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I could sit here and regale you with stories and stats about the Prison-Industrial Complex all day, but is that going to do anything? Even for the most #woke among us, it’s hard to know where to start to deal with something as massively unassailable as a for-profit prison system that funnels young lives straight into jails. But—much like music—it’s best to start with stories. Sunday night at World Cafe Live, Philly organization Beyond the Bars hit home with a massive benefit show incorporating both to strike back.
By going into prisons and teaching music to incarcerated youth, Beyond the Bars staff and volunteers are able to bring hope and respite to members of society that most people have already written off as a loss. “Even though they’re in prison, they’re still people, man. Just people,” said Bars staff member Christopher Thornton. Continue reading →
After selling out their release show at Johnny Brenda’s, South Philly rapper Lushlife and beat makers CSLSX have now shared a video for “The Waking World” (featuring Swedish dream-rock outfit I Break Horses) from the new Ritualize LP. The clip opens with archival footage of a tape player inside of a jail cell before moving through scenes of young men in class, late night city life and quick shots of the outside world.
The ending is a beautiful explosion of flying galaxy lights paired with the airy vocals of I Break Horses, reaching a transcendental high that Lushlife aptly described as “celestial.” Check it out below and revisit Lushlife’s Unlocked feature here.
Lushlife, a.k.a. Raj Haldar (the focus of this past weeks UNLOCKED series), and CSLSX (pronounced casual sex, if you’ve only ever seen it in print), have put together something really special with Ritualize. CSLSX’s production is bursting at the seams with elements of classic hip-hop, indie rock, and shoegaze. Let’s call it dream-hop. Raj’s lyrics are planted firmly in Philadelphia, but peppered with so much more that widens the appeal, and with a flow that recalls the golden era of rap. Marrying these two together solidifies what will hopefully be a word wide hit, if only on the level that underground albums become world wide hits. It’s a wholly unique experience that I’ve not heard anything like since DFA produced Automato’s album a decade ago (and that quickly got buried in the underground). Continue reading →
Self-proclaimed “sludge punk” trio Fight Amp are set to play Kung Fu Necktie tonight for what will be, according to the band’s Facebook page, one of their only Philly dates of the year. Last year, the group released Constantly Off, a new collection of angsty, energetic punk-rock, that was their first new material in over three years. That is all to say that you better catch Fight Amp in person while you have the chance — tickets to the 21+ show are available at the XPN Concert Calendar. Continue reading →
All week long we’ve been putting the UNLOCKED spotlight on the new release by Lushlife and CSLSX, Ritualize. Tomorrow night’s record release party at Johnny Brenda’s is expected to be epic. Lushlife will be performing with CSLSX, and he promises some special guests.
Fresh off a 72 hour media marathon in NYC, Lushlife, aka Raj Haldar, is a little hazy. Slouched deep in his blue upholstered couch with his Harmony electric across his lap, it’s the first weekend he’s had in awhile. Before New York he was in Austin at his label’s, Western Vinyl, HQ and the next weekend he would be flying out to the midwest to film with Nik+Lamar, who filmed the award winning “Magnolia” for Plateau Vision. Continue reading →
In some ways, the business of CSLSX (that’s “casual sex”)—started just as you’d expect it: casually. “We were all living at Broad and Tasker, and we had a room set up with all these instruments,” says producer/guitarist/vocalist Andrew Alburn, from a high-top table at Vincenzo’s Deli in South Philadelphia. “So people would come over and mess around. Originally CSLSX had no defined members; it was meant to represent music curated by the collective.” Continue reading →
Ritualize is a record that’s concerned with vibe and feeling—it’s a record that wants to transport you somewhere, then set the mood in broad, sweeping strokes. The collaboration between Philly rapper Lushlife (a.k.a. Raj Haldar) and production trio CSLSX is a dreamy journey through a jungle of smoke and sex, through which Lushlife, our narrator, weaves yarns and offers cinematic snapshots of the people and things he sees.
It’s beautiful, sultry record, with Lushlife’s raps the muscle that keeps it moving ahead. Constructed painstakingly by Haldar and CSLSX over the course of 3 years—in a process that Haldar describes as “Herculean”—Ritualize succeeds because it spares no detail in achieving its after hours vibe. Production is pristine, and listening on headphones, you get the sense that there is a real depth to these songs, even if they were layered together one piece at a time in the studio. Continue reading →
“It’s weird. I’ve been Lushlife my whole adult life. The genesis of the name is incidental now to me, but it’s just cute high school shit. Ultimately, I was just a marching band, jazz dork. Today, what Lushlife does is only tangentially related to that stuff, but a name becomes I name, I guess. When I was in the airport this weekend, someone recognized me and yelled out that name as I was walking by, and my head turned in the same intrinsic way that my given name would,” Raj Haldar says.
Philadelphia’s Lushlife began challenging the way hip-hop is defined long before his first official release, Cassette City, in 2009. Since his first show in 2005 at The Jazz Cafe in Camden Town, London, Raj Haldar’s ability to blur the lines between what the genre is and what it could be is the gospel he lives by. Ritualize, which premiered on Billboard on February 17th and was officially released February 19th, is the next notch in Haldar’s career, and it’s a coming of age story. And the story behind “Body Double”, his first single, is a harrowing one. Continue reading →
On the surface, the duo are an unlikely couple. Mixing hip-hop with Pink’s brand of weirdo psychedelic rock seems anything but intuitive. But upon listening to the track, the collaboration instantly makes sense. Continue reading →