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Zilla Rocca & the Shadowboxers bring noir-hop to life with video “Starvation Hour”

Zilla Rocca
Photo via www.facebook.com/zillarocca

Philly rap crew Zilla Rocca & the Shadowboxers have brought Zilla’s self-styled genre rap-noir to life with the release of new music video “Starvation Hour.” The track preaches the gamble of taking part in the competitive music scene with lyrics “It’s like rolling snake eyes with Dr. Fate”, but according to this Bob Sweeney directed video, there was no competition. Rocca is the last man standing. Continue reading →

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Elegant Animals at MilkBoy, Zilla Rocca and Curly Castro at The Fire, Onelinedrawing at First Unitarian Church and more

Elegant Animals | Photo by John Vettese
Elegant Animals | Photo by John Vettese

They’re the kind of band you can’t quite categorize. Philly’s own Elegant Animals has a bit of every genre rolled into a singular style. Just a few weeks ago, they showcased that unconventional sound during their Key Studio Session. Check them out tonight with Kate Faust and Minka at MilkBoy. The show starts at 8:30 p.m. and the $8 tickets can be purchased here.

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Curly Castro’s latest EP spits out rhymes with heart

Photo courtesy of facebook.com/curlycastro
Photo courtesy of facebook.com/curlycastro

If you want a clear depiction of what modern hip-hop sounds like, take one listen to Curly Castro‘s EP Brody.

Castro’s got an incredible talent of espousing socially-conscious ideas while spitting out rhymes with impeccable energy. Throughout the EP, guitar samples and movie dialogue overlap powerful lyrics, making it irresistible to listen to all six head-bobbing songs.

You can catch Castro with his producer (and fellow MC in the Wrecking Crew) collective, Zilla Rocca, Saturday April 19 at The Fire. The show starts at 9 p.m. and the $10 tickets to the 21+ can be purchased here. If you want more of Castro, check out his The Key Studio Session this past September, at or his solo show a bit away on June 14 (also at The Fire).

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Zilla Rocca paints his thoughts in a trippy new visual for “Fake Surfers”

Zilla Rocca | Photo via www.facebook.com/zillarocca
Zilla Rocca | Photo via www.facebook.com/zillarocca

Zilla Rocca‘s translates literary values of mood and setting, and immerses them into into his own new genre of rap music known as “noir-hop”. We’ve witnessed this in action with “17 Days in VA” from his 2013 Neo Noir mixtape and today in his new video for “Fake Surfers”.

As Zilla mourns his city’s shortcomings and dissatisfaction with society in the track, the image of his face remains static while other graphics intersperse in a variety of colors that create a dream-like effect; the dream he can’t wake from. The new track will appear on his forthcoming  with The Shadowboxers, No Vacation Murder. According to its Bandcamp page, this song and story fits into a larger plot line based on revenge. Watch below.

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Spend “17 Days in VA” in Zilla Rocca’s new music video

Zilla Rocca | Photo via www.facebook.com/zillarocca
Zilla Rocca | Photo via Facebook.com/ZillaRocca

Local rapper/producer Zilla Rocca released a new video for “17 Days in VA”, a track from his new Neo Noir mixtape. We’ve followed Zilla for a while here on The Key, but to bring you up to speed, he’s the self-proclaimed originator of “noir hop”, a subgenre of hip-hop that focuses on storytelling and crime. In a way, Zilla Rocca is using a unique literary style to depict stories of what happens in the streets. Check out the clip below, and get a download of Neo Noir here.

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Premiere: Zilla Rocca and Dewey Decibel’s art-rap collaboration “Chic-O-Stic” (Dewey Decibel art exhibit opens Friday in South Philly)

DeweyZillaThis evening we bring you a track from two Philly rappers who know a thing or two about style and aesthetic. First there’s Zilla Rocca, who launched the self-defined genre of noir-hop: that’s rap music peppered with samples from hard-boiled, whisky-slinging crime films of the 40s and 50s, mixed with period costumes and a design sensibility pulled from the pages of pulp novels. He’s about to drop a new mixtape called Neo Noir on a digital and cassette-only edition (that comes with a drink coaster) – or, wait, what are we talking about, it appears he’s already soft-released the digital edition – and it’s a lot about the hustle, the grind, and the philosophical underpinnings of being a rapper and a creative person.

Joining him on “Chic-O-Stic”, which we’re premiering for you below, is Dewey Decibel, aka Dewey Saunders, a visual artist and MC who bounces seamlessly between the two worlds. This weekend he has a new solo exhibition of his work opening at Benna’s Cafe in South Philadelphia, with a reception tomorrow night from 7 to 11 p.m. The track begins with a mysterious ethereal bed before a slammin’ beat enters, propelling the song forward as Dewey and Zilla swap verses and some sick Miami Vice style synthesizers enter, crafting a sick audio portrait of the nightlife and the roles that its participants play, ending on the sampled declaration: “If you don’t enjoy the doing, do something else.” Listen below.

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Free Download: “Success Is Invisible” from Zilla Rocca’s new #NeoNoir project

Zilla
Photo by Laura Lynn

We know that Philly noir-hop MC Zilla Rocca is working on a new full-length – we hear he’s calling it No Vacation for Murder, and we hear it’s dope – but at present he’s been leaking tracks that seem to be from something else entirely. At least if the #NeoNoir hashtag is anything to go by. Today’s track is called “Success Is Invisible,” and it talks about the grind: the frustrations of hearing your Fishtown doctor brag about their condo when you’ve lived in three different apartments in three years, but also working it to make your own way there, to find your own personal measure of success. It’s got a pretty sweet John Lennon vocal interpolation as the hook – at least that sounds like Lennon’s voice, and Rocca is a noted fan of the activistic Beatle. Grab your download of “Success Is Invisible” below.

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A UK production duo, an Atlanta experimental band and two Philly rappers make “Machina”

machina-v3-003-1_0

Today, we’ve got a very interesting release from none60 records. As The Deli reported earlier, UK duo Silent Dust worked Atlanta with experimental rock group Cloudeater to produce this chilled-out electronic track.  The song features vocals from Cloudeater as well as back-and-forth rapping from Philly MCs Zilla Rocca and Curly Castro.  This patchwork group makes for some dark electronic tones full of ancient historic references in this good-girl-gone-bad track.  How this crew came together is a mystery, but here’s hoping they do more collaborations in the future.  Check out the single “Machina” below.

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Download the new album, 52pickUPbeetz, from hip-hop producer Arckatron

arkatron
Yesterday our pal Zilla Rocca grabbed our attention when he tweeted about local hip-hop producer Arckatron. Born Shawn Kelly, the beat manipulator grew up in Jersey but moved to Philly to go to school at Temple. You can read an in-depth article with him here, but definitely download (for free) Ark’s new 52pickUPbeetz below. It’s filled with crafty samples and beats that draws on reggae, old soul, Dilla styled beats, fusion funk and just about everything in the digital kitchen sink. This crate digger and sound architect has got some serious skills.

Go to Ark’s soundcloud here for more beats.

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Philly rapper Zilla Rocca covers The Beatles “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer,” plays Dobbs tonight

ZillaNot only is Philly MC Zilla Rocca skilled at kickin’ wicked rhymes of his own creation, he’s a master of interpretation and extrapolation, from his choice of sample material to his “covers.” See his Wu-Tang Pulp project with Curly Castro and Has-Lo. See also this cover of “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer” by The Beatles, which appears on his Weak Stomach EP, released this week. Listen below. And catch Zilla tonight when he plays upstairs at The Legendary Dobbs at 11 p.m.