Recap: Scenes from the Mad Decent Block Party

Photo by Rachel Barrish |
Photo by Rachel Barrish |

The traditional Philadelphia-throned Mad Decent Block Party took place this past weekend at the Great Plaza at Penns Landing. Owner of Mad Decent and DJ, Thomas Wesley Pentz (aka Diplo) began the block party in 2008 when it used to actual take place on an actual block. Now with bigger artists and more of a demand, the parties have expanded across the country (and the world, if you include Toronto). During this Mad Decent tour, headlining act for every party included Major Lazer and rotating acts like Zeds Dead, Flosstradamus, and Riff Raff, among many others on the Mad Decent label.

A sold-out Philadelphia show brought out a variety of people, and when I say variety, I mean that is the most real sense possible. Because the show was all ages, there were people there ranging from probably 15 to 40 years old.

The day was beautiful and the sun was shining as people wearing neon colors of pink and green scattered down onto the waterfront. Girls wearing less to nothing except black duct tape or handmade crop tops; people’s arms and bodies covered in beaded bracelets aka “candy”, and carrying around cartoon backpacks of characters like Lilo & Stitch or Spongebob Squarepants.

This cultural spaceship that landed at Mad Decent has emerged worldwide since the EDM (Electronic Dance music) scene became so prominent. DJ’s, rap, and electronic music that come along with dance moves like twerking and breakdancing.

Who’s to say how long this craze will last among the all of the cultural fads that seem to come and go, but EDM seems to be stepping out into the future as a definitive piece of music culture.


The Week’s Best Free MP3s, incl. Khari Mateen, Plow United, Diplo


Local musician / producer Khari Mateen tossed in a cover of George Gershwin’s “Summertime” to celebrate the season.  Mateen gives the Porgy & Bess aria a funky make-over with staccato string parts and chunky beats.  Fun fact – the lyrics to “Summertime” were written by DuBose Heyward, a relative of local singer-songwriter Heyward Howkins.  Stream and download the cover below.

Two Folkadelphia Sessions this week – first up, an endearing acoustic performance by Laura Stevenson, followed by a rocking & rolling set from Brooklyn’s Plates of Cake.  The spectrum of music represented by these two sessions is Folkadelphia’s mission in action, i.e. presenting a braod definition of what it means to be “folk music.”  Stream and download two tracks below and dig in to the rest here.

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Download a new remix by Major Lazer (playing Mad Decent Block Party 7/27)

Major Lazer

Electronic dancehall party starters Major Lazer just dropped a free remix of “The Fog” by Machel Montano. Spearheaded by Diplo, the EDM group released its new album, Free the Universe, in April and featured a ridiculous variety of artists, from Ezra Koenig to Bruno Mars to dancehall artists like Busy Signal. Major Lazer is embarking on a nationwide tour headlining the Mad Decent Block Parties. The very first Mad Decent Block Party was in Philadelphia (when the label was still based in Philly), and the day-long event returns to Penn’s Landing on July 27th. You can find more information here.


The Week So Far: 12 must-read stories on The Key (incl. The Districts, Mavis Staples, Birdie Busch and more)


Miles Davis would have celebrated his 87th birthday on Sunday.  Check out some live footage of the legendary trumpet player’s 1970 show at the old Electric Factory [link]

Diplo curated a summer playlist featuring James Blake, Daft Punk, Laura Mvula and more for Vulture [link]

XPN’s Gotta Hear Song of the Week is Mavis Staples‘ cover of the Funkadelic track “Can You Get to That” [link]

Singer-songwriter / fiddler Sara Watkins recorded a session for Folkadelphia [link]

Birdie Busch will be releasing her recent PledgeMusic-funded album on vinyl and donating proceeds to the IHM Literacy Center in West Philadelphia [link]

Dock Street Beer Run announces the line-up for their June 9th 5k / music festival event, including On the Water, Norwegian Arms and Post Sun Times [link]

Sonja Sofia is profiled in the latest installment of Kettle Pot Tracks’ On the Hill series [link]

Local power rockers Lantern unveiled a new song called “Evil Eye” and the cover art for their upcoming LP Rock ‘N’ Roll Rorschach [link]

Watch a video of The Districts performing at The Porch at 30th Street Station yesterday for XPN’s Philly Local Busker series [link]

Folk duo Arborea shared a new video for their song “Pale Horse Phantasm”; they’ll be at the Highwire Gallery on June 9th for a Folkadelphia Presents show [link]

The Photon Band is back with a new album and a show at Johnny Brenda’s on July 6th [link]

Newish Philly outfit Divers were the subject of this week’s Key Studio Session [link]


Just Announced: Mad Decent Block Party happening on 7/27


The first wave of announcements for Mad Decent’s annual Block Party have begun rolling in from Diplo’s camp, and the touring event will hit its hometown of Philly on July 27th.  No line-up has been made public yet but based on previous years it’s sure to be a colorful mix of hip hop, electronica and experimental genre mash-ups.  Check out the announcement video below and then stream Diplo’s “Express Yourself” featuring Nicky Da B and remixed by DJ Mustard.


Download Major Lazer’s “Lazer Strikes Back Vol. 3”

lazervol3DJ and producer Diplo’s Major Lazer releases its new album Free The Universe on April 15th on Secretly Canadian Records. Major Lazer tweeted a download link to the latest in their Lazer Strikes Back remix EP’s. Download volume three here.

Download volume 2 here.
Download volume 1 here.

Volume 3 tracklist:
1. Major Lazer & Flux Pavilion – Jah No Partial (Vato Gonzalez Remix)
2. Major Lazer – Get Free feat. Amber of Dirty Projectors (Avicii Edit)
3. Major Lazer – Get Free feat. Amber of Dirty Projectors (CAMO UFOs Remix)
4. No Doubt – Settle Down (Major Lazer Remix)



Listen to a new Major Lazer song featuring Vampire Weekend’s Ezra Koenig (Vampire Weekend playing WXPN’s SXSW broadcast this Friday)

Pitchfork has reported that BBC’s Radio One debuted a new song, “Jessica”, by Major Lazer from Diplo and company’s forthcoming album, Free The Universe, our April 15th on Secretly Canadian. It featured Ezra Koenig, the lead singer of Vampire Weekend. VW’s new album, Modern Vampires Of The City, is out on May 6th. Listen to it the breezy reggae jam below. Vampire Weekend are playing WXPN’s South By Southwest live broadcast this Friday on a bill that includes Divine Fits, Iron & Wine, Dawes, Charles Bradley, Artist To Watch Pickwick, Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell. The broadcast starts at 1PM ET.


Watch the new Major Lazer video, “Jah No Partial ft. Flux Pavilion” (partially filmed in Philly)

Major Lazer has a new video for “Jah No Partial” (featuring Flux Pavillion) that was partially filmed in Philly during the Mad Decent block party. We all know that Diplo and his colleagues know how to throw a party and this video captures the Major Lazer crew in full effect. “Jah No Partial” is from the band’s forthcoming album Major Lazer Frees The Universe coming out on February 19th on Mad Decent/Downtown Records. You can buy the single here. Last week Diplo received two Grammy nominations; one for Producer of The Year and one for Best R&B Performance for co-writing Usher’s “Climax.” Take a listen to Diplo’s production work from the last year here. Below, watch the video for “Jah No Partial.”