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All My Friends Are Onstage: Lil Uzi Vert’s hip-hop hit parade brings Pharrell, Nicki Minaj and more to the Liacouras Center

Lil Uzi Vert | photo by John Vettese for WXPN

Let’s not sell Lil Uzi Vert short. The Grammy-nominated Philadelphia rapper is a commanding, dynamic performer with incredible charisma, athletic stamina and a daredevil’s drive to completely obliterate the boundary between artist and audience. It was what grabbed us here at The Key when we first encountered him, jumping offstage and climbing on top of food vending trucks at the Roots Picnic, finishing his set perched on high, dancing for an energized audience below.

This was the Lil Uzi that took the stage last night to a sold-out crowd at Temple’s Liacouras Center for his year-end throwdown, A Very Uzi Christmas. The basketball arena was decked out in tune with the rapper’s goth-inspired aesthetic — open caskets on either side of the stage pumping pulsing light and dry ice outward, two LED boards in the shape of inverted crosses — and as Uzi leapt from the upper deck to the front row to the bumping bass of “444+222” from this year’s Luv Is Rage 2, sashaying between pyrotechnic plumes, it was pretty clear: this show could have been Uzi and Uzi alone, and it would have been an incredible night.

But that’s not how it went down. Continue reading →

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Lil Uzi Vert continues his rock star reign with a revamped edition of Luv Is Rage 2 and a Liacouras Center show

Lil Uzi Vert | photo by Cameron Pollack for WXPN
Lil Uzi Vert | photo by Cameron Pollack for WXPN

2017 has been a record-breaking year for North Philly rap star Lil Uzi Vert. Before releasing the full length Luv Is Rage 2, Uzi’s “XO TOUR Llif3” went quadruple-platinum, breaking multiple records for streaming numbers and hard-copy sales. Luv Is Rage 2 also recently went gold after debuting at #1 on the Billboard 100. Uzi is now a certified rock star and lives his life to fit the part. And just when we thought he was taking a break from releasing new music, he gifted us four new songs on the deluxe version of Luv Is Rage 2: “Skirr Skir”, “Loaded”, “Diamonds All On My Wrist,” and “20 Min.” Continue reading →

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Watch this Vice profile on Philly rap superstar Lil Uzi Vert

Lil Uzi Vert at Made In America | Photo by Rachel Del Sordo
Lil Uzi Vert at Made In America | Photo by Rachel Del Sordo

Few artists have captured the attention of the Philly hip-hop scene in 2016 quite like Lil Uzi Vert. From a show-stopping set at The Roots Picnic to a massive set at Made in America, with several mixtape drops, the coveted XXL freshman cover and a packed house at The Fillmore in between, he’s definitely the man of the moment.

That Fillmore show is the place where the Vice digital video series Noisey & Friends catches up with Lil Uzi for a short profile. We get to meet a line of fans out front singing the rapper’s praises — the young dude in the Black Flag t-shirt who claims he “was on to Uzi a month before the wave started” is totally a music snob in the making — and we also meet Uzi’s entourage. Continue reading →

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Lil Uzi in Wonderland: Watch the Spike Jonze-directed video for Lil Uzi Vert’s “You Was Right”

Lil Uzi Vert | video still via Noisey

If this is wonderland, that makes Lil Uzi Vert the mad hatter. The latest visual from the Philly hip-hop celebrity sees him holding court at a tripped-out garden party: guests flash unnerving cat eyes, blobs of amorphous goo seep from person to person and a rabbit scampers across the scene, all to the tune of “You Was Right” from this year’s Lil Uzi Versus The World project. The man behind it all, meanwhile, looks like he’s having the time of his life — which is how he tends to look at any given point, anyway. Dude has one of the most infectiously amped personas in hip-hop. Continue reading →

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Watch Lil Uzi Vert climb from the Roots Picnic stage to a rooftop to the XXL Freshmen Cover

Lil Uzi Vert at Roots Picnic 2016 | via Okayplayer

Lil Uzi Vert is a name that’s been on the lips of hip-hop prognosticators for the past year and change. His rabid fans and the hype they create has led to more than a few “next big thing” proclamations, and one look at his performance from Roots Picnic shows you just why. The 21-year-old, who hails from the Francisville section of Philly, was in the midst of his song “WDYW” – a hammering rager with a clubby beat – when he decided to take shit, literally, to the next level.

The account of it by Okayplayer’s Elijah C. Watson is particularly vivid. Continue reading →

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Lil Dicky freestyles with Desiigner and Anderson .Paak in XXL’s Freshman Cypher

XXL Freshmen Cover
XXL Freshmen Cover

For almost a decade now, hip hop mag XXL has been rounding up the best new artists in the game to feature front and center on their annual Freshman cover. Started in 2007, scene staples like Kendrick Lamar (2011), Kid Cudi (2009), Future (2012) and Chance the Rapper (2014) have all graced the cover and gone on to acquire massive followings (and make killer albums, of course).

