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Meek Mill’s delayed Dreams and Nightmares tour kicks off this spring, playing the Tower Theater on 4/5

Meek Mill | Photo by John Vettese

A four-year-old drug conviction prevented Philly rapper Meek Mill from heading out on tour when his record Dreams and Nightmares was released in the fall; in December, he was temporarily barred from performing by a Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas judge due to stipulations in his probation. That has passed, and Meek is heading out on a national run of dates this spring, beginning in Boston before heading down to headline the Tower Theater on April 5th. Tickets for the show go on sale this Friday, February 22, via Live Nation. Below, watch a video of Meek being interviewed by The Fader at his Sigma Sound Studio concert back in December.

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Watch Meek Mill get interviewed at Sigma Sound Studios for The Fader

Meek Mill | Photo by John Vettese

When Meek Mill played a fans-only party at Chinatown’s Sigma Sound back in December, there were some notable folks in the crowd. Miley Cyrus, for one – she was recording downstairs, and popped up in time to hear Meek shout her name out in “Believe It.” But also a video crew from The Fader (which included our buddy Michael James Murray of Out of Town Films). The interview they shot premiered on the blog a couple weeks back, and in it, Meek gives some insight into his work ethic, what it takes to stand out from the Philly hiphop scene, and what keeps him inspired – in his city, and around the country. Check out the video below.

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Meek Mill pledges to donate $10,000 to Strawberry Mansion High School; school still proposed for closure

North Philadelphia rapper Meek Mill pledged to donate $10,000 to his alma mater Strawberry Mansion High School, according to a report on Philly.com. Along with the $10,000 donation, he is using his new endorsement through Puma to set up the Strawberry Mansion Knight’s basketball team with new shoes.

These efforts from Meek (offstage name: Robert Williams), who is prohibited from touring for the next 30 days because of his 2008 legal troubles, come as Strawberry Mansion High School is one of the eight schools proposed for closure in concordance with Superintendent Hite’s initiative to consolidate Philadelphia public schools. From Philly.com:

Calling it “a historic moment,” Hite said his recommendations also included changing the grade levels of 23 schools and making other program changes affecting another seven. The total savings for the district could be up to $28 million beginning in 2014-15, he said. The proposed changes will be presented to the School Reform Commission Dec. 20 and, if approved, would affect 17,000 district students, 45 principals and 1,168 teachers. The number of schools would drop from 237 to 199; one in six schools would be closed.

Some community members, including Mill, believes that this consolidation will hurt the public school system. Many believe that forcing students from rival neighborhoods to converge onto the same campus will cause an increase in violence. With all these safety concerns, as well as regards  over-crowding, the Hite administration has been assuring Philadelphia residents that a portion of the money being saved will be allocated to address these concerns so that the safety of the children remains a top priority.

More on this topic as it develops. For now you can follow Meek Mill on his twitter, and check out a gallery a review of his fans-only show at Sigma Sound Studio on Tuesday night here.

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Meek Mill and The Dreamchasers Allstars brought the noise to Sigma Sound (photos, recap, setlist)

Just by nature of his music – the big beats, the aggressive rhymes, the relentless airhorns – Meek Mill is larger-than life. So for him to wrap up his breakout year in the cozy surroundings of Sigma Sound Studio in Chinatown was a rare treat. The appearance last night was something of a secretive, fans-only thing that drew a hundred-some devotees out early to catch some DJ action and opening sets from a variety of up-and-coming rappers – Los Angeles MC Thurz, and two signees to Meek’s Dreamchasers imprint, Lee Mazine and Louis V Gutta. Around 10:30, the man of the hour strutted onstage to the cheers of the crowd and the bounding energy of his hype man as they launched into the suave autotune frenzy of “Young and Gettin’ It” from Meek’s debut LP Dreams and Nightmares. He hit on most of that album’s highlights – “Pray” got a modest singalong going, which was massively eclipsed by the frenzy of “Intro” – and only shortchanged the standout “Traumatized” by allowing it just a single verse. “This is my most personal record,” he said of the single, and I guess he wasn’t up to oversharing it last night. Elsewhere in the set, he dipped back to the spring’s Dreamchasers 2 for the bass-heavy banger “Burn” and closed on the rousing “I’m A Boss” from the original Dreamchasers. Meek’s stage presence was pointed and tireless – leaping back and forth, working the crowd, striking a pose – and to underscore how fierce his delivery is, DJ Damage often dropped the backing track during songs to let Meek flow a cappella, never once losing the beat. When he’s headlining venues thrice this size in a year, you can mark these words – the work ethic we saw at Sigma last night will be a big part of what got him there. Check out photos in the gallery above, setlist after the jump. Continue reading →

