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The Key’s Year-End Mania: Maureen Walsh’s Top 5 EPs of 2014

Charlotte Church | via facebook.com/charlottechurchofficial
Charlotte Church | via facebook.com/charlottechurchofficial

Year-End Mania is the Key’s survey of the things below the surface that made 2014 awesome. In this installment, Key contributor Maureen Walsh shares her favorite EPs of the year.

Within the past few years, artists have gotten more creative with how they release their music. One trend that is resurging is the EP. The EP used to be an extra set of songs that was released between albums. Lately, however, EPs are a way for artists to put out material and not be constricted to having an entire album’s worth of songs. This frees them to create short experiments and release material more frequently. Continue reading →

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S.T.S. sends hip-hop postcards from Switzerland in “Letters From Lugano”

S.T.S. | Photo by John Vettese
S.T.S. | Photo by John Vettese

Today Philadelphia’s Sugar Tongue Slim his new “Letters From Lugano,” featuring DjJBearOne. He uses the lyric to meditate on his growth and adventures in the industry, but what may be more interesting is the beat, which goes through different transitions throughout the song. It’s as if DJ BearOne is in the back scratching and fading to the next song and the next to entertain the crowd, while Slim is still in the lyrical zone of the first. That being said, “Letters From Lugano” actually becomes time capsule of S.T.S.’s European tour, and was written on break in Lugano, Switzerland. Check the track out below. Continue reading →

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Son Little at Dilworth Park, War on Women at First Unitarian Church, Sugar Tongue Slim at PhilaMOCA and more

Son Little | Photo by Kelsey Stanger
Son Little | Photo by Kelsey Stanger

Philly newcomers Son Little have a fantastic debut EP called Things I Forgot coming out on Anti- Records next month, and they headline a free outdoor show this evening at Dilworth Park at City Hall. Founded by Aaron Livingston, a local singer-songwriter-guitarist who has worked with The Roots and collaborated with RJD2 on the Icebird project, Son Little pushes his creative boundaries even further, dabbling in soul, hard rock, and Radiohead-esque minimal electronica. The band recorded a knockout Key Studio Session this week; download the song “Joy” below and get more information on the show here. Continue reading →

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The Week’s Best Free MP3s, incl. The Hold Steady, Cookie Rabinowitz, Sugar Tongue Slim

The Hold Steady
The Hold Steady | Photo by Kelsey Stange for WXPN

XPN members at the Special Producers level got a treat from The Hold Steady recently when they performed and recorded an interview with David Dye live for World Cafe.  You can listen to the full World Cafe appearance here, which includes performances of “Stuck Between Stations,” “Sequestered in Memphis,” and “The Ambassador.”  ”I Hope This Whole Thing Doesn’t Frighten You” is available as a free download below. Continue reading →

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: RJD2 / Sugar Tongue Slim at Underground Arts, Banks at Union Transfer, Dark Blue at Boot and Saddle and (much) more

RJD2 | Photo via Philly.com
RJD2 | Photo via Philly.com

DJ and electronic dance artist RJD2 headlines the Jump Philly-curated Sound Select show tonight at Underground Arts with Sugar Tongue Slim and Marian Hill. After gaining popularity for his song “Ghostwriter” from 2002′s Deadringer, RJD2 has continued to catch people’s attention with his jazzy, throwback mixes. Many might know his song “A Beautiful Mine,” which was featured as the theme song for AMC’s hit show Mad Men. Infused with samples from big band music and jazz standards, his songs takes from the old and mixes it in a fresh, current style. The artist has most recently been working with rappers on his latest album, More Is than Isn’t, including Philly’s Sugar Tongue Slim, who will be sharing the stage tonight. STS has become one of the top hip hop artists in Philadelphia and continues to maintain his presence in the music scene here. For more information on tonight’s show, check out the XPN Concert Calendar and watch RJD2′s music video for “1976″ below. Continue reading →

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Red Bull Sound Select: See Who’s Playing

Sugar Tongue Slim | Photo by John Vettese
Sugar Tongue Slim | Photo by John Vettese

The Red Bull Sound Select is an live music series sponsored by the wing-dispensing energy drink company it’s named for, in an effort to promote new music and artists in emerging genres and styles. The concert series happens all over the United States and presents lineups consisting of up-and-coming artists alongside national names. This Saturday, September 27th, the Sound Select series, curated for this show by Jump Magazine, brings a varied group of artists, each known for their own unique “spin” on hip-hop, to Underground Arts. The lineup consists of instrumental hip-hop producing and djing icon RJD2, slick-lipped Philly boy  and “GOLD”-affiliated rapper Sugar Tongue Slim, and the Philly minimal electro-funk/soul/jazz/hip-hop/so-many-other-things duo known as Marian Hall. Continue reading →

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The Key Studio Sessions: Sugar Tongue Slim

It’s very fitting that the words “Poet Laureate” are tattooed on Sugar Tongue Slim‘s neck. The charismatic Philly rapper has a way with words, a gift of gab, and it plays tremendously into his music and his persona. Continue reading →

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: S.T.S. at MilkBoy, OhBree at Kung Fu Necktie, Polyphonic Spree at Prince Music Theater

STS
Sugar Tongue Slim | photo via stsisgold.bandcamp.com

We were already a fan of outside-the-box Philly rapper S.T.S. (AKA Sugar Tongue Slim), and then this summer he took his artistic scope to a prolific new level – and with it, our enthusiasm was amped even further. First, there was his weekly “In The Lab” series of remixes, collaborations and other audio ephemera he’s been releasing on pretty much a weekly basis since June. His latest – “How Philly Use To Sound” – features cuts from DJ Jazzy Jeff, alongside verses from up and coming rappers Dayne Jordan and Son Little, celebrating the jazz and soul roots of the city: “this was a renaissance town / full of seekers who found / a soul song in they heart / a sort of hip to their hop / a certain je ne sais quoi / a touch of jazz in the park / a saxophone in the dark.” Slim and his collaborators paint a vivid picture here, and especially so on We Can Talk Politics and World Affairs, the incredible EP he dropped this summer that’s equally parts hard-hitting beats, high-energy rock and thought provoking rhymes unpacking a bevy of social issues from religion to racial profiling. Tonight Slim headlines MilkBoy on a stacked bill that also features Hezekiah, The Bul Bey and more. Tickets and information can be found at the XPN Concert Calendar. Below, listen to “How Philly Use To Sound.” Continue reading →

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Five mixtapes from the Philly hip hop scene you need to hear right now

Yikes the Zero: a Philly hip hop artist to watch
Yikes the Zero | Photo by Dom Savini | DomSavini.com

A couple weeks ago, I was trading Twitter messages with King Shampz, a Philly rapper on the come-up, and he said something that really struck me. “I’m trying to show people that there’s more to this city than Meek Mill.” With all due respect to Meek and everything he’s done in drawing outside eyes to the Philly hop hop scene, there are so many talented MCs on the grind and so few who get to the level of recognition as him. Or, say, the level of The Roots – though it should be noted, even they took 15 years to reach celebrity status. It can be a tough road, but the Philly hip hop community is a hotbed of talent, and people should sit up and listen, even when they’re not names you’ll recognize. (Especially when they’re not names you’ll recognize.) Here’s a rundown of five releases / Bandcamp EPs / mixtapes from the Philadelphia scene that impressed me this summer, and why you should lend them your ears. Continue reading →