This year, the cover crew included Cheltenham rapper Lil Dicky – along with another Philly artist, Lil Uzi Vert – and for the mag’s first installment of class-of-2016 cyphers, Lil Dicky shares some screen time with Desiigner and Anderson .Paak. Continue reading →

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The Key’s Year-End Mania: K. Ross Hoffman’s megamix dance party for NYE 2017

Lil Uzi Vert | photo by John Vettese for WXPN

Year-End Mania is the Key’s annual survey of the things below the surface that made 2017 incredible. In this installment, Key contributor K. Ross Hoffman presents a megamix of 2017 highlights for all your New Year’s dance party needs.

Welcome to my year end mania. My most cherished, and certainly most insane annual personal ritual, every December since 2006 (the year of Girl Talk, not so coincidentally) is to construct a monster mash-up DJ mega-mix of music from the year that was. The idea is for it to serve as a dance party for New Year’s Eve. This year, I’m sharing my mix – finally completed, with just hours to spare – with you.

I think this is my longest New Year’s mix ever. It also ended up being the dirtiest mix I’ve ever made – I’m not sure what that says about this year. As Fever Ray observed perceptively in a track that I didn’t end up including, this country made it hard to fuck in 2017 – still, it was a year in which even Taylor Swift was #readyforit. Continue reading →

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The Key’s Year-End Mania: Lissa Alicia’s top five moody jams of 2017

Kelea
Kelela | photo courtesy of the artist

Year-End Mania is the Key’s annual survey of the things below the surface that made 2017 incredible. Today, Key contributing writer Lissa Alicia shares her favorite introspective music of the year.

We all love a feel-good tune, but for me there is nothing better than wallowing in self-doubt and pity while listening to someone who totally gets your soul. Maybe this sentiment stems from my angsty early childhood obsessions with Linkin Park and the entire Fueled By Ramen record label circa 2007. Ten years later, I have been able to resonate with a few deep (debatable) tunes that don’t fall under the pop punk / emo banner. Continue reading →

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Speaking the truth with Philly punk visionaries Soul Glo

Soul Glo | photo by John Vettese for WXPN
Soul Glo | photo by John Vettese for WXPN

For many rockers of color, finding films like AFROPUNK — James Spooner’s groundbreaking documentary about minority involvement in punk and hardcore movements — was and is a critical milestone in their development. As a young black and queer punk rocker immersed in the community, watching this film’s scenes unfold, bearing witness to ideas, perspectives, and experiences expressed in the film that were so wildly different, I realized something: each one of those perspectives, from both the youthful, energetic dayglo punk who “didn’t want to be defined by their race” to the raging political hardcore kid using the genre towards black liberation, at some point I had felt similarly, at least in part, to all of the interviewees. The lived black punk rock experience was given a voice. In that documentary’s wake the legions of weird yet still culturally impactful black music has practically given birth to new ways of discovering music through blogs and social media. This wave has infiltrated community centers and Shriners’ hallls, as well as taken to the stages usually reserved for all white bands.

Philadelphia is a city ripe for a black and brown punk reclaiming. Entire movements have thrived for more than a decade dedicated to promoting art and music by marginalized people. Enter Soul Glo, a band etching dark, interpersonal screeds on ancient parchment cut from the skin of the rotting corpse of hardcore punk. Their music travels pedal-driven through lush, dense shoe-gaze forests, bursting out of the other side screaming. Lead singer Pierce Jordan’s voice is an unmatched wail that snakes through the band’s wiry punk orchestration as a truly exhaustive vessel for his trauma-informed lyrics. While their name — taken from a parody product from the cult 80’s Eddie Murphy comedy Coming To America, said to give black folk luscious, wavy jheri curled hair — may come across as comedic, it’s important to remember that the moniker choice is all a part of the intricate cultural interplay and relevancy that truly revolutionary, unbothered and alternative black acts have traditionally embraced. From Parliament’s colorful renditions of life on the mothership to Odd Future’s notorious hyper-cartoon troll Tyler the Creator’s transformation into a living meme, there’s certainly room for jest in this revolution. The sentiment is most aptly put by an interviewee in the AFROPUNK doc when she casually intones: “I don’t feel less black because I’m less normal”

We sat down with Soul Glo to discuss the contradictions, struggles and even empowerment of speaking the truth of the black lived experience to a punk power structure that often values the social capital of whiteness over others. Continue reading →

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Listen to Meek Mill’s Dreamchasers 4 mixtape

Meek Mill
Meek Mill | Photo by Rachel Del Sordo for WXPN | racheldelsordophotography.com

Okay, back to the music.

Sure, the Meek Mill headlines about beefs and smack talk can be entertaining, but the dude makes records too, and let’s keep that in the forefront. The latest installment in Meek’s ongoing series of Dreamchasers mixtapes showed up on Spotify today, and it’s below for your listening pleasure. Continue reading →