Sometimes it's easy to forget just how huge Philadelphia is. With thousands of emcees, hundreds of DJs and several events going on at any given night, it's easy to miss some good things. Here at Phrequency, we feel your frustration, which is why we hand pick ten events, emcees, DJs and places you need to make sure you check out. If you want to thank us, we accept beer.
With a tagline of “The most ill, the most raw, the most authentic,” The Gathering is one of Philadelphia's only events that successfully merges all four elements of hip-hop. B-boys, b-girls, DJs, writers and emcees get their shine on every last Thursday of the month at the Rotunda in West Philadelphia. The long running event was established in 1996, and each month is slightly different. A few things remain constant: DJs spin records while b-boys take the floor and show off their moves, then midway through the night, a featured emcee gets to rock a set for the crowd. After this, an open mic cypher takes place on the main stage, before attention is shifted back to the b-boys. There's also a nice big wall for all the graf artists to tag up. The event is all ages, all city, and for only a dollar at the door, it's well worth clearing your schedule for.
Arguably the best emcee in Philadelphia not named Black Thought, Reef The Lost Cauze is a cut above the typical rhyme sayer. Combining battle honed lyrics with a great ear for beats and the ability to write a coherent song, Reef is the type of artist that many emcees aspire to be. Although relatively young at 26 years old, the emcee has released three projects to date with The High Life, Invisible Empire and Feast or Famine with a fourth dropping at the end of October. Part of the Philly based supergroup the Army of The Pharaohs, Reef has worked with some of the East Coasts greatest underground artists such Chief Kamachi, Vinnie Paz and 7L & Esoteric. This, combined with touring overseas and winning countless battles has made Reef a monster on the mic. With his latest effort, A Vicious Cycle, set for release on October 28th, 2008, Reef will once again show the world that it's possible to be a talented battler and be able to make records that bump.
Ill with the beats and ill with the rhymes, Hezekiah's talents behind the board or with the mic in hand separate him from the pack in Philadelphia's crowded hip-hop scene. With a resume that includes being a huge contributer to the Beat Society project as well as working with greats such as Bahamadia, Musiq, Bilal and Grand Agent, the Delaware born musician has undeniable talent. Besides his rhyming and producing skills, he can also sing and play guitar, often incorporating both elements into his beats. With his well received debut album, Hurry Up And Wait, in 2005 and follow up I Predict a Riot in 2007, Hezekiah's dynamic and varied talents have made him an artist who is definitely worth checking out.
Hip-hop's influence in the world of fashion has been constant since Run-DMC dropped their famous ode to “the brand with the 3 stripes”, and when heads in Philly want to look their best, there aren't many better places to go than UBIQ. With locations at 15th and Walnut and The Gallery, the urban boutique is three floors of heaven for anyone with a sneaker fetish, or an eye for the artistic. From everything to the average dunk and Chuck Taylor to more extravagant customs and rare vintage kicks, you're pretty much guaranteed to find something at the store. If sneakers aren't your thing, you can find tees, hoodies and accessories of all kinds from brands such as Mishka, The Hundreds and Obey. Not only that, but the shop often serves as the site of some pretty cool events, such as last August's release of the ?uestlove x Nike 1World Air Force 1.
An incredible party has been taking place every Saturday at South Philadelphia's Fluid Night Club since 2001. Thrown by local promotor and artist, Stacy “Flyygirl” Wilson, and featuring the talents of DJs Mike Nyce and ?uestlove (when not on tour), Tastytreats is one of the premier parties for hip-hop heads to get down to some of their favorite songs. Of course the musical range isn't limited to just one genre, as funk, rhythm and blues, house and reggae all get spun as well, hip-hop fans might get a little misty eyed seeing crowds dance to jams like “Luck of Lucien” or “93 Til' Infinity”. Definitely not a vibe you'll in the city's typically radio friendly club scene, Tastytreats is a welcoming alternative for heads who want to party and still hear good music. Ladies get in free before 11:00pm and the dress code is always relaxed.
With a live show that packs any venue they play, Philadelphia Slick has been generating a strong buzz since the band formed in 2005. Already knocking out one studio release in the form of the 2007's Culture Industry, the hip-hop band has made a name for its self through socially conscious and hard hitting lyrics from emcees Noeisis and Mike Tjader. The two on top of a band that features as many as ten musicians on stage at once makes for one of the best acts in the city, especially compared to the host of rhymers that just spit over instrumental CDs. When the words hip-hop band are mentioned in Philadelphia, the initial reaction has always been “Oh, you mean The Roots.” Philadelphia Slick is well on their way to expanding people's minds with that one.
Affectionately known as PedX, this South Philly clothing store has a little something for everyone. Specializing in extremely dope tees, the shop located right of South St. at 526 S. 3rd St., is home to some of the coolest items any hip-hop head could want. From magazines, to hats, to select CDs, PEDESTRiAN packs a lot of goodness into a relatively small area. Like UBIQ, the spot is known to host the occasionally event, from art galleries to shows (and sometimes a combination of both). If tat wasn't enough. there are also treats for writers at the spot. Urban artists can find all the tools needed for throw ups, burners and simple tags. Just remember not to rack the cans.
In hip-hop, and especially underground hip-hop, emcees linking up with producers to make incredible music is nothing new. Kweli and High-Tek did it with Train of Thought, Blu and Exhile did it with Below the Heavens and MF DOOM and Madlib did it with Madvillainy. Emcee Dave Ghetto and producer The S Ence have continued this tradition with their September 2008 release, Hustle Simmons. The album, which is also the name the duo goes by, is incredibly produced and wonderfully realized entry on the list of great, local 2008 releases. In a great showing of Philly supporting Philly, you can grab Hustle Simmons at PEDESTRiAN.
The Zodiac is a monthly party celebrating astrological signs and is also one of the best places to go jam to your favorite hip-hop hits. Held down by two of the best DJs in town, Nex Millen and DJ Roxy, this party takes place every second Friday of the month at Medusa Lounge at 21st and Chestnut. Whatever sign being celebrated gets in for free, and everyone else pays only five dollars at the door. With hosts and guests DJs rotating monthly, each month is slightly different from the others, but always a good time.
The Illvibe Collective is one of the best DJ crews in Philadelphia, and DJ Lil' Dave is one of the groups most talented members. Dave can be seen and heard pretty much everywhere in Philly. From playing break beats for b-boys at The Gathering, to head nodding hip-hop between sets at live shows to Illvibe's monthly party Bodyrock party, Dave gets around and brings his great sets and superb mixing with him. Whenever and wherever you see Dave, know he'll probably play something that will have you scrambling to the DJ booth and asking “what was that last one?” Don't worry; he gets that a lot.