XPN Fest Recap: Hardwork Movement is all positive energy and community on the Marina Stage

Hardwork Movement | photo by Jeremy Zimmerman for WXPN

Hardwork Movement is a hip-hop ensemble rooted in community and positivity, and they definitely showed up with the good vibes flowing for their performance on the last day of this year’s XPN Fest. As the performance began, those in the audience not familiar with the group would be excused for thinking it was one-man show with a backing band. That is, until a second emcee joined in. Then another…then another. By the end of the first song the whole of Hardwork Movement had joined on the stage nine performers strong. Continue reading →


Tonight’s Concert Picks: Jill Scott at Sands Bethlehem, Hardwork Movement at Spruce Street Harbor Park, Rosali and the Middlemen at Johnny Brenda’s and more

Jill Scott | Photo by Noah Silvestry |

Philly soul queen Jill Scott brings her 2017 summer tour to the Sands Bethlehem arena tonight. After building her name in Philly’s Black Lily open mic scene in the late 90s — and writing the hook for The Roots’ immortal “You Got Me,” and touring with them in the late 90s — Scott stepped to center stage with 2000 with Who Is Jill Scott?: Words and Sounds Volume 1. The record was universally acclaimed, and holds up to this day; I had it in heavy rotation earlier this week, just because, and it’s amazing the amount of new sound and nuance you discover with each revisit. Scott has had a successful run in the decade and a half since, building her profile from local star to global star, and her fifth album, 2015’s Woman, found her as knockout as ever with the hooks, vocals and introspective words. Tickets and information on tonight’s concert can be found at the XPN Concert Calendar. Revisit “The Way” below. Continue reading →


Firefly on the Fly, Day Four: The Shins, Phantogram, Muse, Hamilton Leithauser, Hardwork Movement, Busta Rhymes and more

The Shins at Firefly 2016 | photo by John Vettese for WXPN

Our ears are still ringing from this weekend’s tremendously fun excursion at Firefly 2017. A review is coming later this week, but for today, we bring you photos from our final day in the Woodlands of Dover, Delaware…from Busta Rhymes kicking off the day to Philly faves Hardwork Movement in the campground, Hamilton Leithauser soldiering through string breakage on the main stage and Bishop Briggs playing a dynamic set on the festival’s Treehouse stage, dueling stints from top-form indie rockers The Shins and the always-compelling electro rock royalty Phantogram, and an over-the-top energized closing set from Muse. Continue reading →


PHOTOS: Hardwork Movement, Aphra, ILL Doots and Maitland threw down at NPR’s Tiny Desk Philly concert

Hardwork Movement | photo by Rachel Del Sordo for WXPN | <a href="" target="_blank"></a>
Hardwork Movement | photo by Rachel Del Sordo for WXPN |

To kick off the month of May, the folks at NPR Music brought their #TinyDeskContest tour to Philadelphia for a terrific night of music for a sold out crowd at World Cafe Live upstairs featuring some of our favorite artists from the city: high-energy hip-hop bands Hardwork Movement and ILL DOOTS, ethereal electronic singer and songwriter Aphra and expressive rockers Maitland. Check out scenes from the night below, care of our photographer Rachel Del Sordo.
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Just Announced: Offa Rex (The Decemberists + Olivia Chaney), Pinegrove, The Dove & The Wolf, Hardwork Movement and more added to XPoNential Music Festival 2017

Offa Rex | photo courtesy of the artist
Offa Rex | photo by Shervin Lainez | courtesy of the artist

The lineup of the 2017 XPoNential Music Festival keeps growing, with today’s addition of Offa Rex — a new collaboration between indie rock troubadours The Decemberists and singer-songwriter Olivia Chaney — to WXPN’s July gathering on the Camden waterfront. The band, which releases its debut album The Queen of Hearts July 7th on Nonesuch Records, blends traditional English-Irish-Scotch songwriting with folk rock and psychedelia. Listen to their interview with NPR Music’s Bob Boilen below. Continue reading →


The High Key Portrait Series: Hardwork Movement

Hardwork Movement | photo by Josh Pelta-Heller for WXPN

High Key” is a series of profiles conceived with the intent to tell the story of Philly’s diverse musical legacy by spotlighting individual artists in portrait photography, as well as with an interview focusing on the artist’s experience living, creating, and performing in this city. “High Key” will be featured in biweekly installments, as the series seeks to spotlight artists both individually and within the context of his or her respective group or artistic collective.

