[First Friday] Women on the Rise Event + Til Dawn Playlist

-Joe Pitts (@headtowall)

Every First Friday in Philadelphia is a packed night of art (and beer and food) throughout the city, and this coming First Friday Novum Ent & Shak Mcclary are presenting the Women on the Rise showcase at Open Space hosted by Hot 97's Scottie Beam. Featuring art and live music as well as free food, the monthly show series is a popular event at the gallery located at the edge of Northern Liberties. Tickets are available here. To coincide with the event, the guys at Novum have curated an accompanying smooth playlist titled "Til Dawn". Click the cover to peep below: 

Perfect Heat, Perfect Rhythm: A Night with LCD Soundsystem at the Inaugural Panorama Festival

-Adam Isaac Itkoff (@adamitkoff)

 
It’s the type of day where heat can make the moment feel like molasses, movement yes, but at a fraction of the pace. All the better to watch the world spin slowly enough to pick up the extra detail; particulate and dust picking up off the pavement, sweeping clouds that dissolve into soft fractals and finally, nothing at all. One of those sprawling summer days where doing nothing feels like doing something and doing something is fucking exhausting. They’ll advise you to slather yourself with SPF-something sunscreen and drink water until you can hear a healthy whooshing while you walk. But an all-inclusive media pass to Panorama Festival is more than enough to tempt the heat, it’s Sunday morning and LCD Soundsystem will be headlining the festival come 9PM…

I pile a few things into my backpack and head to Brooklyn’s central artery: The L train will deliver me to Manhattan before the day begins to peak in perfect heat, the sun burning tirelessly and strung against an arch in the sky.

                                           Look At Wrist

                                           Look At Wrist

A water bottle that’s sweating profusely, a phone charger and two .45mm ink pens in case my iPhone buckles. That and a crumpled press pass with a single barcode will grant me the coveted press band, allowing me entry to most of Randall’s Island, save a few backstage loading areas. Days like this are always teeming with subject; I’ll take notes feverishly until the language starts to blur, transcribing sounds and sights with enough detail to bleed right through the page.

I’d sent and received a flurry of emails right before the festival, a regular press-clusterfuck as managers looked to lock-in performance coverage and media looked for one-on-one’s and quotes. While connecting with A$AP’s management proved futile, I was approached by EDM heavyweights Flosstradamus, but had to decline interviewing them because of a scheduling conflict. On-site, I scurry from end to end of the festival, covering Flatbush Zombies, SZA, Run The Jewels and A$AP Rocky for The Source and ducking into adjacent dance venues when there’s 15 minutes or more in-between sets. The spaced-out house rhythms of TENSNAKE and sharp synths of Holy Ghost! served as the perfect antidote to Hip Hop exhaustion (WebMD refuses to acknowledge this ailment but I’m sure it’s a real thing) while a venue named “The Parlor” was kept perpetually pitch-black with air conditioning gushing from the vents, rendering it the best place to crack into a fresh beer and recharge. Now, like anything wild and celebratory, the pinnacle of the evening loomed in the air, especially as the sun began to set and the festival hit capacity. While each act had served their purpose, many attendees, including myself, once thought they would never have the chance to see LCD Soundsystem perform again after their breakup in 2011 and farewell show at Madison Square Garden. LCD Soundsystem isn’t just a typical band, their full orchestral backing maxes out around a dozen members and includes everything from synths and a vocoder to drum machines, piano and anything else needed to deliver wave after wave of disco-punk-indie-fusion. James Murphy, co-founder of DFA Records and equal part singer-songwriter, DJ and producer, has an uncanny ability to stir the listener into the soft comfort of lyrical hypnosis. He delivers self-referential cooing that elicits a feeling of camaraderie and type of communion that makes you want to reach out and hug him personally or at the very least, flail your limbs wildly from afar.

                                                                                       Photo by @psquaremedia

                                                                                       Photo by @psquaremedia

James is a special brand of bleeding heart. Maybe this can be attributed to his pudgy cheeks or a persistent stubble and frazzled look like he’s been up all night. He possesses a soft-spoken presence, apologizing for verbosity and working hurriedly to make sure he can perform all of the top tracks before the night draws to a close: “Daft Punk Is Playing At My House,” “Someone Great,” “Us v Them,” and of course, “New York, I Love You But You're Bringing Me Down” which plays out smugly when performed against a digital cityscape backdrop, superimposed in front of actual downtown Manhattan. LCD Soundsystem’s style is perpetually climactic with long, slow builds that grow and often loop with layers of percussion. Each note is teased out and calculated, so by the time the bass drops on “Dance Yrself Clean,” 10,000 people leap into the air in unison and don’t miss a beat.

