Little Simz teams up with Gorillaz for electric new single “Garage Palace”

Gorillaz | photo by Jeremy Zimmerman for WXPN

Soon after coming off a major North American tour, Gorillaz and Little Simz have blessed us with a new single, the day before they embark on another sold-out tour, this time in Europe. Simz and Gorillaz frontman Damon Albarn have shown that they love working together, and “Garage Palace” is yet another example of their highly beneficial relationship. Continue reading →


Tonight’s Concert Picks: Little Simz at Union Transfer and KT Tunstall at Sellersville Theater

Little Simz | via

Britain’s Little Simz brings her area rap to the states as she takes over Union Transfer for the night. She’s sort of London’s Donald Glover, as her insane flow and hype beats are only a part of the talent of the television actor and artist. The gig is all ages, and more information/tickets can be found through the XPN Concert Calendar. Continue reading →


Little Simz provides the antidote on Stillness in Wonderland’s “Poison Ivy”

Little Simz | via the artist's Facebook page
Little Simz | via the artist’s Facebook page

UK rapper Little Simz may have just wrapped up her first North American tour, but for many of us stateside, she’s a relatively new face. Until today, I was one of those uninitiated, but now that I’ve gotten a taste of what Simz is all about, I’m kicking myself for not catching her when she was here. Her sophomore album Stillness In Wonderland dropped last December, and “Poison Ivy” is one of its many impressive cuts. Stream it below. Continue reading →


Navigating Sound: Kilamanzego on the journey from hardcore punk to experimental beatmaking

Kilamanzego | photo by Manny Arocho | courtesy of the artist
Kilamanzego | photo by Manny Arocho | courtesy of the artist

From the opening notes on “Picking My Kalimba from a Distance” with its bright, high-pitched samples and tribal stutter-step, the listener can tell that they’re not just in the presence of a beat-maker: they’re witnessing magic by Philly’s Kilamanzego.

Imagine a dusty warehouse in West Philadelphia, stocked to the brim with old, rusting pianos, pitbulls with mange and orange bandanas, and a whole lotta white people wearing black clothes and rocking dreadlocks. This was the scene when I first heard Kilamanzego cast auditory spells, lifting the crowd with euphoric organ swells only to pummel them with roaring bass drop after bass drop. That night, Kilamanzego — armed with Ableton Live triggered from a laptop and an infectious energy — wasn’t just playing a beat set; they were opening portals to realms from which I don’t think I’ve ever returned. And yeah, yeah, yeah, I know what you’re saying: that sounds like a lot of music guy talk, and the big lofty words volleyed about to describe what’s being thrown down don’t impress you. The thing is, while that performance might have been a welcome surprise — that so much powerful, trance inducing sound could be conjured by a petit yet tough former hardcore punk, black girl in a west Philly punk rock basement — Kilamanzego’s next performance I witnessed? It was a revelation. There is no doubt that we are dealing with one of Philly’s most creative musical minds.

And for Kila, it’s a long time coming. Kilamanzego has created a tightly wound catalog of entrancing beats, mini-séances that invoke both their time spent toiling in Philly’s underground and their Ghanaian roots. At once tribal and atmospheric, Kilamanzego has etched new sounds on the beat-based landscape. With their series backyardbxss that they curate as part of the smth savant collective, they’ve helped cultivate a movement that bridges scenes and communities in the spirit of Hip Hop. For Kilamanzego though, that spirit doesn’t seem to want to be tamed. With a hypnotic new single called “Stay Floated In The Tribe” out this week and upcoming shows including Get Better Fest at the First Unitarian Church, we sat down with Kila to discuss beats, life, and sonic ritual texture. Continue reading →


The Key’s Year-End Mania: Sarah Hughes’ best album artwork of 2017

St. Vincent’s Masseduction

Year-End Mania is the Key’s annual survey of the things below the surface that made 2017 incredible. Today, Key contributing writer Sarah Hughes reflects on the year’s most eye-catching album covers.

Album art seems to be slowly creeping into the background of the music industry, especially with the digital realm taking over; it’s easy to dismiss an artist’s album cover when it is merely displayed in a small profile icon on an internet page. However, artists still jump at the chance to carry home their musical thoughts with engaging visuals and 2017 definitely did not disappoint. Filled with lush colors, vibrant concepts and eye-popping aesthetics, this year produced some of the finest work yet. After combing through the best of 2017, I’ve selected 5 of my favorite album covers this year. Continue reading →