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Made In America day one is a soggy spectacle with J. Cole, Solange, Marian Hill, Migos and more

J. Cole | photo by Ben Wong for WXPN | brotherlylost.com

Okay, yes — it was wet. It was muddy at parts. But though yesterday’s climate conditions during Made In America were less than ideal for a celebratory end-of-summer music festival, as Minneapolis rapper Lizzo pointed out during her early afternoon set, there was no room for us to grumble.

“We have a bit of a rain thing going on,” Lizzo said. “But this doesn’t compare to what’s going on in Houston. I’m from Houston originally, I have friends and family who lost everything.”

She encouraged the crowd to donate to relief efforts, and to do so at at the local level as directly as possible. Then she launched into a knockout performance of “Water Me,” a song she said she felt uncertain about playing in the wake of Harvey — “I’m done with water” — but one her Houston loved ones encouraged her to embrace, saying it uplifts them.

So, let’s not dramatize yesterday’s weather. It was soggy, it was a slog to get from point A to point B (but it usually is during MIA, honestly). But the show went on. 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: The Django Pages – A.D. Amorosi’s greyhound rates the hits, disses the misses of the year gone by

Django Amorosi | photo by Reese Amorosi | 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 contributor A.D. Amorosi turns to his trusty greyhound Django for some musical feedback.

Your best friend does not always like the music that you like. That’s what friends are for. At least this is the case of Django, our greyhound, with whom my wife and I share a loving bond and living/listening space on a daily basis. It’s his house, he just lets us live there.

If I am reviewing a Migos single with Pharrell Williams, he is reviewing it too.  Same with a Johnny Cash box set, a Sheer Mag download, an Archie Shepp YouTube moment, or what-have-you.  If I am laughing at Love & Hip Hop: New York and watching the dilemma between Remy Ma and her husband/manager Papoose, chances are Django is observing this behavior – and my reaction – with his ears pricked high. Does he enjoy everything on Love & Hip Hop? No. Can I tell the difference? Yes. Continue reading →

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Made In America: The Portraits

Marian Hill | photo by Ben Wong for WXPN | brotherlylost.com

When he wasn’t in the photo pit grabbing killer shots of J. Cole, Migos, Tommy Genesis and more, The Key’s photographer Ben Wong spent this Made In America festival backstage, linking up with artists for on-the-fly portrait sessions.

Below, check out an assortment of his shots — including Japanese BreakfastKodie Shane, a very Robert Smith-esque Beach Slang, a look at Queen of Jeans taking shelter from Friday’s rain and Kaskade embracing it, and much more. To dive deeper into Ben’s work, check out his website, BrotherlyLost.com, and give his Instagram a follow.
Continue reading →

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Now Hear This: New songs by Haim, SZA, Kesha, Daphni, Aminé, Julia Michaels and more.

SZA | photo by Cameron Pollack for WXPN
SZA | photo by Cameron Pollack for WXPN

Every month, noted song expert K. Ross Hoffman presents Now Hear This, a sampling of fresh specimens for your consideration.

Ciao!! Now Hear This is coming to you this month one week later than regularly programmed, due to your faithful correspondent’s international travel schedule: I recently spent ten days in Sicily, where I got to experience firsthand the pleasures of a record-setting heatwave fondly dubbed “Lucifer.” Trips abroad always afford an interesting lens on pop music – you never know quite what you’ll get when you flip on a radio. The Italian pop I encountered seemed generally jaunty and decidedly dorky, featuring a surprising amount of accordion. The DJs were effusive and highly entertaining, speaking faster than I could probably follow even if I did know any Italian. I heard “Young Folks” and noname (the latter playing in a shop.) I heard one DJ leapfrog from The Beatles to Run-DMC to Empire of the Sun; rambling excitedly over the introduction to each song. The only current American pop number I heard in multiple places while in Italy was Calvin Harris’ “Feels” (ft. Pharrell, Katy Perry and Big Sean), a supposedly “summery” song that I guess I support more in theory than in practice. Continue reading →

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Andre Altrez dabbles in atmospheric trap on new No Come Down project

Andre Altrez
Andre Altrez | photo by BlackMythPhoto | twitter.com/BlackMythPhoto | courtesy of the artist

