Tyler the Creator sets the mood at NPR’s first nighttime Tiny Desk Concert

Tyler, the Creator | screenshot from NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert

Hip-hop’s resident bucket-hat strange boy, Tyler, the Creator, stopped by NPR’s offices to perform not only his own Tiny Desk debut, but also to induct the first evening version of the Tiny Desk gig. Distinguishing the switch, instead of the custom clear natural light setting across the afternoon cubicles, vibrant backdrop lighting of deep fuschia, electric blue, and blood red drenched the typical work space, as it transformed into an intimate club atmosphere. Which, according to NPR, was the result of Tyler’s own request and the work of his hired lighting team. Continue reading →


Tyler, The Creator embarks on his first solo tour alongside Kid Cudi (playing Festival Pier 9/26)

 tyler the creator

Tyler, The Creator, one part of the hip-hop collective Odd Future, is about to embark on his first solo tour alongside Kid Cudi.  Both artists released new albums this past April, Cudi with his third LP, Indicud, and Tyler, The Creator with Wolf.  Both albums bring the two rappers back into the game in new ways; this is Kid Cudi’s first rap album since 2010, while Tyler’s effort sees him testing the waters on writing music that wasn’t centered solely around gruesome themes.  The tour stops at Festival Pier on Penn’s Landing at the end of September.  Listen below for a taste of their new LPs.


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 →


From Noname to Pharrell, the 10th Annual Roots Picnic brings a star studded day to Festival Pier

The Roots and Pharrell at The Roots Picnic | Photo by John Vettese for WXPN

This past weekend marked the 10th Anniversary of The Roots Picnic. Over the past decade, Black Thought, Questlove and the rest of the legendary Roots Crew have been curating one of the city’s biggest concerts which, since 2007, has featured acts such as A$AP Rocky, Erykah Badu, Santigold, DMX, and Anderson Paak just to name a few.

This year’s line up brought out Michael Kiwanuka, Thundercat, Kimbra, and PnB Rock for excellent performances with headlining sets from Solange and Pharrell, the latter of whom was backed by The Roots. Earlier in the day, Black Thought collaborated with DJ/producer J Period on a live mixtape, during which he brought out original Roots keyboard player Scott Storch, as well as Queensbridge hip-hop legends Mobb Deep. Rapper Lil Wayne was slated to play the festival but was removed from the lineup due to an undisclosed medical emergency. Despite that being a bit of a damper, an estimated crowd of 10,000 festivalgoers enjoyed the day-long show. Continue reading →


Tonight’s Concert Picks: Earl Sweatshirt at The TLA, The Orange Drop at Bourbon & Branch

Earl Sweatshirt
Earl Sweatshirt | Photo via Billboard

Earl Sweatshirt brings his new record to The TLA tonight. The rapper got an early start in the game at age 15 when Tyler the Creator found him on MySpace and brought him into Odd Future. From there Sweatshirt released a pair of solo records, following up Earl and Doris with this year’s I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside. Check out “Grief” from the new record below and pick up tickets for the show here.

Continue reading →


From Coltrane to Gucci Mane, Toronto’s BADBADNOTGOOD pushes boundaries from jazz to hip-hop and beyond

Badbadnotgood | Photo via Facebook
BADBADNOTGOOD | Photo via Facebook

Standards have always been a way for jazz artists to come together on common ground and find a collective sound. For generations, musicians have joined together in jam sessions and played “Autumn Leaves” or “My Funny Valentine” or “Caravan,” putting their own unique, modern spin on these timeless classics.

Toronto trio BADBADNOTGOOD found their sound with a much more contemporary standard – Gucci Mane’s “Lemonade.” The three members met while students in the jazz program at Toronto’s Humber College, but it was their shared love of hip-hop that brought them together as a group. “Being at jazz school, a lot of people were just into jazz because that’s obviously what they’re studying, but we bonded because we had a lot of other common interests,” says keyboardist Matthew Tavares.

Those interests have now resulted in three albums and a burgeoning career as producers with some of the very hip-hop artists whose work they admired, including collaborations with Odd Future members Earl Sweatshirt, Tyler the Creator, and Frank Ocean. Their latest CD, III (Innovative Leisure), is their first composed wholly of their own original music, foregoing the hip-hop and rock covers that distinguished their previous releases. They’ll perform some of that music – and reprise a few of those trademark covers – at MilkBoy on Saturday night.

So is BBNG a jazz trio with hip-hop leanings? A hip-hop crew with jazz roots? According to bassist Chester Hansen, “It’s a difficult question. I don’t know if we could accurately say that it’s one thing or the other. I think it’s really just a combination of all of our influences; jazz and hip-hop are definitely in there in great amounts, but it’s open to interpretation.”

“I wouldn’t really call it jazz because a lot of the songs don’t some of the elements that people consider to be jazz,” adds Tavares. “Other songs do, but maybe they’re missing other elements. It’s really a big mish-mash of stuff we like to listen to, the music we like to learn and approach and explore and be creative with.”

III definitely showcases the hybrid sound that the band has forged over the last several years. Continue reading →