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Dice Raw heads to Eastern State Penitentiary to discuss Jimmy’s Back on July 1st

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Photo courtesy of the artist

Last year, Philly MC (and Roots crew affiliate) Dice Raw released a masterpiece concept album called Jimmy’s Back, in which Dice raps about the issues involved in the country’s prison system. Taking cues from Dr. Michelle Alexander’s 2010 book The New Jim Crow, the album creatively looks at how prisons disproportionately incarcerate black men and does little to prepare inmates for life in society once they’re released. In honor of this meaningful and culturally significant album, Dice Raw will head to Philly’s Eastern State Penitentiary for a performance, as well as a discussion on the impact the prison system has on the black community and society as a whole. The performance / talk is free and open to the public. Information on the event can be found here.

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Download Dice Raw’s “Runaways” from his (still in-progress) Jimmy’s Back

dicerawThis summer we were drawn in by the thought-provoking songs Roots crew affiliate Dice Raw leaked, all in promotion of Jimmy’s Back, a concept album taking a critical look at the prison system. It was set to drop in August, but when August came, the album never showed up. Today Okayplayer.com reports that it is still a work in progress, but it’s firmly due out on October 15th. Meanwhile, it shared an outtake from the Jimmy’s Back sessions for free download. On “Runaways” Dice pans away from the world of former prisoners finding their legs in society to study a different central character – a woman chasing dreams in Hollywood, but getting caught up in the rat race. It’s got appropriately cinematic strings and some alluring voiceover narrations in the mix; check it out below.

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The Week’s Best Free MP3s, incl. Dice Raw, Ape School, Diego Garcia

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Folkadelphia presented an otherworldly session from Dana Falconberry this week.  The Austin-based musician performed songs from her latest Leelanau LP alongside two tracks .  Stream and download “Crooked River” below and visit the Folkadelphia Bandcamp page here for the full session.

Local rapper Dice Raw is the subject of this week’s Key Studio Session.  The socially conscious artist has a new record called Jimmy’s Back, a project that looks at race and the U.S. prison system in a catchy and narrative style.  Dice Raw’s session pulls songs from the new album as well as two tracks from The Roots’ catalog.  Stream and download “Marching to the Beat of a Drum” below and get the full session here.

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The Key Studio Sessions: Dice Raw

It’s rare that somebody can evenly straddle the worlds of social critic and entertainer, but man, Dice Raw pulls it off. A longtime affiliate of The Roots crew who in recent years struck out on his own with the Philly-centric Raw Life imprint, Dice’s focus these past few months has been the new solo LP Jimmy’s Back. It moves in step with Dr. Michelle Alexander’s 2010 book The New Jim Crow, a study of race and the the U.S. prison system, and Dice not only manages to make the subject matter compelling, but utterly catchy. As we hear in his Key Studio Session – performed with a production hand care of Khari Mateen, who we featured last week – the music can be moving and emotional (“Marching to the Beat of a Drum,” “Over”) as easily as it can have a hooky bounce to it (“Never,” which riffs on tUnE-yArDs’ “Gangsta” to tremendous effect). Meanwhile, Dice the narrator never lets his guard down. He spins stories, creates real-life illustrations of Alexander’s points, and even blurs the lines to the utmost on “Animal.” Is this a silly riff on Sinatra and showtunes? Is Dice playing a character? More like he’s theatrically catching your attention to make a point, and it’s one worth listening too. Bonus: the inclusion of two Roots cuts in his setlist (“Lighthouse” and “Now or Never”) was unexpected and awesome. Listen below, look for the release of Jimmy’s Back in its entirety on August 19th, and catch Dice Raw tonight at the City Hall Presents free concert series.

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Dice Raw at City Hall, Kalob Griffin Band at Penn Museum, Prefuse 73 / Spaceship Aloha at Morgan’s Pier, At Fest at the Troc

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Philly hip hop artist Dice Raw will be performing for free at City Hall tonight as part of the City Hall Presents concert series. His newest album, Jimmy’s Back, is available. The album’s is based on The New Jim Crow, a bestselling book by Michele Alexander. Along with the LP, Dice Raw is releasing a short documentary that explores mass incarceration and the prison system, especially in Philadelphia. The concert will run from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. in the City Hall courtyard. Listen to Dice Raw’s new track, “Animal,” below.

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Watch: Dice Raw looks at the prison system in the Pull of Gravity documentary (album dropping 8/4)

dicerawA close associate of The Roots, hip-hop artist Karl Jenkins (otherwise known as Dice Raw) will drop his newest record, Jimmy’s Back, this Tuesday. The album is based on the 2010 book The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, a nonfiction look at the prison system by Michelle Alexander, and Dice uses not just music but also film as his medium.

In advance of the release, he shared scenes from the documentary short which accompanies his album, Pull of Gravity, directed by El Sawyer and Jon Kaufman. Shot entirely in Philadelphia, the film addresses the mass incarceration suffered by urban youth and includes discussion by several artists featured on the record. Dice Raw dedicates the record to his friend, Jimmy Davis, who was murdered on June 20: “I wanted to dedicate this album to him in the hopes of changing some perspectives and saving some lives.”

Watch Pull of Gravity below, and look for Dice Raw’s album, Key Studio Session and appearance at the City Hall Presents series next week.

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Dice Raw releases a thought-provoking new single, “Wake Up” (playing City Hall on 8/7)

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Philadelphia rapper Dice Raw is set to release a new thematic album called Jimmy’s Back in the beginning of August. Based on the book The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Color Blindness by Dr. Michelle Alexander, it looks at topics like prison reform, the legal system and racial stereotyping (many of which were in the news in a big way this weekend when the George Zimmerman verdict was announced on Saturday). Produced by Roots associate Khari Mateen, “Wake Up” is a call-to action, with a tense and anxious beat under Dice Raw rapping about unfair laws and circumstances.  Check out the single below and look for the album August 4th.

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