Questlove, King Britt and more reflect on the birth of Back2Basics and neo-soul - WXPN
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Back2Basics reunion band with Questlove | Photo by John Vettese

In an article for Red Bull Music Academy Daily, Laurent Fintoni dug into the history of neo-soul in Philadelphia, a phenomenon that took off when a crew of now-legendary artists and producers (including Questlove, King Britt and Dozia Blakey) made a home at Silk City on Monday nights in the 90s. They called their live set / DJ clubnight experiment Back2Basics and created a breeding ground for R&B, soul and hip hop performers from around the world.

The article is both a history of the place and a history of the sound, as Fintoni talks with key Back2Basics players about what drew them to the Northern Liberties restaurant-venue and what grew out of it:

Good business is about creating opportunity where others see none. But around 25 years ago few people saw much opportunity in Northern Liberties, a rough neighborhood tucked north of Philadelphia’s Old City. So when New Yorkers Paul Devitt and Joey Maritato bought Silk City Diner, you would have been hard-pressed to imagine it would end up becoming “ground zero for creative music in Philadelphia,” according to Grammy Award-winning musician Aaron Levinson. Yet that’s exactly what happened when two young DJs – King Britt and Dozia Blakey – created Back2Basics, a home for tasteful, era-spanning selections and live jam sessions that birthed the neo-soul sound.

The Back2Basics founders had a family reunion of sorts in 2014, though the stage was the Hard Rock Cafe rather than Silk City.

Read more about that here and read the full RedBull Music Academy story here.

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