Artist Profile: Freddy Guwap

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Artist Profile: Wes Phili

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I had the pleasure of chopping it up with local independent rapper Wes Phili on how he’s been, where he’s been, and what went into his debut album Black Flower.

First of all, how old are you, tell me about where you are from, and what kind of influence where you are from has had on your music.

26, from North Philly. Grew up seeing both sides of the fence. Divorced parents; Mother, a lawyer who would eventually move to a more quiet area just outside of Philly. Father, a working man living in one of North Philly`s several hoods. My music comes from my experiences growing up in both, along with having lived in NYC in my later teens & early 20s. Philly is an MC`s mecca…long history of battle rap and great lyricists just like its brother NYC. Reppin Philly is askin for that torch…and by default you can’t be weak on a mic if you wanna carry that…bein nice at ya craft is showin respect to those that paved the way for you.

What kind of hip-hop scene, if any, were you exposed to growing up?

“The Infamous” by Mobb Deep was the first album I ever owned. That was my introduction to rap as a kid…and I was hooked. From there, I then moved on to albums like “Illmatic”, “Enter the 36 Chambers”, “OB4CL”….and the rest was history.

You said recently you are in Japan for the time being, tell me a little bit about what you’re up to, and what the change has been like.

I came out here just for a change of scenery to help me reflect on my life and figure out what I really wanted to do with it. Felt like I was in a bubble back home, and I needed to get outta that and find a place of solitude away from everything familiar, where I could breathe and think clearly.  Still a working man, but my free time is almost entirely spent on perfecting my craft.  The goal being to live completely off my music soon.

In a sentence or less, how would you describe your style?

Eclectic… I`m a little a bit of everything and future releases will reflect that.

Who do you listen to music-wise? and who has inspired you? Hip hop related or not.

I listen to anything and everything. If it sounds good, I`ll listen to it; regardless of genre. Recently though, my playlist has been filled with a lot of Roc Marciano, Mick Jenkins, Mach Hommy, (Illmatic – I Am… era) Nas, Lupe Fiasco, and Black Thought. All of these MCs have elite pens, and you can learn something different from listening to each. No matter how much I improve, I`ll always be a student of the game.

You said it took about a year to complete Black Flower. When you first started did you intend for it to take that long?

Absolutely. I like to take my time when making music in general…and doubly so with Black Flower. Black Flower was me really challenging myself lyrically and content-wise. In my opinion, storytelling is what separates your average artist from your truly great ones…and instead of doing that with just one track, I wanted to challenge myself to do it throughout an entire album. One single story told throughout 10 tracks. A lot of effort went into this project, and I feel my penmanship grew with each track I wrote.

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What does your writing process look like? I.e., medium, ambiance, company etc.

Complete solitude. I lock myself in my room and tune out everything around me, focusing only on what`s directly in front of me.  There`s an interesting story from Nas`s early career about how he went “missing” for a day or so. He was found in a room that he rented just for writing, with papers filled with rhymes and verses scattered everywhere and all that. I`m not much different.

What goals, if any, did you have going into the creation of Black Flower, and do you think you achieved those goals?

No grand goals or schemes…I just wanted to test myself, tell a story, and create a listening experience as best as I could. If the end result attracted an audience & fanbase, cool. If it didn`t, also cool. This was more for me to experiment with my artistry and push my boundaries further. Do I feel I accomplished that? Absolutely.

How do you feel about how it’s been received thus far?

I`m pleased. I haven`t really been heavily promoting the album or anything I`ve done to keep it real… I`ll just finish something and if I like how it sounds I`ll put it out there, then will move directly onto the next thing. I`m assuming most are finding out about the album through word of mouth, and the feedback I`ve been getting back has been entirely positive. This just motivates me to continue taking my time to make sure everything I release continues to be of quality.

Tell me about your relationship with JLVSN, and how you two worked together to put together an album like this.