His lyrics stand as a sort of testament to everything; the good and the bad, life and death, sex and all of the times you never even came close to getting laid. The track “All My Friends” has lines that resonate much like a good film does; all of life’s tribulations and affirmations looked dead in the eye and given a fat, wet kiss:

“And if the sun comes up, if the sun comes up, if the sun comes up
And I still don't wanna stagger home
Then it's the memory of our betters
That are keeping us on our feet

You spent the first five years trying to get with the plan
And the next five years trying to be with your friends again…”

There’s nostalgia in just about everything James Murphy writes, pinpointing the most ephemeral sensations and stirring them into anthems to belt out against the night sky. It’s the feeling of getting closer while still drifting further away, of having a dream that felt way more vivid than yesterday.

In many ways, he’s an ingenious lyricist, often riffing on society with a vulnerable, almost boyish simplicity which allows him to make songs titled “North American Scum” without alienating his fans. He also manages to pierce into the heart of issues that crop up time and time again. Sadly, “Us v Them” describes dichotomy in its rawest terms, but in doing so, alludes to everything from war to common political factions and global fragmentation:

“So it’s us versus them
Over and over again
Us versus them
Over and over again…”

When James Murphy sings, he leans into the microphone like he’s literally pouring his heart out into it, as if his mouth were a fountain and his microphone the basin. And still somehow, by the tail end of a two-hour performance, he doesn’t look all that much more tired than when he first stepped onstage.

In many ways the work of LCD Soundsystem brings a type of high-art to the world of pop and electronica. They pose more questions than they do answers, they provoke and they reward. By the time they finally ran into curfew and cut the amplifiers, James Murphy had stirred the crowd into sweaty, collective catharsis and the closest thing I’ve experienced to a mass meditation in New York City. Sure, a meditation with booze, weed and glow sticks, but collective union all the same. 

It’s only on the way home, once the music has cut out and the sound of sirens start to swell through city streets, that you feel your own nostalgia creeping in. The memory is what you’ve got now and you can’t help but wonder when you’ll feel it again.

 

Wara From the NBHD Drops New Visual 'Down Since Birth' Ft. Conner Youngblood

-Joe Pitts (@headtowall)

Atlanta-based rapper Wara from the NBHD is back with a new visual continuing the themes from his recent project 'If Guns Could Speak PSA'. The heavy, distorted bass and guitar work from Conner Youngblood compliments Wara's hard lines. Peep the visual below which finds Wara and crew  in an abandoned warehouse, followed by some entertaining imagery centered around the American flag:

[New Event] This Saturday's Reeblock Party to Feature the Best of Philly & NYC's Influencers, DJs and Artists (Plus a Ton of Free Kicks)

-Joe Pitts (@headtowall)

Cult Classic co-owner and Reebok Ambassador of Philadelphia Anthony Somebody of Quite Hype has curated one lit day party this Saturday at Open Space (1014 N. Marshall St) in Philadelphia. Featuring a dope lineup of Philly and NYC influencers, DJs and artists, this FREE party is one you really don't wanna miss. Plus, not to mention, we are giving away 100 Sneakers. Yea, that's right. So what the hell else are you doing on a Saturday afternoon? 

[New Event] The Lightning Strike Series Hits Philly This Friday Ft. Chuck Inglish & More: Interview with Host Tre Banks

-Joe Pitts (@headtowall)

I sat down with Lighning Strike series creator Tre Banks to talk about the upcoming Philly event. Peep the interview below:

Joe Pitts: Tell us about the Lightning Strike series and what you're bringing to Philly with it

Tre Banks: The Lightning Strike Series is a common experience infiltrating various markets along East Coast. It falls somewhere between a party and your favorite soundcloud song. Philly being my hometown, I wanted to make sure I stamped it with someone that inspired me just as much as growing up in this city did. 

Joe: How did you link with Chuck Inglish?

