Questlove, King Britt and more reflect on the birth of Back2Basics and neo-soul

Back2Basics reunion band with Questlove | Photo by John Vettese

In an article for Red Bull Music Academy Daily, Laurent Fintoni dug into the history of neo-soul in Philadelphia, a phenomenon that took off when a crew of now-legendary artists and producers (including Questlove, King Britt and Dozia Blakey) made a home at Silk City on Monday nights in the 90s. They called their live set / DJ clubnight experiment Back2Basics and created a breeding ground for R&B, soul and hip hop performers from around the world.

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: King Britt & Dozia’s Back2Basics at Hard Rock Cafe, Mercury Radio Theater at Ortlieb’s, Roof Doctor at Kung Fu Necktie

Photo via
Photo via

King Britt & Dozia’s Back2Basic’s Reunion takes place tonight at Hard Rock Cafe. A revival of the legendary Philly nightclub night, the event hosts both live musicians as well as DJs, allowing for a genre-bending night of frenzy. Started in 1990, the event hosted names like ?uestlove, James Poyser and more. The man behind the project is Britt, who was also a part of the venerable Digable Planets and other projects. In his interview with the Key’s Sameer Rao, Britt explained the motivation behind the reunion as “We thought it would be good to do this as a reunion, but also as a reminder that this [mixing different genres] is possible”. He then went on to emphasize that the event is “not just partying…it’s existential.”  Check out this video of King Britt and The Back 2 Basics Band perform live at Silk City below. Get more details about the show at the XPN Concert Calendar. Continue reading →


King Britt and co. reign supreme at Friday’s Back2Basics reunion

King Britt | photo by John Kaufman | via

Let’s get something out of the way: it’s really easy to make plays on King Britt’s name. The king is back! Long live the king! Even the title of this piece was painstakingly chosen after a lot of agony over what would be slightly witty without being superfluously cheesy (you can argue about whether or not this was successful in the comments).

Still, the man whose official documents read “King James Britt” has left a legacy for which such comical proclamations are actually quite accurate. For over two decades, the 40-something DJ and Philly native has commanded a tiny kingdom of rabid followers through a variety of beloved and critically lauded endeavors. For these fans, which endeavor they care about the most says a tremendous amount about who they are. Perhaps they were drawn to Britt’s multi-year tenure with the bi-costal hip-hop institution Digable Planets, where his genre-mixing aesthetic slant sat effortlessly with the Plantes’ Afro-centric, laid-back brand of quiet innovation.

Some might’ve instead been captivated by Britt’s unquenchable experimental and avant garde tendencies, manifest in numerous groundbreaking and headscratchingly trippy side projects;  these projects have propelled him to a very different kind of recognition, garnering him Pew and NEA grants and putting him on stage at places like TEDxPhilly and the Institute of Contemporary Arts. Continue reading →