JLVSN is the god and is one of the most talented producers out there by far. He reached out to me letting me know he was feeling my sound, and proceeded to send me pure heat. Everything he sent me I connected with instantly, and knew immediately I was going to make an album with dude. Much more will be coming from us both soon.

What was the process behind choosing samples and some of the theme-central intros/outros?

I`m a film addict and I wanted to do something with that…so I decided to make a film through music. Once I had an idea in mind for the story I wanted to tell, knowing what to use for the skits came naturally.  As for the samples, I knew what vibes and feelings I wanted the listener to experience on each track, so it was just about choosing samples that could bring those to light.

Only two features on the album, but Heem Stogied and Estee Nack definitely stood their ground, tell me a little about your relationship with these two, and how these features came about.

I first heard Heem Stogied on one of Mach Hommy`s earlier joints and thought dude was ill. So, I went on to check out his King Stogied Dump Gawd tape and was like damn…. dude raw as hell. Whole style from the flow, energy (unmatched here), cadence, and lyrics…all the coldest shit man.

I got put onto Estee Nack from the knowledge god Nick Gauder (fadeawaybarber). Listened to a few tracks of his on SoundCloud and was like yo…his talent is ridiculous. The rhyme schemes, unorthodox flows…there’s layers to his shit man…and those adlibs…no words man shit crazy.

They both came through and were perfect fits for the album.

How did you link up with Camouflage Monk? He has an insanely elite group of collaborators and you seem to fit right in skill-wise.

Camouflage Monk is God…you know it, your friends know it, and anyone else that`s up to speed with the renaissance going on in hip hop right now knows it. No doubt he`ll be revered in the same respects as Knxwledge, Madlib, and the likes real soon. I reached out to him and had him check out a track I did with Nicholas Craven (another god) and he was feeling it so we connected. Expect more from him & I soon too.

Based off some of the really personal songs on this album like What A Man Wants it seems like despite having been through a lot of strife, you have evolved to a very pragmatic outlook on everything. Speak on that a little.

“What A Man Wants” is the most personal song I`ve ever written. A lot of that song drew from previous relationships I`ve experienced, and in particular, touched on some feelings that I never got a chance to share with my woman that I loved, who had passed away in the middle of me making the album. Took a lot to write that song and finish it. It had my own personal experiences mixed with the story I was telling on the album.

On songs like Heist! You do some really quality storytelling, which has become a less followed path as of more recent times, what inspires you to do so?

The challenge of doing it. Storytelling without sacrificing lyricism…and by that I`m referring to all the similes…metaphors…entendres etc. that are a trademark of hip hop. Making a story interesting but easy to follow while still maintaining a certain level of wordplay ain`t an easy feat…and learning how to do that was a difficult but enjoyable process

What is your favorite song on the album? 

High Tension is my personal favorite, then after that would probably be Pipe Dreams. High Tension, because as someone else put it, it`s got an abundance of “flavor”. Pipe Dreams because it takes me back to that old The Infamous & Hell On Earth era Mobb Deep sound.

Will you be returning to Philly anytime soon? What’s the first thing you’re going to do when you get back?

Definitely… that’s home. Cliché but likely grab me a good Philly Cheese Steak…been a while…damn.

What can we expect in terms of future releases, collaborations etc.?

Big things…and I mean BIG things starting this year and going into next. Both in the underground scene and outside of it.  A massive release with THE ONE AND ONLY God sorcerer Evilldewer, and a few high-level collabs. Stay tuned.

Any shows?

Absolutely. Plan on making a few trips back to do some shows around the end of this year and throughout the next. Maybe even sooner if the bag is right.

Thank you for the interview and the music Wes Phili, looking forward to what you have in store.

Appreciate your time king. Peace to you, and salute.

 

 

Listen to Black Flower here: https://wesphili.bandcamp.com/releases.  

