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Made In America Day One: Jamie XX, Jay Electronica, Car Seat Headrest and more

Jay Electronica at Made in America | photo by Cameron Pollack for WXPN
Jay Electronica at Made in America | photo by Cameron Pollack for WXPN

If you love hip-hop, if you love R&B, and if you want to sprinkle some local flair in between, this year’s Made in America festival is for you.

The first day of the two-day extravaganza on the Ben Franklin Parkway was packed with huge names; Rihanna closed off the day with a set that was nothing short of legendary, but amazing sets went down right from the beginning of the day all the way to closing; Symone and C-Kan opened up two of the smaller stages with powerhouse vocals and Spanish flows to rival the American ones of Eminem and Kendrick. Continue reading →

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The Week Ahead: Queen of Jeans, The Diplomats, Drive-By Truckers, Lorde and more

Queen of Jeans | photo by Jessica Lim | courtesy of the artist
Queen of Jeans | photo by Jessica Lim | courtesy of the artist

Your choices are many; your excuses are few. Here are 25 concerts you could see in Philadelphia this week; enough for you to catch one per day, or for the more enterprising of you Key readers, several per day. Starting with folksinger Sam Amidon, and going up to arena pop rocker Lorde, here are our picks for the week ahead. Continue reading →

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The Key’s Year-End Mania: Maureen Walsh’s best music videos of 2016

David Bowie’s Blackstar | still from video

Year-End Mania is the Key’s annual survey of the things below the surface that made 2016 incredible. Today, contributing writer Maureen Walsh recaps five of the year’s best music videos.

While the music video is no longer a requirement in order for audiences to discover an artist’s work, it is still a viable way for them to give us a visual representation of a mood, a way to supplement the song they have created, and also a way to promote their art.

Since not everyone is creating videos, those that do normally do so because they have a great idea for one. 2016 brought us videos that were weighty and visually striking. Water and rebirth were the theme of the vast majority of videos I picked on my list. 2016 was a bummer of a year for many, let’s hope the waters of healing reinvigorate us for 2017. Continue reading →

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How I survived my first Made In America festival

Made in America | photo by Cameron Pollack for WXPN

Earlier this month, the 2016 Made in America Festival took to the Benjamin Franklin Parkway in Philly for two days; you can see our full photo coverage here and here. Today, our Lissa Alicia comes to us with her full experiential account of the Philly megafestival; highs and lows alike.

This year’s Made In America fest was my very first one, and I was not at all prepared for what was in store for me that weekend. By no means was this my first rodeo (festival). Earlier this year I attended The Roots Picnic. In the past I have hit up both Governors Ball, Mad Decent Block Party, and Afropunk Festivals. Attending those festivals were for pleasure. Although I was looking forward to Made In America, I was work minded since I was covering the show. I am only 25, so I figured moderate energy and a banana for breakfast would get me through day one. I mean I did survive moshing and raving at Mad Decent while nursing a legendary hangover and only existing on half a blueberry muffin. I guess I am too old for all that jazz now. Continue reading →

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The Key’s Year-End Mania: Dotun Akintoye’s 50 best songs of 2014

Young Thug appears five times in various forms on Dotun's list | photo via facebook.com/youngthugmusic
Young Thug appears five times in various forms on Dotun’s list | photo via facebook.com/youngthugmusic

Year-End Mania is the Key’s survey of the things below the surface that made 2014 awesome. In this installment, Key contributor Dotun Akintoye shares his 50 best songs of 2014.

There was more pleasurable music than any sane person could consume this year, so when something caught my attention, I made a little note. I’ve narrowed those notes down to these 50 tracks. Some unwittingly fulfill my post hoc arbitrary categories; sharpest top 40 hit (“Girls Chase Boys”) street/cyberspace surprise of the year (“Hot N*gga”), some I regard as the standouts from much heralded albums (“Huey Newton,” “Suffering”), some are standouts from neglected albums (“The Brink,” “Anthem”), others are relatively obscure one-offs (“Timbuktu”), all are songs I thought or argued about, tried to foist on others with varying levels of success, danced to or sang/rapped with, and played repeatedly in a year when that meant missing the latest jam du jour. Continue reading →

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Reacting to a controversial verse by Made In America Festival artist Kendrick Lamar

Kendrick-LamarConsidered one of the most talented arrivals to the rap scene, Kendrick Lamar was applauded for his 2012 debut, good kid, M.A.A.D city. The record was honest and undecorated, served with a sublime poetic lyricism that’s been hard to find in contemporary hip hop. It was personal, and it was unusually beautiful.

But last week, Lamar has been recognized for an entirely different reason: criticism of fellow hip hop artists. The California wordsmith appeared on a Big Sean track titled “Control,” which premiered on Monday and included the talents of in-the-shadows rapper, Jay Electronica.

And it was here that Lamar chose to call out no less than eleven rappers, including Philadelphia’s Meek Mill and Pittsburgh’s Mac Miller – and rather ironically, the very artists with whom Lamar had collaborated on the track, Big Sean and Jay Electronica. Continue reading →