Hip-hop producer Knxwledge pulls in influences from 90s R&B to the Philly rap battle DVD era with new album 1988 - WXPN
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Dropping 95 releases over the past eleven years via Bandcamp, Central Jersey’s own Glen Earl Boothe — better known as producer Knxwledge — has earned a reputation for being able to grab the ears of the masses by mixing hard hip-hop and smooth, soulful R&B. That pulse returns in Knxwledge’s new album 1988 where, in the midst of his soulful bravado project, the producer continues to pay homage to the inspiration he got from the music coming at him from the city across the Ben Franklin Bridge.

In 2015, Knxwledge signed to indie record label Stones Throw, where he would drop his debut album Hud Dreams and meet hip hop soul singer Anderson .Paak. The two formed a duo called NxWorries and created the single “Suede,” which also caught the ear of hip hop legendary producer Dr. Dre. Later that year, Knxwledge would find himself producing a track called “Momma” for hip hop artist Kendrick Lamar’s Grammy Award-winning and critically acclaimed album To Pimp a Butterfly.

In 2016, NxWorries would release their critically acclaimed debut album Yes Lawd where the duo shined together perfectly like Eric B and Rakim, DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince, Missy Elliott and Timbaland and Gang Starr. Since then, Knxwledge has continued to let the pulse of his groove permeate through his projects by either mixing his beats with rap and R&B verses from a variety of artists such as Ghostface Killah, Ari Lennox, Alicia Keys, Styles P, Rihanna, Jay Z, Mary J Blige, G Herbo, and more, or letting the track roll solo and rock out as just an instrumental.

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1988 is a project filled with head-bopping instrumentals that allow its listeners to catch a variety of vibes. You can chill to it, kick back and light one, work to it, zone out, and make an MC want to play with words to it. The color of the album feels like a smokey, soulful black, similar to its cover. Throughout the album, Knxwledge experiments with different sounds like eerie horns, haunting piano keys and relaxing guitar strings. A musical blend of the late 80s and early 90s R&B samples that give it a nostalgic feeling, a dash of reggae, an ounce of chopped and screwed bits, accompanied by soul samples that ultimately give off a 1970’s heroine flow. 1988 only has five guest appearances, showing that sometimes the best way to appreciate the beat is without words. 

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A small dose of NxWorries appears in 1988, as Anderson .Paak is featured on “Itkanbe[Sonice].” Singers Durand Bernarr and Rose Gold make an appearance on the final track “Minding_My Business,” which reminds listeners that his instrumentals can still make dope songs. Knxwledge creates skits throughout 1988 that allows producer to talk heavy as if he is the rapper. The remaining two features consist of verses pulling from Philly’s old battle rap scene — his way of saluting the musical influence coming from City of Brotherly Love. 

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Whether it’s soulful R&B or rugged bars that came from the battle rap DVD era, Knxwledge has always shown love for music that came out of Philadelphia. Throughout his career, he shows how Philly has been a watering hole of inspiration to him. The city’s own hip hop star Meek Mill and soul singer Musiq Soulchild are the only two artists that he has built projects around, releasing two series of digital EPs for each, pairing their voices with his beats.

In 1988 Knxwledge, made sure to show respect to the once-famous Philly rap battle DVD era, where a young, raw, hungry, Meek Mill appears on “Watchwhoukallyourhomie” while Philly vet Vodka slides on “Believeme” with his smooth gutter charisma. Maybe it’s like his own way of saying rap lyrics from Philadelphia inspired him to make the beats that he makes.

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In the end, Knxwledge does a good job making his pulse felt with new album 1988. A perfect collection for a listener to catch a vibe to his/her choosing. And the best part is that music coming from Philadelphia played a role in its creation.  Listen to Knxwledge’s new album 1988 below.

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