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Everything Matters: Watch Khemist construct “Know Why I F**K With You?” in the latest #KhemtrailsTV teaser

Khemist | still from video

Philly rapper Khemist has been teasing his debut album Khemtrails for the better part of the past year. He has been keeping fans busy on his YouTube with his #KhemtrailsTV series, documenting its creation. In Episode 3, Khem shows us the creation of “Know Why I F**K With You?,” spotlighting drum, guitar, and vocal recording, on top of Khem messing around recording various textures including bottle sipping, crinkling, and cap twisting. Continue reading →

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Philly rapper Khemist and drummer Anwar Marshall come together in acoustic performance on “It Don’t Get No Easier”

Khemist | still from video

Logan Valley rapper Khemist teamed up with fellow Philadelphian and jazz-schooled drummer Anwar Marshall for an impressive performance of “It Don’t Get No Easier,” another new track off Khemist’s forthcoming Khemtrails EP. The two fuse together strongly as Marshall’s complex rhythms match nicely to Khem’s intricate lyrical flow. Continue reading →

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Khemist speaks up for struggling musicians with new single “I Been On A Budget”

Khemist | photo by Brian Freeman | courtesy of the artist

Many rappers today want to tell you about their wealth — the designer clothes, the luxury cars, the endless fountains of champagne. Not Khemist. This Philadelphia-based rapper and poet just released a new single called “I Been On a Budget” that exposes the difficult life of the starving artist. The song’s composition calls back to jazz rap of the early 1990s as defined by groups such as A Tribe Called Quest and Digable Planets. A combination of bass, drums, and horns underscore Khemist’s verses and emphasizes that, while a musician’s struggle to make ends meet is not new, it still matters. Continue reading →

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ILL DOOTS teams up with Khemist and Zeek Burse to reflect on objectification and othering in the new “Free” video

ILL DOOTS | photo by Rachel Del Sordo for WXPN | racheldelsordophotography.com
ILL DOOTS | photo by Rachel Del Sordo for WXPN | racheldelsordophotography.com

Philly hip-hop collective ILL DOOTS released their self-titled LP last summer, and now they’re back with a video for “Free,” the album’s closing track. Local artists Zeek Burse and Khemist, who both contributed vocals on the track, join the ILL DOOTS crew for the video as well.

As bright and catchy as the song itself, the colorful video pairs the upbeat tone of “Free” with its more serious message — according to a statement from the band, “‘Free’ is a commentary on the commodification of black bodies, fetishization of poverty, gentrification, and being a person of color in a white world.” Continue reading →

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Watch Philly MC Khemist’s powerful video “The Rain”

via okayplayer.com/news/khemist-the-rain-official-video.html
via okayplayer.com
Philly MC Khemist is known for his riveting lyrics. A spoken word artist and musician, he began performing at age 14; he’s currently a student at Temple University. His music blends hip-hop and soulful beats, primarily focused on describing life of growing up in North Philly.

This week, he released a beautiful video for “The Rain.” It begins with a great verse rapped from the perspective of a poor, down on his luck man. From there, Khemist chronicles the effects of cocaine addiction as the man wanders from bars to shady street corners. Ultimately, it ends with Khemist visiting the grave of the man. Watch “The Rain” below.

The video is a part of the Khemist’s latest project Lornda & Poems, an album dedicated to the passing of his his grandmother, Lornda Pack. Other songs from the album are similarly hard-hitting, especially the somber, personal track, “They Shooting,” which relieves the daily struggles in the street.

Previously, the artist released Khemist x Aktive with DJ Active and DTWR Mixtape with Black Thought (of the Roots); both of these can be downloaded via Bandcamp.

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Ill Doots’ frontman Phantom is now named US, and that’s the title of his new mixtape too

ILL DOOTS | photo by Rachel Del Sordo for WXPN | racheldelsordophotography.com
ILL DOOTS | photo by Rachel Del Sordo for WXPN | racheldelsordophotography.com

Long-time Philly based artist collective Ill Doots have been making music as a collective for a decade, dropping numerous projects and performing all around the area. The group is back with Us, an eponymous project spearheaded by frontman MC Anthony Martinez-Briggs, FKA Phantom. Featuring production from Ill Doots as a group, Anwar Marshall, andSimon Martinez of Flanafi and Killiam Shakespeare, Us is a beautifully executed selection of boom-bap flavored hip-hop tracks. Continue reading →

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The Week Ahead: Peter Bjorn & John, Girlpool, Center City Jazz Fest, Joan Osborne, and more

Jeff Bradshaw performs at Center City Jazz Fest 2018 | photo by John Vettese for WXPN

The annual Center City Jazz Fest is always one of our favorite days of the year, and if that’s all Philly had going on this week, we’d still be over the moon excited. But there are, as always, a variety of options, from heartfelt singer-songwriters to the Detroit band that arguably invented punk in the U.S. Here are 15 concerts to see in the next seven days all around Philadelphia.
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20 Years of Grandiose Hip-Hop: How Things Fall Apart taught The Roots to balance art, commerce, and deeply personal perspectives

The Roots, circa 1999

“We had given most of our adult lives to that point to the band. What if success never came to us, or never came in the form we expected? – Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson

As a teenager growing up in Philadelphia in the mid-to-late 90s, radio was a really big deal. Guided by that old algorithm of the human spirit, a handful of radio shows and the DJs and personalities that captained them fed and diversified my ever-growing musical appetite, from J. Michael Harrison’s electric Jazz fusions on Temple’s The Bridge, to the quirky Indie Rock of the Sarah and Laurie Show from Princeton’s WPRB. I’d bounce off my bedroom walls to sounds of mainstream Alternative Rock on Y-100 and fall asleep to the ambient soundscapes of John Diliberto’s Echoes and Chuck Van Zyl’s Star’s End on WXPN.

Like many kids, I’d often call into radio stations and request whatever songs I wanted to hear. Unlike most kids, the budding archivist in me would compel me to press record on my combination radio / cassette deck each time one of my request calls made it on air or my name was shouted out by a show’s host. By the time I graduated high school and I had filled up a tape of my radio mentions and shout outs.

One night, a new song by Philadelphia’s own The Roots had come across the airwaves and floored me. Slick and modern, the song fused lovelorn verses from Black Thought and a pre-fame / pre-Ruff Ryders Eve with a killer hook sung by Erykah Badu (and written by Jill Scott). Two bars into the song’s final chorus, the plodding, straight-forward drum beat that Questlove had held lockstep for the entire song transformed into something altogether different. Continue reading →