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Bless your day with this performance of “It Ain’t Fair” by The Roots, Bilal and a freaking orchestra

Black Thought at The Roots Picnic | Photo by John Vettese for WXPN

Jimmy Fallon is lucky to have The Roots as his house band for The Tonight Show. Pretty much every night he gets to hear the Philly legends, and for Monday’s episode, though, it was a little more amazing than usual.

The Roots had the musical performance to play out the night’s show. Their longtime collab partner and soulful wizard Bilal joined them with vocals of his own, as well as a sizeable orchestra, for a rendition of “It Ain’t Fair,” a song from the soundtrack of the new movie Detroit. I already wanted to see the movie. Now I absolutely have to. Continue reading →

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Bilal strikes a synth-soul pose with new video for “Pleasure Toy”

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Bilal | Photo by Kawai Matthews

Philadelphia native Bilal is back with a video for “Pleasure Toy,” a track taken from last year’s In Another Life LP that teams up the soul singer with rapper Big K.R.I.T. The clip follows up a trio of songs Bilal recorded with Common for the latter’s upcoming album that tackled mass incarceration, the existence of God, and the Civil Rights movement.

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Andra Day at Union Transfer, Bilal at World Cafe Live downstairs, Bonfire Falls at World Cafe Live upstairs

Andra Day @ Ardmore Music Hall, 3.24.16
Andra Day | Photo by Wendy McCardle for WXPN | wendymccardle.com

Dynamic San Diego singer and songwriter Andra Day headlines Union Transfer tonight. Last time she was in the Philly area, playing a packed house at Ardmore Music Hall in support of last year’s Cheers to the Fall, the show was beyond impressive. Tickets and more information on tonight’s gig can be found at the XPN Concert Calendar; watch the video for “Rise Up” below.
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Dream team Common and Bilal continue to impress with “Joy and Peace” and “Home”

Common (left) and Bilal (right) performing "Letters to the Free" at The White House | via NPR's YouTube page
Common (left) and Bilal (right) performing “Letters to the Free” at The White House | via NPR’s YouTube page

Just a few days after premiering the politically-charged “Letter to the Free”, Common has share not one, but two new collaborations with Philly soul singer Bilal. All three songs come off of Common’s hotly anticipated new album Black America Again and see the dynamic duo continue their winning streak. Continue reading →

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Common and Bilal tackle mass incarceration on “Letter To The Free”

Common (left) and Bilal (right) performing "Letters to the Free" at The White House | via NPR's YouTube page
Common (left) and Bilal (right) performing “Letters to the Free” at The White House | via NPR’s YouTube page

After first performing the song during his Tiny Desk Concert at The White House, Common has officially premiered “Letters To The Free”, a track that features Philly’s own Bilal on the hook. The song frames mass incarceration as a new form of slavery and features an understated, jazzy rap style. Continue reading →

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Bilal and Derrick Hodge repped Philly at Common’s incredible White House Tiny Desk Concert

Bilal, Common and Robert Glasper perform in the White House for NPR Music | photo by Becky Harlan | via facebook.com/nprmusic

With President Barack Obama’s South by South Lawn concert going down this week, the folks at NPR Music took a unique angle into their Tiny Desk Concert series. They actually staged and shot a session inside the confines of the White House.

The video, out yesterday, features socially-minded rapper Common, who had a remarkable band backing him up. In addition to acclaimed keyboard player Robert Glasper, trumpet player Keyon Harrold, flautist Elena Pinderhughes and drummer Karriem Riggins, there were two Philadelphia natives in the mix: Derrick Hodge on bass (who just released his great new record The Second) and Bilal Oliver, who Common introduces as “an incredible vocalist, artist, writer, voice and spirit.” Continue reading →

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Bilal at Johnny Brenda’s, Lushlife at Boot and Saddle, Lotus at The Mann Center and more

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Bilal | Photo by Kawai Matthews

Soul / funk / rock artist and Philadelphia native Bilal headlines a show at Johnny Brenda’s in Fishtown tonight. In the past, he has worked with big names like Dr. Dre, Kendrick Lamar, and Kimbra just to name a few. His last solo release was In Another Life, released last year. Opening up for Bilal will be the fellow Philadelphian Ursula Rucker. She is a poet, activist, and recording artist who has been performing for over seventeen years. This show featuring some of Philly’s finest is not to be missed. Tickets and more information about the show can be found at the XPN Concert Calendar. Check out the video for “Money Over Love” below. Continue reading →

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Robert Glasper and Bilal reimagine Miles Davis on “Ghetto Walkin” for Everything’s Beautiful LP

Robert Glasper
Robert Glasper | Photo courtesy of the artist

Jazz/hip-hop/experimental music genius Robert Glasper has been prepping his new album Everything’s Beautiful, which combines new original recordings with various samples and inspiration from the extensive and provocative career of jazz great Miles Davis. This week, Glasper shared the video for the single “Ghetto Walkin” which features Philly native Bilal on vocals. Continue reading →

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Try to disconnect with Bilal in the “I Really Don’t Care” video

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Bilal | Photo by Rachel Del Sordo for WXPN | racheldelsordophotography.com

If you’re like me, one of the first things you do in the morning is grab your phone, scroll through your mail and social media and texts, and see what you missed while you were sleeping. Oftentimes this ritual is done while still in the clothes you slept in; often times, it’s done while you’re still in bed. This behavior is not unique; in this ultra-connected point in history, everybody does it to some degree, as eclectic songwriter Bilal illustrates in his new music video for “I Really Don’t Care.” Continue reading →

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Download The Key Studio Sessions Volume 14 (featuring Alex G, Bilal, Screaming Females and more)

The Key Studio Sessions Vol. 14 | Cover photo by Rachel Del Sordo
The Key Studio Sessions Vol. 14 | Cover photo by Rachel Del Sordo

I almost always talk about our comps of tracks recorded for The Key Studio Sessions as snapshots, and this current installment definitely feels like it captures the essence of summer 2015 – fun and lively, varied, expansive, explosive. Being a music enthusiast and living in Philly totally ruled this summer, and I feel like that’s part of the reason I went with an image of DJ Sonny James flipping the faders during The Bul Bey‘s remarkable Key Session in choosing the cover art of The Key Studio Sessions Volume 13. Yes, sticklers, there could stand to be a lot more DJ-based music on this installment, and as I’m always looking to improve on our curation, I’ll keep that in mind for the fall and beyond. But like Bey’s party-centric sensibilities go hand-in-hand-in-hand with a thoughtful worldview and tireless grind (he played our Key Fest, our Waterfront Sessions, threw down regularly at The Fire and Ortlieb’s, and hosted his monthly Friends and Fam party with the Illvibe crew at Kung Fu Necktie), this comp collects artists who work hard, play hard and put a lot of thought into their space in the scene and the universe.

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