After catching our ear with the mellowed-up, jazz-tinged Sprout EP, Philly rapper and producer André Altrez switches up gears for his latest, No Come Down — a gripping set of trap bangers that flaunts and flexes his skill. Altrez co-produced the EP, which is currently streaming on Bandcamp, in collaboration with Scrap, Butch Dawson and Ben Thomas. The tone is highly contemporary (notes of Migos and 21 Savage make their way to the surface) but Altrez takes the set in alluring and atmospheric directions, adding a psychedelic wash to the hazy dreamscape of “Mystic Thots” as well as the unflinching dose of reality that is “Consequences.” Continue reading →

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Meek Mill’s Wins and Losses and the sound of perseverance

Meek Mill’s Wins and Losses | via facebook.com/MeekMill

Nearly two years ago, to the day, Canadian pop-rap Superstar (can you imagine reading that sentence 15 or 20 years ago? LOL) Drake released “Back to Back,” a vicious and oddly anthemic diss track aimed at Philly Rap star Meek Mill. Seven days earlier, Meek had taken to social media to launch a seemingly unprovoked attack against Drake, questioning the pop star’s authenticity: “Stop comparing me to Drake too….he don’t even write his own raps! That’s why he ain’t Tweet my album because we found out!” Whatever latent feelings of hostility may have slept right below the surface of the two stars (and collaborators) relationship had now erupted into open warfare and VERY public rap beef.

Although, he launched the first bomb (an act which seems to have been provoked when Meek learned that Drake had employed a ghostwriter to pen his guest verse on Meek’s song “R.I.C.O.”), Meek was clearly not ready for an all-out battle. On the day that “Back to Back” dropped, Meek was about 9 weeks deep into the North American leg of his then-romantic partner Nicki Minaj’s Pink Print tour. Far removed from the days of Nas and Jay-Z battling it out with diss records released months apart from one another, rap battles today, are settled on the internet and victory usually goes to the combatant who can respond swiftly and control the narrative. Once Drake started releasing songs dissing him, Meek should have quickly responded with an equally vicious attack himself, but he did not. As the days went on and the chatter grew louder, we all witnessed the stock of one of mainstream rap’s brightest stars plummet lower than ENRON. By seriously underestimating his opponent and putting himself at a strategic disadvantage by initiating a war while away on tour, it became clear that Meek was in serious trouble. By the time “Back to Back” had finished reverberating out into riding on a wave of instant quotables and countless fan-generated internet memes, it seemed as though Meek Mill’s rap career was over, dead in the water. His name had become synonymous with failure and he became the closest thing to a laughingstock in mainstream hip-hop since rapping popsters like MC Hammer and Vanilla Ice were exorcised from the culture in the early 90s. Continue reading →

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Jay-Z prepares for Made in America with 4:44, a blueprint for the new generation

Photo by John Vettese

Rappers from Kendrick Lamar2 Chainz, Migos, Future, Drake, Rick Ross, Big Sean, Wale, Gucci ManeBig BoiVince Staples, Joey Bada$$ have all contributed to making the first half of 2017 a great year for hip hop. And a few weeks ago, rap icon Jay-Z added his own huge contribution by releasing his thirteenth studio album 4:44.

By putting introspective, complicated rhymes over captivating instrumentals, it’s no shocker that the album has received general acclaim from critics and has already gone platinum — thanks to the assistance of Tidal and Sprint — just a week after its release. Continue reading →

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Heavyhitters Jay Z and J. Cole join Solange, Sampha, Lizzo and more at Made In America 2017

Photo by John Vettese

Christmas comes only once a year? False. See: Made in America announcement day. Philadelphia’s Labor Day party is back for another round, and with the announcement of this year’s lineup, we imagine the entire city is excited.

Headlining performances from Jay Z (obviously), J.Cole and The Chainsmokers top of the list of 50+ artists, with featured performances from Run The Jewels, Solange, Lizzo, SamphaMigos, and a heck of a lot more. The local scene is also well represented, as PNB RockBeach Slang, Mannequin Pussy and Queen of Jeans nab some earlier spots.

Continue reading →