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Summertime Sips and Summertime Sounds: ILL Doots

ILL Doots | Photo by Charlie Arnold | courtesy of the artist

This summer, for ILL Doots, has been all about preparation—like a volcano building magma before it explodes. “On the surface, it may seem like we’ve been kind of quiet,” explains Anthony Martinez-Briggs (stage name: Phantom) over drinks at Boot & Saddle. “But there’s so much going on behind the scenes.”

By “kind of quiet” of course he means “kind of quiet for ILL Doots,” who have spent the past 6 years playing, dropping tracks, and hosting workshops in Philly and beyond—with nary a sign of slowing down. Their “quiet” period included a handful of live performances, curating shows at their South Philly home, affectionately known as “Tasker House,” and writing and performing the soundtrack to the Wilma Theater’s production of An Octoroonin addition to recording and preparing for tour. Octoroon’s soundtrack drops later this week, and this Saturday they’ll kick off a 3-week, U.S. tour with a show at Boot & Saddle; while on the road, they’ll also host a series of free workshops teaching music to kids.

If it sounds ambitious, that’s because it is. But the dudes of ILL Doots—”ILL” being an acronym for “I Love Learning”—have never been ones to shy away from a challenge. Since coming together in the U Arts dormitories back in 2009, the Philadelphia eight-piece has consistently challenged expectations of what it means to be a hip-hop band today, marrying cool raps and fresh production with a focus on collaboration, community betterment, and positivity. Originally conceived as a jam sesh between roommates Jordan “Rodney” McCree (drums) and Scott “Sly Tompson” Ziegler (bass), the band added emcees Martinez-Briggs and Kirschen “Tex” Wolford soon after, then slowly grew to the monolith it is today.

These days, ILL Doots is a growing force on the local scene, whose stock continues to rise. Before heading out on tour, I caught up with 4/8th of the band—McCree, Ziegler, Martinez-Briggs, and guitarist Sam “BPAD” Borrello—to talk weekends in the Wissahickon, classic summer jamz, and what they’re most psyched about this fall. Continue reading →

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A conversation with ILL DOOTS, Philly’s most idealistic hip-hop collective

Ill Doots
Ill Doots | Photo courtesy of the artist

Philly hip-hop collective ILL DOOTS wants to start a movement. An ILL movement.

The ILL is an acronym, and according to Anthony “Phantom” Martinez-Briggs – one of the group’s emcees – it has three different meanings: “I love living,” “I love learning,” and “I love lessons.”

“We feel as though we can’t help but be creating this often, really having interactions with people that honor what their natural impulses are in life,” Phantom explains. “And it doesn’t just have to be art. We don’t want to alienate a member of our audience who writes, plays basketball, or who wants to be a great mother. If that’s what makes you feel alive, if that’s what gives your life worth, that’s what our music is all about.”

ILL DOOTS first began in a stuffy dorm room at the University of the Arts with Jordan “Rodney” McCree and Scott “Sly Tompson” Ziegler jamming together and playing lots of J Dilla. Over time, the group slowly added more members – Sly Tompson discovered Phantom at a UArts open mic, Phantom brought along Kirschen “Tex” Wolford, and so the chain continued until the band reached its current tally of nine members. Continue reading →

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Still need New Year’s Eve plans? Here are eight more concerts to see.

The Lawsuits | Photo by Caitlin McCann
The Lawsuits | Photo by Caitlin McCann

It’s crunch time, procrastinators. New Year’s Eve is tonight, and you need plans. Thankfully, there are a lot of options in the world of live music. Tickets are still available for almost everything on our initial roundup of gigs – only the Nothing show at Boot and Saddle is sold out. And hey, a solid handful of concerts have been announced over the past month too! If you want to make music part of your celebration, but want to dig a little deeper than the cover band / tribute band universe, read on. Continue reading →

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: ILL Doots at PhilaMOCA, Disco Hootenany and Potpourii of Pearls at Kung Fu Necktie

Photo by Tess McChesney Kunik, courtesy of facebook.com/ILLDOOTS
Photo by Tess McChesney Kunik, courtesy of facebook.com/ILLDOOTS

Philadelphia rap group ILL Doots will play tonight’s Tuesday Tune-Out at PhilaMOCA. Formed initially as a jam band between friends in 2009, the now 12-piece group plays shows up and down the East Coast. The event tonight at PhilaMOCA features a live performance as well as a movie screening TBA. Tickets and information can be found at the XPN concert calendar.

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Get into the “Season of Giving” with Hurricane Sandy Relief Concerts in Atlantic City and at MilkBoy

Trevor Gordon Hall will play a Hurricane Sandy benefit at MilkBoy tonight

More efforts for Hurricane Sandy relief are popping up in the tri-state region this weekend, beginning with a show headlined by none other than Shakey himself. Neil Young & Crazy Horse, Trey Anastasio of Phish, and Everest have collaboratively organized a benefit show at The Borgata in Atlantic City for this evening. Proceeds from tonight’s show will be directed to the American Red Cross Hurricane Sandy Relief effort, which you can contribute to here. Anastasio, who formerly lived in Pronceton, will be performing a special acoustic set for tonight’s benefit. General admission tickets for the all-ages benefit are available at our concert calendar here; the concert starts at 8. Below, check out Anastasio’s Acoustic Barn performance of “Time Turns Elastic.”

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