Philly’s newest live-hip-hop collective is working this Spring on perhaps their most ambitious project to date. Historically, where Hardwork Movement’s live shows boast a full band with woodwinds and brass, their albums feature produced beats. But as MC Sterling Duns explains, for the first time, the crew has recently brought their whole band into the studio, determined to document the energy and sound of their shows with their first live recording. As Duns puts it, they wanted to “capture that, bottle that up, so people can take that home with them.”

Packaging the magic of being there into any medium can be challenging, especially when it comes to a crew like this one. The biggest thing about Duns, Jeremy Keys, RB Ricks and Rick Banks — the thing that comes across so immediately and infectiously in person (and, it’s pertinent to note here, what any written interview might also stand to lose, in translation) is their chemistry, the personality of each of the four of them as individuals that informs the rapport and the charm of the group as a whole as well. These longtime friends share history, and the love for music and for their hometown that serves organically to shape their shows, their compositions, their productions and performances, all styled with a wide and eclectic range of artistic influences.

They’ll play World Cafe Live Tuesday night for NPR Music’s sold-out Tiny Desk Philly concert. Later in the month, they’ll return to one of their favorite venues, Johnny Brenda’s, and for the first time will be featured at Firefly Festival in Dover this Summer, among other appearances this year. And in the meantime, they’re working toward a new album, and toward their commitments to supporting and mentoring the students of Play On Philly’s youth orchestra program too. Continue reading →


ILL DOOTS, Hardwork Movement and more will play NPR Music’s Tiny Desk Philly 2017 concert


After a lively third year of over 6000 entries and a knockout winning video from New Orleans outfit Tank & The Bangas, NPR Music is once again taking its Tiny Desk Contest on the road, and it swings through Philadelphia on May 2 at World Cafe Live.

The all-Philly lineup will feature two hip-hop bands near and dear to The Key’s hearts. ILL DOOTS, a South Philly collective that just recorded a Key Studio Session last month, will perform after delivering an impressive Tiny Desk submission featuring their stirring and socially conscious anthem “Black Matter.” Hardwork Movement, a band we’ve loved since hearing their first single “Shine” a year and a half ago, is also on the bill on the strength of their breathtaking new “Becca’s Jam,” making its debut in their Tiny Desk submission. Two more artists will be announced closer to the event; stay tuned for more on that. Continue reading →


Hardwork Movement gets reflective on “Some Winter”

Hardwork Movement
Hardwork Movement | photo by John Vettese for WXPN

A day where the Philadelphia region is (mostly) at home and looking out our windows, watching over a foot of snow pile up, is a good day for reflection. Philly hip-hop collective Hardwork Movement does just that, sans actual snow, in its latest video for “Some Winter,” a track from its recent Draft Night EP.

The band is sitting on a bench in West Philly’s Clark Park, reminiscing about the last time they played Johnny Brenda’s — presumably getting psyched for their next gig there: next Thursday, Marcy 23rd with KOI Child — when they spot MC Sterling Duns’ ex across the way, on a date with someone new. Continue reading →


Watch Hardwork Movement groove in reverse all around Philly for the “On the Rise” video

Hardwork Movement | photo via

Philly hip-hop sensations Hardwork Movement are wasting no time getting 2017 off to a productive start. After packing the house at Johnny Brenda’s and then laying low for the holidays, the nine-piece emerged this week to debut a new music video for their recent single “On The Rise.” Shot in and around Philadelphia this autumn, it shows the core four-piece of Sterling Duns, Jeremy Keys, R.B. Ricks and Rick Banks grooving at recognizable locales from North Broad to the art museum, and everything looks all well-and normal until a jacket flies in from the wings and lands itself on Duns, or a sheet of paper uncrumples as Ricks and Keys pass it back and forth.

Inspired by The Pharcyde’s “Drop” video from the 90s, HWM shot the action in reverse and played it back to trippy effect. Continue reading →