The blue collar energy that Philadelphia provides builds character for its local artists. It takes a certain type of talent and dedication to win the attention and the heart of Broad Street but once it’s captured, it strengthens your confidence to shine outside of your of city.
That’s something DJ Lean Wit It has learned throughout his years behind the turntables. Whether was on Temple University’s campus, a Heineken Green Room event or even a local bar, the North Philly DJ has spent years perfecting his craft to capture the attention of not only his hometown, but in other cities and countries as well. And as DJ Lean Wit It prepares for a really huge set for the upcoming No Place Like Home event at The Fillmore on Saturday, August 18th — not to mention his warm-up gig at Spruce Street Harbor Park this Thursday — I was able to sit with him to talk about his early stages as a DJ and how a Philadelphia crowd separates itself from any other crowd in the world. Continue reading →
It’s always good for a DJ to be versatile so that he or she can please any crowd that’s put in front of them. Plus it makes their mixes more interesting because the crowd will never know where the DJ is going with the music. Maybe that’s why DJ Lean Wit It has made a name for himself in his hometown of Philadelphia.
DJ Lean Wit It’s skills have not only made him quite popular in the tri-state area, but they’ve also led him to become the official touring DJ for Selina Carrera and Motown’s MPrynt, and a resident DJ for RedBull’s Play and Destroy Competition, Heineken Green Room and Thursdays at Pub Webb. Continue reading →
Earlier this summer, while attending the REVOLT Summit New York, I got a chance to watch media personality Charlamagne Tha God interview District 18 CEO Brooklyn Johnny. During the interview, they said that people will respect an artist’s hustle even if they don’t respect their music…and I agree. Music is subjective, but there’s something about being able to witness hard work and dedication pay off for an artist.
There are many people in the city of a Philadelphia, myself included, who have been fortunate of enough to watch the growth of DJ Hvnlee, who continues to gain the respect and attention from her city. Since her early days spinning at Maxi’s bar on Temple University campus, the North Philly native has made a name for herself on the turntables and her music selection DJ’ing at different venues across the city like The Saint, Dolphin Tavern, the TLA and many more. The genuine love she has received from her city has kept Hvnlee going hard over the past six years.
As she prepares to rock out at another Philly hometown hero Dayne Jordan’s annual No Place Like Home concert, I was able to sit down with her to talk about her journey, the struggles of a woman in the male-dominated DJ industry, and how that caused her to create her own event, Honey. Continue reading →
Growing up in a musical family where his mother was a church choir director and his father a DJ for over 40 years, North Philly native Robert Taylor Jr. — better known as DJ Sega — has traveled the world rocking clubs and festivals with his unique set of virtuosic turntable skills. Before he gained renown as a DJ / producer himself, Taylor would find himself accompanying his dad to gigs like his regular slot at The Baby Grand Lounge in the city’s Nicetown section.
At the same time, Taylor discovered the sound of a revolutionary new sub-genre of dance music that was emerging about 100 miles south from the city of Baltimore. This sound, referred to as Baltimore Club, was a inventive take on the House music sound that was born in Chicago in the 80s. By sampling and layering the open drum breaks from Lyn Collins’ James Brown-produced anthem “Think,” and the Salsoul Records disco oddity “Sing Sing” by Gaz, on top of their propulsive new tracks, club DJs and Producers in Baltimore added a new energy and rhythmic complexity to electronic dance music’s steady 4/4 beat. For Taylor, Baltimore’s Club music would have a profound influence on his own life and artistry. Continue reading →
From the reggae sound systems of Jamaica in the 70s, to England’s illegal pirate radio stations of the 1960s and beyond, the history of global DJ culture is impossibly rich and complex. In music circles around the world, Philadelphia is recognized as a breeding ground for some of the world’s best DJs. Having to bridge the gap between technical skill, taste and a deep knowledge of the music one plays, the art of being a (good) DJ in this city no simple task. Club culture in this city is built upon a foundation of decades of history and tradition.
In the wake of the cultural and economic boom of the disco-era (led by Philadelphia International Records), the essence of modern DJing as we know it began to take shape. Spurred on by a few key technical innovations — most notably, the creation of extended, “remixed” versions of popular R&B / soul cuts, the 12” vinyl single, and the practice of creating a seamless flow of music by mixing two records together on two turntables and a mixer — the disco-era initiated a gradual shift of focus away from bands and concerts, toward DJs and clubs, and effectively changed the way we experience music. Continue reading →
Major announcement time, Philadelphia: it’s finally springtime! Go out into that sunshine and enjoy yourself! Don’t give me that look; I know it doesn’t look like it. I know that technically speaking we have two more weeks until the official start of the season. But it doesn’t matter. I am ready for winter to be over and if you are too – not judging! I was grinning ear-to-ear while riding my bike through the snow just a couple days ago – I have a full calendar of things going on.
