Marcus Harris has bounced around the east coast quite a bit over the past few years, absorbing a tapestry of sounds and ideas. A hip-hop kid from Florida, he got his start mixing live instrumentation with DJ-based rap while going to college in Pittsburgh, performing in the band Beatz ‘n’ Verbz. When that crew split and he moved to Philly, his new persona MH the Verb was in full effect. He dropped a bunch of funky Bandcamp mixtapes and gigged at spots like World Cafe Live while holding down a day job at a boutique record label.
Later, a stint in New York inspired him to stretch the project further into the multimedia realm. The long MTA rides from his place in The Bronx to the gallery and studio community in Brooklyn gave him a lot of time to think and plan. The song “Melly’s Walls,” which he performed in this week’s Key Studio Session, was inspired by arriving at a gallery gig early and watching as the artists hung their work on the walls; lyrics were written on the spot, and the song was recorded the next day and released on 2014’s The Balloon Guide.
These days, MH is back in Philly, and has been doing some great stuff with the production collective ArtHouse95. Continue reading →
Marcus Harris (aka MH The Verb) is a Philadelphia based rapper/producer/DJ and the front man for ArtHouse 95, a band and occasional multimedia arts collective that features his production partner/multi-instrumentalist GR Stone and producer/engineer George “Cylon” Casseus along with a fluid membership that is made up of a network creatives stretching alongside the I-95 highway.
Sitting in the basement of Harris’ Fishtown home (which doubles as a production studio where the crew write songs and produce beats) Stone explains the concept behind the ArtHouse95 movement.
“95 symbolically represents I-95. We have a strong connection with artists from New York, down to Philly, D.C. all up and down that spine that runs down the East Coast,” he says.
Rapper Marcus Harris, aka MH the Verb, relocated from Philly to the west coast earlier this year — but he returns east this spring, with a sci-fi tinged new project in tow.
Afronaut is LP made in collaboration with the electronic music ensemble Buscrates that, through sounds and visuals, will dissect the consumerism of 21st century American society through the eyes of a traveler from another time. Continue reading →
Philadelphia jazz-inspired hip-hop artist MH The Verb plays tonight at Silk City. The rapper recently released a video for his song “Last Dance” commemorating the 2015 terrorist attacks in Paris and Beirut in collaboration with his production collective ArtHouse95. Check out the video for “Last Dance” below and click here for more information and tickets. Continue reading →
As always, we’re thankful for Philadelphia music on this Thanksgiving day. The amount of talent in the scene is immense, and continues to flourish. But moreso, this year we’re thankful for Philadelphia artists who imbue their music with a message.
There’s a lot of unease in the country and the world right now. This Thanksgiving, Native American citizens are clashing with authorities at Standing Rock for standing up against energy companies. Members of marginalized communities around the country are uncertain and afraid in the wake of the election. Going further back, there are numerous instances throughout the year where injustice and inequality have manifested into violence of various degrees.
I still have enough faith in humanity to think that the majority of Americans don’t wish harm on any of our fellow people. But I also know that a lot of us don’t want to think about these things when our lives are not directly affected. Particularly at the holidays, which are times for togetherness and family. Particularly from musicians and music writers. It’s a refrain I’ve seen a lot the past few weeks — “I don’t want to hear protest songs that preach politics to me, I want music that helps me escape from all the negativity in the world.”
Philly artist MH The Verb has his feet firmly planted in various jazz, hip-hop and communities all along the east coast, and they converge in his most recent video — along with reflections on world events. “Last Dance in Paris,” which MH (offstage name: Marcus Harris) performed for his Key Studio Session this summer, is dedicated to the victims of both the Paris and Beirut terrorist attacks, and was released on their one-year anniversary. Continue reading →
Okay, so that’s a pretty heavy list already…and all of that’s not even to mention the world of EP and single releases, of which we’ve got a few standouts worth noting.
Dan Campbell’s storytelling folk project Aaron West and the Roaring Twenties delivers an interlude EP called Bittersweet, picking up where his title character left off after 2014’s We Don’t Have Each Other and setting him up for the next stage in his journey. Campbell takes cues from the narrative songwriting approach of The Mountain Goats, and with this set – and a followup LP he expects to drop in the next year – Campbell is nicely carving out a role for himself in addition to leading the charge for pop-punk heroes The Wonder Years. Bittersweet came out in May on Hopeless Records on tri-color vinyl, themed after the song names: Cherry Red, Carolina Blue and Seafoam Green.
With spirited hooks and lively playing, Philly’s Queen of Jeans charmed their way into the city’s collective heart following the January release of their self-titled debut; their XPNFest set this summer is one not to miss.
Singer-guitarist Cynthia Schemmer took some time off of Radiator Hospital to introduce the world to her solo outfit Swanning; their EP Drawing Down the Moon is a fierce collection of indie rock anthems.
The globally-oriented Worldtown Soundsystem made its long-awaited tried from rocking club nights to hitting the recording studio on their vibrant debut.
Bucks County’s Julia Hudak proves to be a local answer to Angel Olsen and Sharon Van Etten with her moving Careful of the Nettles EP.
Following his long stint with punk rockers Kite Party, singer-guitarist Russell Edling gets positively dreampoppy with Cherry.
Rapper MH the Verb steps out with witty rhymes and revved up beats on the ArtHouse95: Owl EP.
Modern rockers Those People level up with the focused and energized Human Robot set, led by the powerful vocals of Assad Kharfe – another XPN intern alum.
Swaggery retro-rockers RFA deliver catchy songs about young love, young lust and staying out late partying on Something New from RFA.
Heady indie rock gentlemen Roof Doctor blend their love of Pinback with their love of Phish on the new My Band EP – smart, sharp, catchy, weird.
Party-rocking brass band Darla delivered the instantly digable live set Darla Comes Alive! Vol. 2, featuring a version of “Dallas Morning News” from their Key Studio Session.
I guess this makes Abi Reimold the only artist to make this list twice (here as a drummer), but her punk trio (along with guitarist Ashley Tryba and bassist Sarah Myers) Fake Boyfriend released a solid EP called Mercy back in February. It’s a fuzzed-out and fun trip into bumtown through the eyes of three awesome ladies.
Founded in France and relocated to Philly to record at Miner Street with Nightlands’ Dave Hartley, The Dove and The Wolf dug the city so much they stuck around for a while. Their I Don’t Know What To Feel is haunting and magnificent.
An alum of The Gathering and collaborator of Truck North, local rapper Ai-Que the M.C. got back in the game this spring with the Hai Ai-Que! EP.