Zakee and Res set the mood for Valentine’s Day with an ambient serenade


If you’re making a playlist for your significant other this Valentine’s Day, it’d be foolish not to include the new sultry duet from Philly vocalists Zakee and Res. “But You” is sexy without trying too hard or too little; a classy delight. Acoustic guitar melodies fill in the spaces between Res’s seductive tone and Zakee’s signature rasp. Slated to appear on both of their upcoming projects, it’s a job well done for the two songbirds.


Listen to Zakee’s new single “Mountain Dreams”


Zakee | photo via
Zakee | photo via

Local musician and DJ Zakee has released his first new track of 2014, a beautifully drifting song called “Mountain Dreams.”  With soft “ooohs” and delicate acoustic guitar melodies, the recording recalls floating clouds as Zakee’s rich vocals strike a balance between balladry and R&B.  Stream the new song below and keep an ear out for the forthcoming Rise of the Rebels: Assimilations LP this spring.


Deep jams with Philly native Zakee on the new “Tippin”

ZakeeZakee Kuduro spent most of his life in Philly, having grown up in West Philly and gotten his start in music DJing and producing in town. The past few years, he’s been something of a globetrotter, bouncing between Rio, New York, home and outer space. No, wait, we’re pretty sure he hasn’t been to space. But he’s consistently released genre-defying, boundary-pushing music rich in easygoing philosophies and a solid party vibe – including the underrated 2011 LP Assimilations. His latest, “Tippin’,” showed up yesterday on, who called it “the emotional maturation of the trap.” The song comes from his sophomore LP Rise of the Rebels, and the man himself had this to say:

Rise of the Rebels: Assimilations shows a side of me that only a select few get to see. This music represents my life growing up in West Philly while traveling around the world. My perspectives are a bit different but still grounded in the hood where I came from. It represents all those underdog moments of my life while paying homage.

Listen to “Tippin” below. For something even more thought provoking, check out Healing Walks, a powerful documentary short Zakee released this summer about tar sands mining, the Keystone XL pipeline and the effect these things have on the environment – particularly the indigenous peoples of Alberta, Canada.


Download The Key Studio Sessions Compilation Vol. 4 (feat. City Rain, Pink Skull, Lushlife, Chill Moody, + more)

Photo by Arrah Fisher

Special thanks to all of the bands for coming to our studio, and to John Vettese for recording them. We’d also like to thank volunteer production assistants Fred Knittel, Madeleine Lesperance, and Dan Malloy as well as photographers Kate Bracaglia, Corey Cohen, Sarah Fry, Shamus McGroggan, Noah Gabriel Merenda, Sylvia Ramirez, and Heidi Schlenzig for sharing their work. Continue reading →


The Key Studio Sessions: Zakee

In another life, Zakee Kuduro was a calculus teacher at West Philadelphia High School who dabbled in music and production in his spare time. At the time, his path wasn’t entirely clear: “It was too hard for me to put out my obscure sound in Philly,” he recalls. “I felt like I wasn’t hip-hop enough, I wasn’t electronic dance enough, and I wasn’t neo-soul or whatever. I found myself in this weird little category.” That category being a musician who wanted to work in all of those styles – and more. Call it the product of 14 years spent studying violin and piano at South Philly’s Settlement Music School as a kid; call it the aspirations of somebody who holds The Fugees, Biggie and Smashing Pumpkins in equal regard. In 2010, Zakee traveled to Brazil to play at a festival and work in the studio, and the result was Assimilations, his brilliant debut record that came out on Green Owl in September of last year. It draws from all those above-mentioned styles, as well as sounds he absorbed traveling in South America as well as Africa. In this week’s Key Studio Session, we get a taste of the album’s highlights, performed singer-and-sampler style in our studio last fall. Tune in to the Key Studio Sessions hour tomorrow night at 7 on XPN2 to hear the full session, as well as my interview with Zakee – where we get the scoop on his creative journey, his plans for an Assimilations followup due out early this year, and the live band he hopes to bring around with him more often.


John Vettese’s Top Five Local Albums of 2011

This week, we’ll be taking a look at several WXPN/XPN2 staff members’ Best Of 2011 lists. Today, XPN2’s John Vettese—who records and produces our Key Studio Sessions—tells us his five favorite local albums of the year. 

1. The War On Drugs, Slave Ambient (Secretly Canadian) Listen to The War On Drugs’ Key Studio Session


2. Creepoid, Horse Heaven (Ian) Listen to Creepoid’s Key Studio Session


3. Zakee, Assimilations(Green Owl)


4. Meg Baird, Seasons On Earth (Drag City)


5. Saturn Never Sleeps, Yesterday’s Machine (self-released) Listen to Saturn Never Sleeps’ Key Studio Session