Get that started tonight with the sweet stylings of Merge Records rock n roll powerhouse Mike Krol (no relation) with TVO and Wildflowers of America at Boot & Saddle. If you haven’t listened to these bands, you owe it to yourself, even if you’re not able to get to the show. I’m bumping the new Mike Krol album while writing this and it’s putting me in the best mood. TVO is great and if you haven’t seen Perry Shall’s Wildflowers of America yet I really don’t know what your problem is.
That band just announced a show in West Philly in April with Big Eyes and Dark Thoughts and at some point in the near future they’ll finally put out their debut album. If it’s even half as fun and catchy as their live set it’s going to blow everyone’s mind. Continue reading →
This August brings us not four but *five* Thursdays, which can only mean one thing — more Waterfront Sessions. The free outdoor concert series at Spruce Street Harbor Park kicked off in June with a different local band and DJ set each week, and continues with four more performances throughout July. Now, August lineup is here, giving us more tunes to look forward to as the summer marches on. Continue reading →
Want an easy and fun way to give back to the community and have a good time? We got you.
The Friends of the Rail Park are hosting a benefit concert to help build the Rail Park, a unique public space made of three miles of unused rail lines in Philly. The event will take place at Voyeur Nightclub this Thursday, March 8th from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. The line up includes some incredible up and coming names like Philly’s Sango and Xavier Omar, as well as Atlanta’s BOSCO, with three dope Philly DJs, DJ Lean Wit It, DJ SYLO, and Hvn Lee. Continue reading →
Every month, noted song expert K. Ross Hoffman presents Now Hear This, a sampling of fresh specimens for your consideration.
We’ve had a pretty good last month or so here in Philadelphia, on a couple of fronts. Musically though, at least in terms of the broadest, pop-cultural arena, things have felt just a tad uninspiring lately. The best-selling album of the year thus far, by a wide margin, is the Greatest Showman soundtrack; an artistic triumph I have no doubt. Camila Cabelo’s full-length bow, despite a couple of serviceable bangers, basically failed to make good on the promise of “Havana,” the year’s first new Hot 100 chart-topper and one of the best we’ve had in a while. The most notable musical performance, the halftime show of that one football game, was a perfectly enjoyable and well-executed medley of five-to-fifteen-year-old hits with no real relevance to anything in particular – I’m not sure whether it’s more dispiriting that Justin “Man of the Woods” Timberlake chose not to even attempt promoting his just-released new album by actually performing something from it, or that this was, on balance, probably the right decision. I mean, no offense JT…
Then there were the Grammys, which despite well-deserved (if largely meaningless) acknowledgments for the likes of LCD Soundsystem, The National, Aimee Mann and our very own War on Drugs, overwhelmingly reaffirmed its own insignificance, diversity issues and fogeydom (I mean, no offense Bruno); adding insult to irrelevance by denying a performance slot to (sole female) album-of-the-year nominee Lorde. That hot pile of nothingness was capped off by the truly vile, toxic comments of Recording Academy president Neil Portnow, who, in response to questions about the underrepresentation of women among winners and nominees, called for “women who have the creativity in their hearts and souls…to step up, because I think they would be welcome.”
Of course, it goes without saying that, beyond the psychotically warped bubble that is mainstream culture and the self-congratulatory machinations of the “music industry,” music itself continues on and, as always, the past month offered plenty of tunes worth digging into. You’ll find a smattering below, from indie-pop earworms to exuberant dance jams, including a handful of artists experimenting in various, intriguing ways, with strains of world music. And – I swear I didn’t plan this – it just so happens that all but one of the selections below were made, either by solely or in part, by female artists. Step on up! Continue reading →
Philly vocalist Aleana has just released her EP Chapter 22. The EP chronicles the beginning and the end of a romantic relationship, as Aleana sings through emotions from sprung to completely over it. I immediately noticed her vocals, which have a clean and real quality to them. She’s not too flashy a singer, and her voice isn’t buried in effects and plugins, which makes the music more relatable.
Some standout tracks from the EP are “Divine Creatures,” “Dear Darla,” and “Careless.” “Divine Creatures” probably has the best vocal performance on the whole project; the emotion of the song is clear and evident in the vocals as well as the lyrics. The fade out at the end of the song is an interesting choice as it emphasizes the romance of the song by implying that she could go on and on forever about how great love is. Continue reading →