Tre: Been a major Cool Kids fan since High School, and been seeing Chuck rock a number of LA events through being a DJ. A good friend of mine DJ Alizay out of DC spins alongside Chuck, so he led me in right direction, to get the train running.

Joe: We're really intro talking and breaking new artists here at Cult Classic, so when I saw acts like Drogas and Presston are on the lineup--artists that we've covered on the blog before--I knew we had to be a part of the show series. Talk about some of the emerging talent on the lineup

Tre: Yeah, I love new and emerging energy. Especially because I see myself right beside them in my own pursuits, rather than being some type of gatekeeper type character. Drogas has been someone i've been wanting to work with for a while now, and the timing was perfect since he just turned 21 for a 21+ event haha. His presentation has always had cool vibe to it, so a situation involving Chuck seemed fitting. Presston is one of the reasons I even discovered The Cool Kids in high school, so this is like a full circle moment for us. He released a 3 track EP this week (which I hope we can get on here asap lol) , so it's good timing for his base of supporters. Nate Runnur is a new artist, but has a very cool and dope team around him. If they do what I think they can things will be big, and i'm glad to be giving him an early platform. Blakk Godz is a collective who has been on Philadelphia scene for while, and decided to come together to make individual movements stronger. Excited to see them pop out. 

The night is really about Tay Banga and DJ Vic B , because I need the party moving from start to finish. Both these guys are proven in their crowds, and I trust the vibe that will be created during the night. 

Joe: Where else is the Lightning Strike series hitting? 

Tre: #TLSseries will be in DC , NY , and Vermont also. Maybe a surprise city, but won't speak on it yet. 

Joe: Any last shout outs?

Tre: Thank you Bran and Looh for all the help making this a reality. Shoutout to the people who spread word about me creating an experience in their city before I even announced line-ups, just all off the initial flyer. That was a good feeling, and it's appreciated. Finally Thank you Joe and Cult Classic, for everything leading up to this article and including this article. Building a strong history with you guys, it's wild

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The Lightning Strike series comes to Philly this Friday at Pub Webb (1527 Cecil B. Moore) from 8:30-1AM featuring Chuck Inglish (DJ set), Tay Banga, DJ Vic B, Wewantdrogas, Presston,  Nate Runner and Blakk Godz

Quice London is Too Smooth on "GOMZ"

-Joe Pitts (@headtowall)

Philly's Quice London dropped a relaxed banger last month. The single "GOMZ" is smooth and sharp drawing comparison to J. Cole's ability to be both melodic and bouncy. And Quice's self-proclaimed style "conscious trap" fits the vibe of the song as trap snares drive the chill beat underneath Quice's singing and spitting. Peep the track below:

The Police-Community Relations Crisis of Modern America

-Joe Pitts (@headtowall)

The wretched radical needs only the faintest of reason, wantonly applied, to ignite his cause. Last night's horror in Downtown Dallas is a tragic reminder of this fact. News on the nature of the assailants will no doubt begin to pour in, and from this we will make vain attempts to understand. We will try to put the pieces together as if the Dallas shooting is some puzzle that can be solved. But within a broken system under a broken nation, there are no pieces that fit together. We are fractured. We are hurt. 

Today we mourn. We mourn those fallen officers in Texas. We mourn Alton Sterling, Philando Castile and the many others who have unnecessarily and unjustly lost their lives at the hands of the police. While this is not a time to weigh the severity of one tragedy over another, we must accept that a perennial problem of our time is police and community relations, particularly within the African American community. Going deeper, we must accept it is a problem of systemic, structural inequalities that have given rise to racist institutions. These institutions and the resentment towards them have in part fueled the violent feedback loop that has finally fed back into itself last night in Dallas.

In these dark times, the following months and the following years will be the true test of our resilience as the beacon of freedom for the world. We must find the compassion to look at those that are different from us and realize the complexity of what it means to live in America. Foremost, the magnifying glass must reside over the relationship between police and our communities. The air of antagonism is a taste we have all felt for some time. It is a breeze that started long ago and continues to grow, like the seeds of a destructive hurricane. When will it end? How will we push forward? There are no immediate answers that will make sense of these recent events, but one thing is for certain: reform on many levels is critical to a just future for our nation.

