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The Key Studio Sessions: Career Crooks

I feel like “ravenous” is a solid adjective to use when talking about Philly rapper Zilla Rocca. Ravenous consumer of popular culture. Ravenous collector of hip-hop records and trivia tidbits. Can somebody ravenously rock the mic? I don’t know, but if it’s possible, he can do it.

He’s been kicking around the scene as long as The Key has been around, in various permutations of his Wrecking Crew collective: their hard-boiled 5 O’Clock Shadowboxers, his production and hype man work alongside Curly Castro, and his solo noir-hop outings. His latest is called Career Crooks, and it finds him teaming up with Small Professor for moody throwbacks to the late 80s and early 90s NYC scene; textural ref points include Nas, Mobb Deep, and 36 Chambers-era Wu-Tang (the semi-official Beatles of the Wrecking Crew), while Zilla’s gravelly flow recalls a bit of Action Bronson and Slick Rick.

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Stream Zilla Rocca and Small Professor’s debut Career Crooks album, Good Luck with That

Career Crooks | photo via careercrooks.bandcamp.com

Individually, DJ Zilla Rocca and producer, Small Professor have been crushing it for years. Just imagine the dream of utter jams that a collab could produce. You have that beauty pictured? Okay, great – now throw that imaginary concoction out the window because there actually is a real, live duo debut from Rocca and Professor, and it most likely exceeds even your dreamt up wildest hopes. Continue reading →

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New hip-hop duo Career Crooks’ embrace the creative side of life with “Least Important Most Important”

Career Crooks | via youtube.com
Career Crooks | via youtube.com

Mad Men’s Don Draper once said “We’re going to sit at our desks and keep typing while the walls fall down around us because we’re creative – the least important, most important thing there is.” Philly’s newest hip-hop duo Career Crooks (made of wordsmith Zilla Rocca and resident beat-maker Small Professor) confidently embraces Draper’s words by representing the creative on debut single “Least Important Most Important” off of the duo’s debut album Good Luck With That, out early 2017.

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Zilla Rocca pays tribute to his 90s faves on the new Hard Boiled EP

Zilla Rocca | photo by John Vettese for WXPN

Philly rapper Zilla Rocca released his Hard Boiled EP last week, in advance of his forthcoming solo LP Future Former Rapper. Lead track “Lamont Coleman” is a gritty tribute to 90’s hip hop artist Big L. The song embodies a scorching desert heat, lead by a hypnotizing snake charmer melody on flute, interjected by tambourine and the rattle of a serpent’s tail. The words are precise and at times agressive, intertwining power and praise. Continue reading →

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Listen to a Philly-style Broad Street Run playlist

clockwise from left: Hardwork Movement | photo by Ashley Gellman for WXPN // Marian Hill | photo by Ben Wong for WXPN // The Roots | photo by John Vettese for WXPN // Hop Along | photo by Ashley Gellman for WXPN // King Britt | photo by John Vettese for WXPN // Dr. Dog | photo by Rachel Del Sordo for WXPN

On Sunday May 6th, thousands will gather at Broad and Olney and run 10 miles south to the Naval Yard for the 39th annual Broad Street Run.

Many of us runners have been to this rodeo several times, and while no race is the same, I find I have “beats” I follow during the course. First, Olney to the Temple University (around Broad and Cecil B Moore) is when I get warmed up, get used to the runners around me (and sometimes discover with horror that they are not prepared at all). Next, I move on to the more serious stretch, now that I’ve sprinted past the people who took the “fun” part of this a little too much to heart. This lasts until about Broad and Race. Then it’s bottleneck time around City Hall, where the phones come out for selfies with the skyline and where most family members stand to find their loved ones and shout their names repeatedly. I always use this time to slow down and go with it. Sometimes I’ll even spot a celebrity or two along this stretch.

Next up is the second set of “let’s get serious” running as I make my way through South Philly, read the hilarious signs people have held up for motivation and head towards that last stretch, under the tunnel, and through the Yard.

I know it’s not regulation, but I listen to music while running. Since I’m not an elite runner by any means, I need something to help soundtrack my epic journey through the city. This year, I’ve come up with a playlist that’s about 100 minutes long that encapsulates each part of the Broad Street Run. And, of course, it’s all Philly artists, from Vicki Sue Robinson to The Roots, Hurry to Meek Miil, Japanese Breakfast to Patti LaBelle, The War on Drugs to King Britt. Listen below, and use it for training, for race day, or simply for a good sampling of the sounds of Philly. Continue reading →

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PREMIERE: Zilla Rocca shares new noir-hop single “Lemon Drop”

zilla rocca
Zilla Rocca | photo by Bob Sweeney | courtesy of the artist

Zilla Rocca goes deep in the weeds of noir-hop on his latest track “Lemon Drop,” a standalone single from the local rapper/producer. Zilla’s always been into the darker side of life (see 2014’s No Vacation For Murder and his general pulp fiction-inspired aesthetic), and this track has a pretty solid lineage along those lines.

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