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Pusha T, 6ix9ine, LilSkies, and Daniel Caesar added to Jay Z’s Made In America lineup

Pusha T
Pusha T | Photo by Matthew Shaver for WXPN | brightloud.com

There has been a great deal of conversation surrounding Jay Z’s Made In America on whether or not the annual music festival would continue to be held on the Ben Franklin Parkway. Luckily the city of Philadelphia decided to keep the festival in place (read about it here), and in further good news, the festival announced a bunch of new artists this week. 

Joining the Labor Day Weekend event are Pusha T, Tekashi 6ix9ine, Lil Skies and Daniel Caesar. They will be performing alongside powerhouse artists such as Nicki Minaj, Post Malone, Meek Mill, Diplo and more. Continue reading →

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Heavyhitters Jay Z and J. Cole join Solange, Sampha, Lizzo and more at Made In America 2017

Photo by John Vettese

Christmas comes only once a year? False. See: Made in America announcement day. Philadelphia’s Labor Day party is back for another round, and with the announcement of this year’s lineup, we imagine the entire city is excited.

Headlining performances from Jay Z (obviously), J.Cole and The Chainsmokers top of the list of 50+ artists, with featured performances from Run The Jewels, Solange, Lizzo, SamphaMigos, and a heck of a lot more. The local scene is also well represented, as PNB RockBeach Slang, Mannequin Pussy and Queen of Jeans nab some earlier spots.

Continue reading →

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Just Announced: Jay Z brings his Magna Carta World Tour to the Wells Fargo Center on 1/29

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After wrapping his second annual Made in America Festival over Labor Day weekend, Jay Z has announced a North American leg of his Magna Carta World Tour that brings him to the Wells Fargo Center on January 29th.

Jay (born Shawn Carter) released his Magna Carta Holy Grail record earlier this summer, timing it pretty well to get hype alongside Kanye West’s rival Yeezus.  If that timing felt like the pair were playing leap frog for attention, how about this: Jay Z’s announcement comes mere minutes after West’s declaration of his own first solo tour in five years.

But whether that’s a calculated tactic to keep pace with West or just a coincidence, a Jay Z solo tour is big news for fans.  Especially for those who were at Carter’s August date with Justin Timberlake; the Legends of the Summer show was a top notch spectacle that was purportedly “the climax of the summer of 2013 in Philly.”  Tickets and information for the 2014 date go on sale September 12th and will be available here.  Watch Jay z’s video for “Holy Grail below.

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The Essential Love Songs of Philadelphia: “Love Train” by The O’Jays

The O’Jays single for Love Train

Every day leading up to Valentine’s Day this year, The Key is recapping 14 songs that scream “love” just as strongly as they scream “Philly.” The Essential Love Songs of Philadelphia continues with “Love Train” from The O’Jays’ 1972 album Back Stabbers.

In some ways, we’ve saved the best for last. The most unifying, the most uplifting, the most iconic.

“Love Train” is also the only Essential Love Song of Philadelphia that was not made by a Philadelphia band. Canton, Ohio pop vocal ensemble The O’Jays spent the 60s kicking around as a five-piece with single releases here and there that occasionally gained some notoriety on the R&B charts (“Lipstick Traces” being the most notable) but never broke through to the top, nor to the overall Billboard Top 40. By 1972, the band was at a crossroads that saw founding members Bill Isles and Bobby Massey part ways with their bandmates Walter Williams, Eric Grant, and Eddie Levert. Ironically, this was where The O’Jays’ fortunes began to change, with the newly-minted trio coming under the wings of Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff. Continue reading →

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Philly soul legends The O’Jays get political on their farewell album and its single “Above The Law”

The O’Jays: Walter Williams, Eric Grant, and Eddie Levert | photo by Shahar Azran | via Pitchfork

Though they’re originally from Canton, Ohio, The O’Jays will be forever associated with Philadelphia, due to their work with producers Gamble & Huff and their mega-hit “Love Train” being a defining song of The Sound of Philadelphia.

It’s been 45 years since that song emerged, though, and it seems that the band’s hope and optimism has hardened a bit. “People all over the world, join hands” might still be a noble ideal, but as The O’Jays admit in their new single, “evil exists as well as good.” To say nothing of forces like power, corruption, intolerance, hate.

The new song is called “Above The Law,” and it’s a deep funk groover with a dose of socially conscious real talk, in the vein of The Temptations’ “Ball of Confusion.” Continue reading →

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Junglepussy, Queen Jo and Rayana Jay play a commanding, empowering set at The Foundry

Junglepussy | photo by Lissa Alicia for WXPN

When one consumes a curated collection of art, regardless of the medium, there is more often than not a blatant artist statement or verbal declaration of intent. On rare occasions, one may come across an assemblage so carefully put together that even the slightest explanation would do it absolutely no justice. This was the case at The Foundry’s Wednesday night show that included Queen Jo, Rayana Jay, and headling act Junglepussy. Three women at the mic, backed by two women at the DJ decks, delivered seemingly endless prideful, raunchy and unapologetic lyrics for an empowering set that commanded the audience to take charge of their sexuality, identities, lives. Continue reading →

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Vijay Iyer delivers a beautiful and bombastic solo set at Annenberg Center

Vijay Iyer | photo by John Vettese for WXPN

If you’ve dedicated any portion of your life to obsessively writing about rock and pop, you’ve probably arrived at an eventual point where rock and pop alone become…boring. Uninspired. You begin to explore other sounds, to expand your proverbial horizons. Sometimes the process can be gradual, and sometimes the gates can blow wide open.

For me, a major entry point not only into jazz, but the possibilities of what music can sound like using jazz as a baseline, was a hand-me-down vinyl copy of Keith Jarrett’s The Köln Concert, a double LP, 66-minute, entirely improvised concert where the famed pianist for Art Blakey and Miles Davis rocked to and fro across 88 keys, punctuating his playing occasionally with moans and cries, finding himself in moments of cathederal-like reverence, and later cascading into dissonant depths.

Watching award-winning jazz band leader, composer, and scholar Vijay Iyer give a rare solo performance at the Annenberg Center’s Harold Prince Theatre on Saturday night, I was very much reminded of Jarrett, and this album in particular. Continue reading →