To see Philly-based hip-hop quartet Halfro play live is to partake in one of the most fun and rare experiences a live show-lover can have: a young band with impeccable execution that gives its always-eclectic audience a raucous party while showing no sign of stagnation. When the band drops their debut self-released EP Squalor at Saturday’s album release show at 3rd and Girard, audiences will get to hear that energy dropped straight into a lively, sometimes-existential-always-rollicking record that successfully captures a great deal of their live show’s immense power. Continue reading →
The thought, 20 years ago, of Boyz II Men and Nirvana having anything to do with one another might have paralyzed the pop world with fear and anger. But in front of a small audience at Philadelphia’s High School for the Creative and Performing Arts (where the RnB legends famously formed while students), members Shawn Stockman and Wanya Morris felt no hesitation or weight of historical genre divides when they ripped into an impromptu, largely comical version of “Smells Like Teen Spirit”. Continue reading →
To describe Steven Ellison, better known as the Los Angeles-bred Flying Lotus, with traditional signifiers is a pretty difficult endeavor. He’s not quite a jazz artist, although his pieces smack of the heavy-concept, free-form complexity that defines that genre in the 21st century. He’s not quite a hip-hop producer, although his rhythms derive from the canon of that world’s sonic tapestry and ground performances from superstar luminaries like Kendrick Lamar. And he’s not even an electronic artist, despite his heavy use of blippy synths and membership on the genre-defining (and -redefining) Warp Records label. Continue reading →
With more than enough English-language music flooding American airwaves to make even the most eclectic music-lover’s heads spin, a group like Puerto Rico’s Calle 13 might easily fall under the radar. Maybe you were lucky enough to hear their eccentric mid-2000s breakout hits “Atréve te-te” and “La Jirafa” at a college- or work-sponsored Latin music night and thought “Hey, this is a pretty cool beat,” before shimmying your hips off-rhythm for the next few hours. Continue reading →
Given Philadelphia’s recent penchant for high-profile festivals whose acts carry the torch for pop’s evolutionary bent – a wordy way of saying that the festivals “aren’t lame or played out” - Saturday’s Foxtail Fest has remained conspicuously under-the-radar. This isn’t for lack of star-billing by any means – Saturday’s all-day electronic- and hip-hop-focused festival features a headlining set from SZA, a buzzed-about downbeat RnB singer whose evocative vocals and lush instrumentals led to her 2014 EP Z receiving tremendous acclaim. Sets from A$AP Mob upstart A$AP Ant and Philly’s own master-producer DJ Noah Breakfast (a.k.a. Xaphoon Jones of Chiddy Bang), among others, promise to bring large audiences of their own. So why is this festival so comparatively hushed? Continue reading →
For many local music fans, “West Philadelphia” is synonymous with DIY ethics and dingy basements, guitar howls and lost hearing. While there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that, those whose predilections lean towards hip-hop and breathing room might feel short-changed.
Obscura creates a space for those others, building off of the Cedar Park neighborhood’s rich diversity and deep-rooted progressivism to create a space where incendiary hip-hop and indie music can find a home. Continue reading →
As the country and world turn their attention to the turmoil that has engulfed Ferguson, MO, in the wake of Michael Brown’s death at the hands of police, the music world has responded in its own way. Unforgiving and stark musical messages from respected hip-hop artists like J.Cole and Ms. Lauryn Hill contribute to a conversation that also sees Killer Mike, Talib Kweli, Frank Ocean, and St. Louis native Nelly taking to social media and the press, attempting to address a community and nation at odds with how to handle the violence. The responses bare some similarity to the ways in which hip-hop addressed the post-Rodney King verdict violence in Los Angeles almost two decades ago, providing the rest of the country with a sobering look into the realities of violence and racism in the American inner city.
Gifted Overbrook Park-based rapper and singer MilLionZ, who burst onto our radar last year with a searing guest verse during singer-songwriter Ryan Tennis’s “Fight Song” (check out Tennis’s Key Studio Session to listen to the track), is adding his unique voice to that conversation. Continue reading →
Let’s get something out of the way: it’s really easy to make plays on King Britt’s name. The king is back! Long live the king! Even the title of this piece was painstakingly chosen after a lot of agony over what would be slightly witty without being superfluously cheesy (you can argue about whether or not this was successful in the comments).
Still, the man whose official documents read “King James Britt” has left a legacy for which such comical proclamations are actually quite accurate. For over two decades, the 40-something DJ and Philly native has commanded a tiny kingdom of rabid followers through a variety of beloved and critically lauded endeavors. For these fans, which endeavor they care about the most says a tremendous amount about who they are. Perhaps they were drawn to Britt’s multi-year tenure with the bi-costal hip-hop institution Digable Planets, where his genre-mixing aesthetic slant sat effortlessly with the Plantes’ Afro-centric, laid-back brand of quiet innovation.
Some might’ve instead been captivated by Britt’s unquenchable experimental and avant garde tendencies, manifest in numerous groundbreaking and headscratchingly trippy side projects; these projects have propelled him to a very different kind of recognition, garnering him Pew and NEA grants and putting him on stage at places like TEDxPhilly and the Institute of Contemporary Arts. Continue reading →
Of all the shining local stars we’ve featured on WXPN, few have seen their fortunes rise quickly as Marian Hill. When they take the stage this Friday at the XPoNential Music Festival, they will be doing so on the heels of escalating tour momentum, glowing reviews in national news outlets, and a boatload of raw talent – all of which has come together within only a year-and-a-half of their official formation.
It would be foolish, however, to think too much of the duo’s relative youth (both as a band and as 24-year-olds). Vocalist Samantha Gongol and producer/beatsmith Jeremy Lloyd possess the rare mix of gracious humility and insatiable, studied ambition that strongly correlates with creative longevity.
“We still have a long way to go, but already realizing so many dreams and having this type of audience…it’s been out of this world,” says Lloyd. Continue reading →