Peak Meme Hysteria & the Kevin Durant Odyssey

-Joe Pitts (@headtowall)

When the topic of social media came up at my family's annual 4th of July shit show and my 12 year-old cousin exclaimed, with various colorful condiments cascading from his chin, that he refused to make a Facebook account because "it's not cool anymore", I knew things were about to change. But until then we must bask in what may come to be our generation’s defining characteristic. No, not self-driving party busses, virtual reality porn parties, or keeping up with the Wests: I'm talking about internet memes. 

Sure, my little cousin and the rest of his fellow prepubescent rebels will one day acquire all of the cultural currency to utilize as they see fit, and we can hope they will return to form—that is, form of substance, but before that we must embrace the Dark Ages of Memedom. So dive into Twitteronia, fire up that Photoshop knockoff and embrace your inner shallow satire. Produce it. Consume it. Love it. All signs are go: we have hit peak meme hysteria. 

Take a look at this year's NBA free agency Category 5 thunderstorm: Kevin Durant's breakup with Oklahoma. Once he made the announcement, the meme generators went into the overdrive mode Curry never could muster up in that Finals Game 7. Maybe we should thank our forefathers for the “no work” July 4th Monday that gave way to the streamlined mass production of the internet's unrelenting assault we witnessed yesterday. The time between KD’s Decision 2.0 and the ensuing images and videos meant to appease the mass’s appetite for low-brow, pop culture-laden humor is on a scale so unfathomably short, I feel like the news came with the memes already shipped inside and ready to go, like one of those care packages your mom sent you freshman year but with less sustenance and more merciless humor. See some of my favorite exhibits below:


To my knowledge this one was posted three minutes after KD’s announcement. How do you guys do this?

It wouldn’t be a piece on memes in the realm of sports without Crying Jordan, so here is one of Westbrook, of course. This one’s back from the dead from after their playoff loss to Golden State. Is that poetic? Ironic? I don’t know anymore:

Everybody loves Martin:

It's not an internet meme without a bit of pop culture potpourri, and while you might think a reference to that cell phone guy is dated, the comparison to his switch from Verizon to Sprint is pretty apt:

And my favorite of the day. You guys really have no remorse: 

 

So here we are. Are future news cycles doomed to be dominated by the thunder of memes or will kids like my cousin make up the warriors of tomorrow who will revolt against our generational identity? Until then there’s not much to do but sit back and laugh. 

Cracking the Code of Creativity

-Joe Pitts (@headtowall)

Continuing our series on creative industry, I want to talk about a really interesting presentation from Cannes Lions this year put together by Razorfish Marketing and Contagious Communications. In it they look at a huge dataset of the last 15 years of Lions submissions and winners to try to better understand what goes into successful, award-winning creative. They came to a few conclusions I feel any creative would benefit from thinking about:

Good Creative knows no geographic boundaries

The presenters show that great creative campaigns can come from anywhere, and Lions winners have come from all corners of the globe. 

Good Creative knows no economic boundaries

Money aint a thing! Winners have come from both rich and poor backgrounds, countries and cities. So if the idea is good and executed well, small budget projects can sometimes trump campaigns with big budgets. 

Good Creative requires collaboration

Those agencies who collaborated with other agencies were more successful and won more Lions awards. Moral of the story: work together, even with people you might not get along with so long as they bring something to the table to make the final product better. That's all its about. Nothing else matters

Good Creative takes time

Looking at longitudinal data of agency/client relationships, analysis shows that partnerships lasting years are often the most likely to have successful creative campaigns. This means that great ideas take time, sometimes even up to a decade!

Peep the full talk below:

As increasing automation forces marketers into a zero-sum battle for efficiency, genuine human creativity could represent the last true competitive advantage. And yet how much do we really know about this most valuable but intangible of assets? We know that great, award-winning creativity can be effective, but what about the conditions in which it thrives?