Instagram: @wesphili

Twitter: @wes_phili

Off the Shelf–WIDE AWAKE! by Parquet Courts

A quick preface from the editor:

At WKDU we receive new music every week from a huge variety of labels. We keep all of our new releases in our main control room (the room out of which our DJs do their thing) on our “New Music Shelf”.  Our DJs pull from this shelf quite often, because our goal is to serve you the freshest underground cuts–FDA certified 100% organic, grass-fed, farm to table, FRESH. With “Off the Shelf”, our goal is to dive deeper than ever into our “New Music Shelf” favorites, and to share our thoughts with our community. Here’s hoping we inspire you to check out something NEW.

Wide Awake

By Matt Squires

Parquet Courts’ new album, Wide Awake!, is a diverse collection of raw rock and rolls sounds, familiar to the American ear, yet unique and refreshing. The production is minimalistic, to focus the listener on the melodic and rhythmic aspects of the songs, which are undeniably catchy. The vocals are raw with minor imperfections as if performed in a live setting.

“Total Football” kicks off the album with a classic rock style sharp slow chord progression. Soon the beat speeds up and the bass riff kicks, forcing the listener to bounce back and forth, a feeling used many times on this album including, “Almost Had to Start a Fight/In and Out of Patience” and “Extinction”. Growly vocals are introduced, seemingly untrained and raw, their voices fit the aesthetic perfectly. This riveting intro song ends like the streets of Philadelphia after the 2018 super bowl, “F___ Tom Brady!!”.

“Violence” shows the more serious side of this album. Smooth groovy rhythms and catchy riffs over a yelling monologue until coming in with the chorus “violence is daily life.” Parquet Courts makes their way around the genre spectrum while maintaining the same production aesthetic with the slowed jam, “before the water gets too high”.  The repeating riff is memorizing and the organ-sounding synth chords hold the song together.

Next stop on this journey is a flashback to 90s alternative rock. Sounding like Pavements “Range Life”, “Mardi Gras Beads” takes the album to very familiar place. The smooth lush reverb-filled verse contrasts with the rigid power chords that come in the chorus creating a rich texture. “Almost had to start a fight” channels the bands Proto-Punk aesthetic with riffs sounding like MC5, the vocals match the rhythm to create a concrete, energetic jam. Merging into “In and out of Patience” with the phrase “If it stops i’m having a bad dream”, the pattern changes, putting another involuntary step in the foot of the listener.

The aptly named, “Freebird 2”, lives up to its name talking about drugs and getting older with pentatonic blues scales. The title song, “Wide Awake” combines a groovy bass riff with a dance party vibe. The use of Auxiliary percussion on this track makes it stand out from the others. A straight rhythm blues jam ends the album out with a piano melody doubling the vocals, making for an upbeat vibe. The chord progression is a mixture of simple chords and unusually dissonant chords that give an excellent texture to this familiar groove.

Parquet Courts have maintained their progressive classic rock style. Innovative yet so familiar and easy to latch on to, this album is an instant classic filled with songs that capture the last 50 years of rock music. 

Week in Review–August 13-17

The week of August 13th was overwhelmingly busy from a music lover’s perspective. While every week contains a multitude of new releases and announcements of new music, this week was a dream for any fan in the indie and underground music world. In case you happened to miss anything, we’ve compiled a review of last […]

13th

 

The week of August 13th was overwhelmingly busy from a music lover’s perspective. While every week contains a multitude of new releases and announcements of new music, this week was a dream for any fan in the indie and underground music world. In case you happened to miss anything, we’ve compiled a review of last week’s most relevant announcements and drops. Our review spans multiple genres and scenes, so chances are, you’ll find something new that you can bop to. Check it out below.

