I stumbled upon his Trees & Truths mixtape, before he blew up ‘cause I’m hip as all hell. I enjoyed his lyrics the most; his storytelling is vivid and his metaphors and similes clever without ever being trite. I also dug the jazzy production which suited his gravelly, deep, weathered-beyond-his-years voice as well. Then, in 2014, his magnum opus (so far) Water[s] mixtape dropped and Mick became much more known by hip-hop heads nationally. I saw him perform a somewhat surprisingly explosive set at the 150-capacity Barbary shortly after its release, and looked forward to seeing him on a bigger stage. After another solid EP and his debut LP, I got my wish, as Mick’s “Spread Love” tour stopped in Philadelphia at the much larger TLA this past Friday. Continue reading →


Hope Thru Hip-Hop: A fresh after-school program for Philly’s youth

Photo by Michael Boyle | courtesy of the artist
Photo by Michael Boyle | courtesy of the artist

When I was in high school, there were no hip-hop oriented after school programs to help cultivate my talent. All I had since I started rapping at age fourteen were whatever beats I could steal from random tapes, a notebook and my own brain to learn as much as I could about the craft I was beginning to pursue. I would have loved to have an organized group of mentors and peers to share in my love of hip-hop and to help develop what I wanted to do within the culture. Fortunately for the hip-hop inclined youth of Philadelphia, there is such a program: Hip-Hop Heritage, meeting at The Academy at Palumbo in South Philly.

When Aaron Sarkar, the Youth Programs Director for Hip-Hop Heritage, asked me to come perform for the kids and to speak about my own experiences as a hip-hop artist, I immediately obliged. I’ve never had the opportunity to speak to young aspiring hip-hop artists and enthusiasts like I wish someone had done for me, so this was something I was anxious to check off my bucket list. Continue reading →


So I opened for Killa Cam in Ardmore

Cam'ron | photo by Reji B. | courtesy of the artist | <a target="_blank"></a>
Cam’ron | photo by Reji B. | courtesy of the artist |

EDITOR’S NOTE: Philly rapper Voss has grabbed our attention here at The Key for his onstage charisma and lyrical wit, so when he hit us up pitching some musician’s-eye stories for the site, we were all ears. His first piece, a behind-the-scenes account of his gig opening for Cam’ron in Ardmore, is below.

Cam’ron is unquestionably one of the most beloved figures in hip-hop. He’s worshipped by 30 and 40 somethings who came up in the Dipset era, still wearing leather Pelle Pelle jackets and oversized fitteds with pride; but he’s also fully embraced by the younger hipsters who love his music for its tongue-in-cheek wit. The man has hits upon hits, and even at age 40, still has some of the best crowd control in the game. While I won’t say Killa Cam has been a direct influence on my personal musical style, he’s certainly one of my favorite rappers to listen to. Therefore, it was a no brainer for me to accept when I was offered an opening slot on the PA stop of his “Killa Season 2” tour. Continue reading →