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Meek Mill releases original “Lay Up” with Jay-Z verse

Only a month after the release of Philly rapper Meek Mill‘s debut full-length album, Dreams and Nightmares, a new version of one of its cuts is available for streaming. Originally “Lay Up” was supposed to appear on Meek’s record with verses from Rick Ross, Trey Songz, and Jay-Z, but the final album version included Wale instead of Jay-Z. You can hear the original version – with Jay’s verse intact – in the player below. Continue reading →

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The Week So Far: 12 must-read stories on The Key

Photo by Dominic Digiorno | twitter.com/digs1975

Explore the roots of The Roots with a 1996 audio documentary and vintage photos [link]

Philadelphia art-pop act Auctioneer premiered a new song called “Swim” [link]

We review the major label debut from Philadelphia rapper Meek Mill, Dreams and Nightmares [link]

Philly thrashers Ruby the Hatchet is streaming its entire new album from Bandcamp [link]

Twang out with indie-country guy Daniel Romano and his song “Middle Child” [link]

Remembering the late Terry Callier with performances from World Cafe [link]

Get details on The Lumineers return to Philadelphia in February [link]

Download Memory Tapes‘ second Halloween minimix, Walk Me Home 2 [link]

Philly Americana rockers The Bailey Hounds put a piano-ballad spin on Danzig’s “Mother” [link]

Dan Matz of Windsor for the Derby mixed classic rock and drone rock in an eclectic playlist [link]

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Out Today: Meek Mill’s Dreams and Nightmares

Photo by Clay Patrick McBride

Probably the most anticipated release from Philly’s hip-hop scene this year, Dreams and Nightmares – the major-label debut full-length from North Philly rapper Meek Mill- hit stores today. Leading up to its release, Meek described the record to reporters as a journey, a story of his life to date, and you really feel that listening. Unlike the two Dreamchasers mixtapes that gained him mainstream popularity (not to mention the half-dozen other underground mixtapes that preceded them), this isn’t simply a celebration of a young man achieving his aspirations. Those collections touched on the struggle and the path Meek took, but were mostly empowering tales of going it your own, a rapper as a self-made success. This album gives equal time to the flipside, the hardships and dangers, the nightmares that its title alludes to. Continue reading →

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Get a crash course in the Made in America Festival with our Spotify playlist

This weekend, Jay-Z‘s much-anticipated Made In America festival will fill the Benjamin Franklin Parkway with more than thirty artists playing on three stages in two days. It will be a massive musical melting pot, with everything from hip-hop (Meek Mill) to dubstep (Skrillex) and art-rock (Dirty Projectors) represented. Chances are, you know many of the bands on the bill – Pearl Jam and Run D.M.C. are household names. And even if you don’t realize who sings it, Passion Pit‘s “Take a Walk” has been an inescapable and awesome summer hit. Other performers may be completely new to you (Prince Royce? Afrojack?)…and that’s cool too! Music festivals are about discovery, after all, and we’re here to help you in that process with a crash course in the Made in America lineup. Listen to our Spotify playlist below – it’s got one track from just about every artist on the lineup – and get excited for two days of eclectic sounds eminating from the Parkway!

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Purling Hiss at Morgan’s Pier, Meek Mill at TLA, and XPN Welcomes Lovebettie to The Garden

Gritty lo-fi garage rock band Purling Hiss are playing a free hometown show tonight at Morgan’s Pier with Bandname as part of R5′s Free Saturday Summer Concert Series. The show starts at 6 p.m. and you must be over 21 or accompanied by a legal guardian for entry. Below check out the official music video for the Purling Hiss’ song “The Hoodoo” off their EP, “Lounge Lizards,” out on indie label Mexican Summer.