Album Releases

mewithoutYou – Untitled EP
Mitski – Be The Cowboy
Trevor Powers – Mulberry Violence

Album Announcements

Cloud Nothings – Last Building Burning (October 19, 2018)
Daughters – You Won’t Get What You Want (October 26, 2018)
Ian Sweet – Crush Crusher (October 26, 2018)
It Looks Sad – Sky Lake (November 2, 2018)
Justus Proffit and Jay Som – Nobody’s Changed EP (September 28, 2018)
mewithoutYou – Untitled LP (October 5, 2018)
Saves The Day – 9 (October 26, 2018)
Say Anything – Oliver Appropriate (October 12, 2018)
Young Jesus – The Whole Thing Is Just There (October 12, 2018)

Song Premiers

Bosse De Nage – “My Shroud”
Cloud Nothings – “The Echo Of The World”
Daughters – “The Reason They Hate Me” 
The Field – “Who Goes There”
Fucked Up – “Normal People”
It Looks Sad – “Light”
Ian Sweet – “Hiding”
Joyce Manor – “Think I’m Still In Love With You”
Lonely Parade – “Olive Green”
Low – “Disarray” 
Madeline Kenney – “Overhead”
mewithoutYou – “Julia (or ‘Holy To The Lord’ On The Bells Of Horses)”
Saintseneca – “Beast In The Garden”
Saves The Day – “Rendezvous”
Say Anything – “Daze”
Swearin’ – “Untitled (LA)”
The Spirit Of The Beehive – “D.O.U.B.I.E.U.R.O.N.G”
Young Jesus – “Deterritory”

OSHUN in West Philly

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Photo via Oshuniverse.com

On Saturday the thirteenth of January , Niambi and Thandiwe Sala and producer/DJ, Proda, walked in succession down the back stairs of a West Philly basement, to the front of an eager crowd. like foreign envoys Back in 2015 in an interview with Complex, the two explained that Oshun is the Yoruban deity after whom the project is named. “A West African, traditional deity, she’s a goddess, and she governs over sweet waters.” She’s a mother of love, fertility, wealth and diplomacy”.

Their presence expressed this vividly. From the time they walked towards the stage, until they took photos and thanked their fans after the conclusion, the air was full of love. Afrofuturism stands as the core value and inspiration for the group’s art. In fact, “love for [their] people and for serving and enlightening their people” is what brought the two together, when they first formed Oshun back in the freshman dorms at NYU. On Saturday these philosophies spread through the venue like a spell. In an audience comprised of primarily black/brown persons, the occasion was best described by Oshun themselves; a celebration.

The two wore matching camo jumpsuits, bronze crowns, and bronze tops which swirled over their bodies in winding patterns. Once the “takeoff sound” (a glittery, space-sound like something that would come from The Powerpuff Girls) was played, the beginning of a collective voyage into the “Oshuniverse” began. They began with a few track off of their upcoming series Bittersweet, before moving to songs from AFAHYE and ASASE YAA. With “Parts”, the two wielded a kind of sweet but powerful energy throughout the crowd. From the delicate emotional depths of Sango, to more energetic and beat driven tracks like “Blessings on Blessings”, they proved that every track in the discography is drenched in meaning. Their defiance and strength was expressed through sweetness and love; a testament to the paradoxical spectrum of a narrative which is too often flattened in our society.

With standout tracks like “Not my President”, both showcased their gifts for vocal improve, sounding better, and hitting runs more impressive than those than their recordings. The track included metal-inspired guitar riffs to replace the more jazz-like trumpet solo featured at the end of the original recording. As many genres as Oshun fits together in their music, producer Proda managed spread this idea throughout the set to add more energy to the performance.

Now that Niambi and Thandiwe are graduated from school, they have been able to create their album series Bittersweet, and embark on a two-month tour throughout Canada and the United States. A sort of Neosoul/Hip-Hop infusion, their music draws heavily on reggae, and multiplicitous forms of traditional African/root music. Mixing these sounds with progressive production and otherworldly sound effects/design, the Oshun’s art ends up somewhat like an enormously expensive musical history lesson/divination session. The two frequently express the spiritual nature of their goals and purpose in interviews and press. At their West Philly performance on Saturday they brought a message of peace and healing to a well deserving crowd.