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Tyler The Creator and Vince Staples go big, introspectively, at the Liacouras Center

Tyler The Creator | photo by Koof Ibi Umoren for WXPN

Vince Staples and Tyler, The Creator are showing serious growth from the now-disbanded Odd Future crew. With more attention spent on interactive stage settings at the Liacouras Center last week, each artist was able to deliver a more introspective set then we’ve seen from them in the past. Continue reading →

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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 →

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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.

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Watch two stylish videos from Kali Uchis’ new album Isolation, see her at the TLA in October

kali uchis
Kali Uchis | photo courtesy of the artist

R&B songstress Kali Uchis has grown steadily more visible over the last few years with features on recent albums by Gorillaz and Tyler the Creator. Now she’s backing up this year’s sultry, enchanting debut album Isolation with a major tour set to grace Philly’s Theater of the Living Arts on 10/15.

Isolation is available now on all major streaming services and features collaborations from Tyler the Creator, Steve Lacy, Bootsy Collins, and more. Check out the stylish music videos for “One Girl” and “After the Storm” below along with full tour dates. Continue reading →

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Now Hear This: New songs from Kylie, Kali and Koze; PC, PCM and SMD; Daphne, Damien, Daniel and the Decemberists

Kylie Minogue | photo via facebook.com/kylieminogue

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

This year was already off to a pretty good start, musically speaking, but at some point around the beginning of last month things really started popping off. By which I mean we started getting a steady stream of bright, shiny, undeniable capital-P Pop music, the kind of stuff that’s going to become truly indispensable / inescapable come summertime – which, for all intents and purposes is basically already here – and which will likely wind up defining 2018 in our memories forevermore. And I’m digging it! First off, we got Cardi B’s debut album, Invasion of Privacy, which was not just a major cultural event but also way more fun than I would’ve expected, and has been rightly celebrated as such across the board. (Truly, if you haven’t at least heard the made-for-the-summer Latin-pop sizzler “I Like It,” featuring Bad Bunny & J. Balvin, do yourself the favor – also, she’s coming to town in September with Bruno Mars.) Then there was Drake, of course, replacing himself at the top of the charts with “Nice For What” and having more fun than he’s had in ages (maybe ever?), even if at least half of the song’s appeal is down to that Lauryn Hill sample. (He’s also got an album on the way, and a just-announced September Philly date with Migos.) 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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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 →