John Morrison’s Philly Top 5: July highlights from Attia Taylor to Wrecking Crew - WXPN
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Attia Taylor’s Space Ghost release show at Johnny Brenda’s

On July 7th, I got to pop out to Johnny Brenda’s for the release party for Attia Taylor’s debut album, Space Ghost. The show opened with a lovely set by Taylor’s Strange Parts bandmates, Corey Carris Duncan on vocals and guitar and Chris Acree on drums. Corey’s tunes were sweet and dreamy and Emily Carris Duncan joined the set for an adorable song about the joys of smoking weed. When Taylor took the stage playing organ and singing beautifully, Space Ghost’s songs came alive, bursting with color and rooted in a very real tenderness.

Danger Mouse & Black Thought – “Aquamarine (feat Michael Kiwanuka)”

With its sweeping strings and a crunchy drum break, “Aquamarine” is the latest single from Black Thought and Danger Mouse’s forthcoming album, Cheat Codes. Michael Kiwanuka sets it off with a haunting chorus of “Everything’s burning down…enemies all around.” Black Thought enters the forefront with a blistering opening verse. Spinning together words in his signature open-ended style, the verse touches on history, war, depression and spirituality. Danger Mouse and Black Thought was not a pairing that I would’ve predicted, but Danger Mouse’s bold, ornate producton works well with Black Thought’s dense wordplay. I can’t wait to hear Cheat Codes to see how they play together over the course of a full album.

Danger Mouse and Black Thought - Aquamarine

Cosmic Kev – I’m About to Set It

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again here: Polo Rican is the best account on YouTube. With a veritable treasure trove of old school hip hop mixtapes ripped straight from cassette, you can get lost for hours streaming classic 90s street mixtapes from NYC legends like Ron G, Mister Cee, Jazzy Joyce, DJ Clue and others. Needless to say that I was delighted to peep that Polo Rican had uploaded 1998’s I’m About To Set It mixtape from Philly’s own DJ Cosmic Kev. Cory Ak holds down the intro with a rhyme about Philly’s DJ culture and hip hop history and Kev rips through a high-octane mix of cuts like DMX “Fuckin with D” and NORE’s “Super Thug.” The energy on this tape is high and Kev’s cuts are razor sharp, presenting a perfect snapshot of what Philly rap radio and clubs sounded like right before the turn of the millennium.

Cosmic Kev - Im About To Set It (1998)

Wrecking Crew – Sedale Threat

Four-man rap collective, Wrecking Crew wield 90s NBA references like the WuTang did 70s Chinese cinema. PremRock, Small Professor, Curly Castro and Zilla Rocca’s latest release, Sedale Threat is not only littered with shout outs to forgotten hoopers, the album is driven by the crew’s fly wordplay and production that is hard as nails.  Reef the Lost Cauze and ALASKA show up and wreck shit on “Atom Kief” and Casual of Hieroglyphics smokes “Behemoth,” a song where Castro stands out with an absolutely harrowing verse. Upon first listen, I immediately realized why Sedale Threat feels so good to me. The album perfectly captures the joy of a group of dudes rhyming together, sharing obscure references, inside jokes and one-upping each other with skill and poise.

All Love Block Party at Sunflower Philly

With vendors, games and a dope lineup of Philly’s best DJs, the All Love Block Party was great. Hosted at Sunflower Philly (seriously one of the flyest summer venues in the city), the homies The Bul Bey, and DJ Aura played earlier in the day and I got to catch late DJ sets from a trio of Philly legends, Matthew Law, DJ Sega and DJ Damage. A perfect Saturday afternoon block party jam.

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