By

Tonight’s Concert Picks: Son Little at Dilworth Park, War on Women at First Unitarian Church, Sugar Tongue Slim at PhilaMOCA and more

Son Little | Photo by Kelsey Stanger
Son Little | Photo by Kelsey Stanger

Philly newcomers Son Little have a fantastic debut EP called Things I Forgot coming out on Anti- Records next month, and they headline a free outdoor show this evening at Dilworth Park at City Hall. Founded by Aaron Livingston, a local singer-songwriter-guitarist who has worked with The Roots and collaborated with RJD2 on the Icebird project, Son Little pushes his creative boundaries even further, dabbling in soul, hard rock, and Radiohead-esque minimal electronica. The band recorded a knockout Key Studio Session this week; download the song “Joy” below and get more information on the show here. Continue reading →

By

The Week’s Best Free MP3s, incl. The Hold Steady, Cookie Rabinowitz, Sugar Tongue Slim

The Hold Steady
The Hold Steady | Photo by Kelsey Stange for WXPN

XPN members at the Special Producers level got a treat from The Hold Steady recently when they performed and recorded an interview with David Dye live for World Cafe.  You can listen to the full World Cafe appearance here, which includes performances of “Stuck Between Stations,” “Sequestered in Memphis,” and “The Ambassador.”  “I Hope This Whole Thing Doesn’t Frighten You” is available as a free download below. Continue reading →

By

Tonight’s Concert Picks: RJD2 / Sugar Tongue Slim at Underground Arts, Banks at Union Transfer, Dark Blue at Boot and Saddle and (much) more

RJD2 | Photo via Philly.com
RJD2 | Photo via Philly.com

DJ and electronic dance artist RJD2 headlines the Jump Philly-curated Sound Select show tonight at Underground Arts with Sugar Tongue Slim and Marian Hill. After gaining popularity for his song “Ghostwriter” from 2002’s Deadringer, RJD2 has continued to catch people’s attention with his jazzy, throwback mixes. Many might know his song “A Beautiful Mine,” which was featured as the theme song for AMC’s hit show Mad Men. Infused with samples from big band music and jazz standards, his songs takes from the old and mixes it in a fresh, current style. The artist has most recently been working with rappers on his latest album, More Is than Isn’t, including Philly’s Sugar Tongue Slim, who will be sharing the stage tonight. STS has become one of the top hip hop artists in Philadelphia and continues to maintain his presence in the music scene here. For more information on tonight’s show, check out the XPN Concert Calendar and watch RJD2’s music video for “1976” below. Continue reading →

By

The Key Studio Sessions: Sugar Tongue Slim

It’s very fitting that the words “Poet Laureate” are tattooed on Sugar Tongue Slim‘s neck. The charismatic Philly rapper has a way with words, a gift of gab, and it plays tremendously into his music and his persona. Continue reading →

Support for The Key Studio Sessions, from Dogfish Head
By

Listen to Sugar Tongue Slim’s new Khari Mateen-produced single “Hell Wrong” (playing Hard Rock Philly tomorrow)

Sugar Tongue Slim | Photo via facebook.com/SlimIsGold
Sugar Tongue Slim | Photo via facebook.com/SlimIsGold

The rapper formerly known as Sugar Tongue Slim is still pretty much known as Sugar Tongue Slim; he’s just going by the punchier S.T.S. these days, which is fine by us. Today the Philly MC rolled out his latest song, “Hell Wrong,” produced by the inimitable Khari Mateen. Like any of Khari’s projects, the beat is crazy futuristic and the instrumental textures and are unique, intriguing and sonically addictive. This give’s Slim’s rhymes a massive amount of lift, as he spouts off about money and material culture – in both a celebratory and satirical manner. “Smellin’ like psuedo wealth, just tryana be who I be / first I need a presidential Rollie and an iced-out Jesus piece.” Take “Hell Wrong” for a spin below, and catch STS live in tomorrow night’s free showcase with Caliph Now and Reef the Lost Cauze at Hard Rock Philly; information can be found here.

By

Inside Fishtown’s Watts Studio with budding production duo DYAD

Khemist and friends in Watts Studio with DYAD | via facebook.com/DYADProduction

dy·ad

ˈdīad/ noun technical

  1. something that consists of two elements or parts.