Dizzy Santana Really Can't Fuck Wit U

-Joe Pitts (@headtowall)

Dizzy Santana hits us with his first new drop in a minute "Fuck Wit U". The Philly-based rapper spits over the sultry sounds of the Brandon Finessin-produced track and wants yall to know he can't fuck with u. On the record Dizzy manages to sound both relaxed and serious bouncing from bars about living the life to doing that work. The single is a Working on Dying exclusive, the Philly trench team including beatmakers F1LTHY and The Loosie Man whose recent credits include Lil Yahcty and Black Kray. Peep the track below:

LIBERTY Roots Picnic Afterparty Recap: QUITE HYPE DAY IN THE LIFE #004

-Joe Pitts (@headtowall)

Shout out to all the homies and sponsors who came out and supported our LIBERTY Roots Picnic Afterparty. Follow Anthony Somebody of Quite Hype in another edition of the Quite Hype Day in the Life Series below. We popped bottles, laced up friends with new sneakers and turned up all night. What else could you want in life?:

Are You Really a Creative?: Why the Creative Generation Needs to Pay Attention to Cannes Lions (and Our Favorite Creative Winners from this Year)

-Joe Pitts (@headtowall)

The Creative Generation is in full swing. Thanks to the millennial desire for expressing creative visions in an emboldened do-it-yourself style—in addition to technological advances leveling the playing field for creatives of all types—we are witnessing a generational movement towards peak creative expression.

In Philadelphia the creativity community is trending for sure. First Friday lineups are packed with art shows and exhibitions throughout the city for art lovers of all types. The city’s punk/indie/rock, hip-hop and electronic scenes are thriving. Damn near everyone and their mom are looking to hop on the curator/party promoter train. With these heightened ambitions, creative partnerships are being forged across socio-economic and cultural lines that would have never been imaginable in Philly’s stale entertainment industry climate of even a couple of years ago. 

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. For all the excitement the creative community has the ability to instill into the fabric of Philly’s various social scenes and circles, we should all ask ourselves an important question: am I really being creative? Can I really consider myself a creative? What does it mean to be truly creative?

Modern artistic movements like Philly’s current cultural wave have brought about an increased tendency for individuals of all types to refer to themselves as creatives. All people possess the ability to be creative: to imagine the unimaginable, foresee the unforeseeable, to produce original works and ideas that have never before realized. But we must be careful when throwing around the “creative” term. Picking up a camera, a paintbrush, or a microphone does not make you creative. What makes one creative is the ability to push boundaries and bring something new to the table. If you’re jocking someone’s artistic style, lyrical flow, or photographic aesthetic in the production of your work, you are not being creative. You’re merely reproducing something that already exists in the world. People see something they aspire to be like on the internet, and the copy it with a spin on it and stamp themselves with a self-congratulatory “creative” label. To be truly creative, one must do something that has never been done before. It’s that simple: bring something new to the table! Creativity is nothing more, nothing less. 

We should be critical of what it means to be truly creative and ensure that we are pushing ourselves and each other to ensure maximum creative output. With that said, this post is the first in a series of Cult Classic features focusing on creativity and today we will be looking at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity currently winding down right now in Cannes, France. The Cannes Lions International Fesival of Creativity is “is a global event for those working in the creative communications, advertising and related fields. It is considered the largest gathering of worldwide advertising professionals, designers, digital innovators and marketers.”

To get a sense of what others around the world are doing to truly push the boundaries of creativity, we should take a look at this year’s Lions winners. Submissions for creative awards fall under various categories including: Film Film Craft, Media, Press, Outdoor, Cyber, Promo & Activation, Direct, Design, Radio, Mobile, Branded Content & Entertainment, PR, Creative Effectives, and more.

Now these awards showcase how industry leaders are pushing the boundaries of creativity particularly in advertising, but we feel their creative excellence transcends any one discipline and can be applied to all creative industries. These guys are truly doing unique things in the realm of creative advertising and branding. We would all do well to be a little more hip to the innovators around us like the Cannes Lions winners featured below. Hopefully their creative ideas push you to be more imaginative in your own creative endeavors. Here are some of our favorites from this year’s awards:

Theodore Grams is Back with One Question: WTF (Prod. F1LTHY)

-Joe Pitts (@headtowall)

Grams is back with a new street single "WTF" produced by rising Philly producer F1LTHY, and the record sees the Philly artist at his most confident and unrepentant. The time is now for Philly's creative scenes to dominate all lanes of the city's entertainment industry, and Grams wants to make that point loud and clear. Calling on Phrat's DJ FM and Milk Man Leakers with DJ Tati Mia for the squad cosign drops, his bars speak for the wave: 

"When they say 'don't let them weirdos' in they talking about us, cuz we comin' thru all the spots we scoopin' up all the sluts, fuck your dress code and your uniform I wear what I want, I swear season after season we been tearing shit up"