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

Zilla Rocca | Photo via
Zilla Rocca | Photo via

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.


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.


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

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.


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


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.


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

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.


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.


Tonight’s Concert Picks: Zilla Rocca at PhilaMOCA, XPN Welcomes The Amazing with Market East to MilkBoy

Local emcee Zilla Rocca will take the stage at PhilaMOCA for The Key’s second Tuesday Tune-Out tonight.  Getting his start as one-half of rap duo 5 O’Clock Shadowboxers, Rocca welded his passion for film noir with his passion for hip hop to create his own “noir-hop” solo material.  On each of his releases, from last year’s Party Like Villains to the collaborative Wu-Tang Pulp effort, Rocca samples clips from and makes references to film noir and pulp fiction from the ’40s and ’50s.  Rocca will follow-up tonight’s Tune-Out set with a screening of a 2005 dark comedy starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt.  For more information and to RSVP, visit the Facebook event page.  Watch Zilla Rocca’s video for “Full Spectrum” below.

Continue reading →


The Week So Far: 14 must-read stories on The Key

Download B.C. Camplight‘s BBC Radio 6 session featuring two new songs [link]

Juston Stens and the Get Real Gang bring rock and soul to their Key Session [link]

Listen to Free Energy‘s new album Love Sign at Consequence of Sound [link]

Thrash out with a new Surgeon track; they play Kung Fu Necktie next month [link]

The collaboration between Ground Up and The Lawsuits continues in a HotBox session [link]

David Bowie releases a new single for his birthday [link]

Chill Moody releases his latest album, RFM [link]

Get psyched for Zilla Rocca‘s Tuesday Tune-Out with his new Wrecking Crew video [link]

Download The Key Studio Sessions Vol. 6, our new 17-song compilation [link]

Stream the new album from The Lone Bellow, a Georgia-bred close harmony trio [link]

Stream a new EP from Philly’s Acres of Diamonds, who play PhilaMOCA next week [link]

Plow United announces the details of their all-ages album-release show at The Barbary [link]

Download Anais Mitchell‘s Folkadelphia session [link]

The WXPN Philly Local Show expands to three hours [link]


Watch a new music video for The Wrecking Crew’s “Scallops” (Zilla Rocca plays The Key’s Tuesday Tune-Out on 1/15)

A sweet cinematic music video appeared from The Wrecking Crew today – that’s Philly rappers Zilla Rocca, Has-Lo and Curly Castro, assembled in force to pay homage to the Wu-Tang Clan with their Wu-Tang Pulp project. The clip for “Scallops” plays out like a supernatural heist film; Has is a would-be hit-man being interrogated by a group of intense assassins; Castro is the member of his crew whose telepathic powers save the day, while Zilla drives the getaway car out of the Celebre’s Pizza parking lot. Watch it below, and catch Zilla Rocca next Tuesday the 15th of January when he plays The Key’s Tuesday Tune-Out at PhilaMOCA. Information on the show can be found here.


The Key’s Year-End Mania: Zilla Rocca’s top five verses of 2012 (b/w recommended watering holes)

For The Key’s year-in-review, we asked our trusted sources – our writers and photographers, XPN’s on-air staff, fellow bloggers in the Philly scene and even a few musicians – to send us their Top Five Whatevers. Could be the traditional music route – albums, songs, concerts of the year – or it could be only loosely connected. We’ll be sharing these recaps every day through to the end of the year. Today, Philly rapper Zilla Rocca shares his top five verses of the year, and also makes a few suggestions for Philly watering holes, whether your poison is beer or cocktails.

Zilla Rocca’s top 5 verses of 2012

1. Kendrick Lamar “Good Kid
2. Nas “Loco-Motive
3. Roc Marciano “Tek to a Mack
4. Killer Mike “Reagan
5. Aesop Rock “Crows 2Continue reading →