Seated in the spacious control room of Watts Studios located on the second floor of a unassuming Warehouse Space in near Front & Girard, producer/engineer Micah Forsyth cracks jokes with Anwar Marshall, a fellow producer, arranger and his musical partner in DYAD. Marshall, who also plays in the magnificent Philly Jazz Ensemble Fresh Cut Orchestra, crack jokes and casually discuss the work of Nigerian afro-beat pioneer, Fela Kuti. As a small crew of musicians filter into the space greeting the duo, Forsyth plays a rough demo recorded on Marshall’s phone. The voicemail is a recording of rapper and multi-Instrumentalist Khemist strumming a few chords on acoustic guitar.

Marshall recalls the recording excitedly: “As soon as I heard him playing that, I had to record it!” After laying down a drum track that references the complex, polyrhythmic pulse of legendary Fela drummer Tony Allen, Marshall finds his way over to a small keyboard in the corner of the control room and begins plucking out chords and incomplete riffs. Building on the energy of the track, the crew adds a sleek, live horn section and hip, peacocking bassline. As the tune begins to take on a life of its own, Khemist idles around the room, listening. The tune they are working on is for his upcoming solo project and it is clear that he is gearing up to put his stamp on the track. Forsyth asks “you got something?” Khemist nods and makes his way into the booth. In no time he lays down two verses and a slick, Latin inspired hook for the song. Slowly but surely, what started out as a rough demo is blossoming into an elaborate, fully formed piece of music. In the midst of the jokes and easy-going chats lies a serious sense of traditional musical craftsmanship met with modern creativity to make magic possible, even on a random Thursday afternoon in North Philly.

With a sound that fuses hip-hop and soul with tasteful, jazz-informed arrangements, DYAD bring to mind a modern update of 70s jazz-funk pioneers The Mizell Brothers or Steely Dan if Walter Becker and Donald Fagen had been born in the hip-hop generation. Over the past couple years, the duo has been making serious inroads in the city’s music scene, producing tunes for a host of artists including The Bul Bey, Elle Morris and their standout work on STS’ (aka Sugar Tongue Slim) recent Ladies Night project. Continue reading →

By

From Black Lily to Ladies Night, S.T.S.’ Philly roots run deep

STS | Photo by Josh Pelta Heller for WXPN
STS | Photo by Josh Pelta Heller for WXPN

Whether you’re calling him STS or Sugar Tongue Slim, this rapper been a mainstay in the Philadelphia scene for over a decade — so much so that it can be easy to forget that he was born and bred in Atlanta.  He even names the Philadelphia Eagles as his favorite football team.

When it comes to hip-hop in Philly, you often hear artist tout how the City of Brotherly Love holds them back — that living here is like being a crab in a barrel. Typically our artists can be found taking up new residence in places like LA and New York, and very seldom do you come across an out-of-town rapper that has made Philadelphia his permanent residence with no plans to relocate. STS tells us that it’s all because of a little thing called Black Lily.

If you are 30 or over and know even an ounce about the neo soul scene that was developing in Philly during the late 90’s to early 2000’s, then you know what he’s talking about. Black Lily was a weekly woman-centric open mic that took place at The 5 Spot — and if you were a regular, it was nothing to catch an intimate set from the likes of Jill Scott, Jazmine Sullivan, or The Roots. Black Lily was where STS fell in love with the city.

“That place was magic,” said STS. “The first night I went there, was supposed to be my last night in Philly. I never left.” Continue reading →

By

The Key Studio Sessions: Joie Kathos and Armani White

IMG_8228
Joie Kathos and DJ Bear One | Photo by John Vettese

Like I said the other day: one thing Philly music industry startup RECphilly is amazing at is inspiring artists to collaborate. We saw that happen the first time we worked with them on a live audience Key Studio Session this summer; we saw it happen in a bigger way the second time around, which we present to you today.

Featuring an intimate crowd of about 50 fans and two rising stars of the Philly hip-hop scene, Joie Kathos and Armani White (plus a set from Milton and his band, which we’ll release a little later this fall), it was a hugely positive night of charismatic performance and impressive skill. And that’s before the improv cypher even began. Continue reading →

Support for The Key Studio Sessions, from Dogfish Head