Rapper and Philly native Meek Mill is a dedicated self-promoter. The hip-hop artist has self-produced and released 14 mixtapes and his hard work has paid off. Meek Hill has collaborated and opened for the likes of Drake, Lil Wayne, and Diddy. Now he is playing two headlining shows at the TLA tonight as part of his Dreamchasers Tour, followed by a slot at the Jay-Z-curated Made in America Festival. The first show tonight at 7 p.m. is sold out, but there are still tickets available for the 11 p.m. show, which are on sale here for $57.50 each. Both shows tonight feature support by rapper Black Cobain. Below check out the music video for Meek Mill’s song “Amen” featuring Drake and Jeremih.

XPN welcomes Pittsburgh alt rock/soul band Lovebettie to The Garden in Carlisle, PA tonight. The show is part of The Garden’s Ladies of the Early Evening series, which features a free show by a female artist every Saturday evening from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. through September 24th. Bring your own chairs or blanket, relax, and enjoy the free tunes. Listen to Lovebettie in the player below.

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Japandroids at Johnny Brenda’s: Review and Photo Recap

“Who knew only two guys could make so much noise?” said one concert goer at the Japandroids show at Johnny Brenda’s this past Friday night. A two man band is extremely possible to get a crowd moving, however Japandroids – consisting of Canadian rock duo, Brian King and David Prowse – wasted no time in rocking the sold-out Johnny Brenda’s. Japandroids have two self-released EP’s, and two full length albums out. Last month they released Celebration Rock, a truly celebratory rock record.

The energy at the Fishtown venue was palpable even before anyone stepped onto the stage. On one of the hottest days of the summer and a sold-out performance, this was bound to be a sweaty show. At just around 9:20 PM, Brian King announced the opening rapper, Cadence Weapon, also from Canada, who tore up the stage and brought a spark of energy to the already hyped crowd. The crafty rapper also did two songs over other artist’s instrumentals; one included “88″, produced by Grimes, and another entitled “Loft Party” with instrumentals by Philadelphia’s own Meek Mill. Cadence Weapon’s latest release is Hope in Dirt City, and you can check out the song “Loft Party” from the show below.

Japandroids came on stage quickly after Cadence Weapon’s excellent performance. The duo is known for their blending of punk and garage rock and recalls Nineties’ rock bands like New Found Glory and Sugarcult with a modern twist. It’s a rarity to hear true rock ‘n roll in this day and age, with the simplicity of just vocals, a guitar, and a drum set. Brian King’s powerful voice gave a burst of energy, rejuvenating the crowd with wild ballads and heavy power chords; while David Prowse’s drumming created a juxtaposition of steadily out of control rhythms.

Opening with “Boys Are Leaving Town” from Post-Nothing, then dove into an extended version of  “Adrenaline Nightshift” followed by “The Nights of Wine and Roses” which King openly admitted to stealing the title from the band The Dream Syndicate; one of two bands that influenced him while writing the album over the course of a year.

Right before the the duo played my personal favorite, the somewhat slower “Continuous Thunder,” I sought some respite in the balcony. The song has a catchy hook and lyrics that leave an impression on you; “If I had all the answers/And you had the body you wanted/Would we love with legendary fire?” Next, they played “Fire’s Highway,” and the crowd was getting so into the show that they were pounding their fists in the air as well as on the stage, and wildly moshing about. This was one of the craziest and fun shows I’ve been to at Johnny Brenda’s.

In addition to being influenced by The Dream Syndicate while working on Celebration Rock, Japandroids were also influenced by Philadelphia natives, The War on Drugs, for whom Japandroids dedicated the last song of their set, “For the Love of Ivy.”  It was truly incredible to get such a crazy, intense show out of just vocals and two instruments; Japandroids just proved that rock ‘n roll is far from being dead.

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