The Week’s Best Free MP3s, incl. Curly Castro, The Head and The Heart, Josh Jones


Curly Castro | Photo by Laura Lynn |
Curly Castro | Photo by Laura Lynn |

This week’s Key Studio Session brought local MC Curly Castro into the studio.  The exceptionally expansive session of six tracks and six banter breaks bridges the duality of modern day hip hop: Castro has the rare ability to be both hype man and activist, alternating between the two.  He was joined by fellow Philly producer Zilla Rocca, who Castro worked with on last year’s Wu Tang Pulp tribute project.  Stream and download “West Indian Rum” below and check out the full session here.

Following his debut single “Away,” new Philly rapper JustXSudan has shared another new track called “A Couple Wishes.”  Where “Away” served to introduce himself to his new audience, “A Couple Wishes” takes JustXSudan’s listeners into the reality of his everyday environment.  Stream and download the song below and keep an ear out for Sudan’s debut record.

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Download “A Couple Wishes,” the new single from JustXSudan

JustXSudanA few weeks ago we introduced you to Philly rapper JustXSudan and his debut single “Away.” The just-getting-started MC (and son of renowned poet and performer Ursula Rucker) is working on his debut, and today we’ve bring you the second track from it. While “Away” accomplished a lot in less than a minute and a half, “A Couple Wishes” stretches out to 2:17 and digs even deeper. On the first single, Sudan took the first-person perspective, delivering his motivations for being a rapper from a multitude of angles. Here, he looks outward at the obstacles young people face as they make their own way into the world. Specifically, Sudan talks about poverty – a man in a wheelchair who can’t afford proper health care – and urban violence – someone who gets gunned down at a take-out restaurant. When we interviewed him, he hinted that this track might come across more cynical. But it’s not so much that, as much as it’s an account reality, and a firm desire to do something about it. Listen below.


The Week So Far: 11 must-read stories on The Key (incl. Rosanne Cash, The Staves, Dr. Dog)


Rosanne Cash | Photo by Chris Sikich |
Rosanne Cash | Photo by Chris Sikich |

Rosanne Cash stunned a sold-out Sellersville Theater crowd Sunday night – check out photos and a review of the concert [link]

Experimental cellist Dan Kassel is featured in this week’s Key Studio Session [link]

Brand new Philly rapper JustXSudan released a debut track called “Away” – get to know him in this week’s profile [link]

Give a listen to XPN’s Gotta Hear Song of the Week, “Young Fathers” by Typhoon [link]

Pattern is Movement will headline Union Transfer in October with support from Norwegian Arms, The Spinto Band and Worshyper [link]

Check out Kurt Vile‘s cover of Nine Inch Nails’ “Down In It,” recorded for A.V. Undercover [link]

XPN premiered a new track from TV On the Radio called “Million Miles” [link]

Before releasing B-Room in October, Dr. Dog have shared a second track “Broken Heart” [link]

The Staves joined Folkadelphia at the Historic St. George’s United Methodist Church for a spectacular Suitcase Session [link]

Fishtown River City Festival announced headliners for its 6th annual event, including Vacationer and Cheers Elephant [link]

The Chairman Dances will perform at Friday’s opening of the Pterodactyl Gallery’s new exhibit, the Unnatural Behaviour [link]


Interview: Meet Philly rapper JustXSudan, download his single “Away”

imagePhilly rapper JustXSudan released his first track just over two weeks ago. It’s only a minute and a half long, but it sounds like something much greater – a fully-formed slice of philosophical hiphop that has this 18-year-old spitter looking like he’s poised to do great things.

“Away,” produced by New York beatmaker Chuma Osse, launches with a suave guitar line and two layers of interlocked beats. It’s swift and punchy, and JustXSudan raps about, well, rap – performance as a means of connection and socialization, performance as a way of living one’s dreams.  A rumbling bass kicks in, and he contines: “Focused my vision / promised my mom that I would never take the prison route.”

His mom, we should note, is Ursula Rucker, poet, activist and longtime collaborator of The Roots, King Britt and more. We came across this track from JustXSudan while reading up on her appearance at Philly Folk Fest a couple weeks ago; at the festival, we got to meet him and talk about how his own musical path emerged.

“I was always in the studio growing up,” he said. “You’d think I’d get tired of it, but I’ve just grown a huge love for it. And I have people like King Britt, all these people around who can help me. I’m just around good people. They all said I should be doing something.”

Sudan says he rapped and kind of kept it to himself for years, until the encouragement from his friends and family pushed him to make the leap. This summer he decided he’d put something out, and hoped people would like it. Continue reading →