I have been completely out of the loop the past few months. No writing, no shows, no nothing as I tried to piece "the rest of my life" together. Friends who know my ipod the best have been telling me about this band out of Brooklyn for a few months now, telling me about how they make dope music I could get down with. Gonna take that late pass now... they are the truth; bringing it front to back until the stagehands at Brooklyn Bowl cut the sound and very literally shut them down in front of a packed house Thursday night.
This nine piece collective based out of Brooklyn signifies a return to musicality in hip-hop today; melding equal parts slick shit-talking and swooning affections to the fairer sex laid upon beds of music. Music that's not the same five packaged snare rolls and 808's on top of "THE DROPS BRAAA!!" This is a throwback to meaningful chord progressions, slight key changes, and that omnipresent love felt in the music; one that feels genuine and not overproduced or reaching. They are equal parts songwriters, composers, collaborators, friends, and, judging by their on-stage chemistry, brothers; blending all together into a genre their own they termed in a Nylon interview "the Brooklyn soul."
The colors flashed and the brass section blew down as the crew entered one by one to "Light Years." They started things off with the Phonyland opener "4 the First Time" and kept the BPM's up with "Break It Off," keeping the girls' hips moving and the guys trying stan as many lyrics possible throughout the course of the show. Dyme-A-Duzin, PJ and Elbee Thrie are the three main vocalists of the crew: each trading off rapping and rather impressive vocal duties with telepathic ease on stage. They are a seasoned live band given their age (19-21) knowing when to push the issue and when to take their time with the crowd; the show Thursday night being a by-product of opening up for Erykah Badu, Theophilus London, Miguel, and, the band that I'm assuming is their spiritual guide animals, The Roots over the past couple of years.
Their showmanship doesn't stop at the front, but goes all the way down the line; to the point it seemed like throughout the course of the show, every member got their shine and turn in line to bang just a little bit louder and faster than the rest. Whether it be Bari, wide-grinned and Dashiki-ed up, strumming down on the bass or Aja on the keys dotting the extra I's on the notes, the Phonies kept the place hot for the hour plus they were on stage.
The dulcet "I Wish I Was a Chair" (video belooow) got a girl on stage unprompted to wind her way down onto Dyme as PJ wound down the song. They started pulling people up and a full on party ensued in the second half of their set, with "Cop Scame" and "ThirtyNine" sliding in seamlessly with covers of A Tribe Called Quest ("Electric Relaxation"), Missy Elliott ("Get Ur Freak On"), and N.E.R.D. ("Everybody Nose"). They are up on Youtube already (shoutout to Sisterhelenband!)... I can't do any more than encourage you to check them out. They had the entire crowd (and about half of The Dalton School reunion/mob) in a lather by the end of the night.
Erick Arc Eliott opened up before them, showcasing another side of musicality going on within the "Beast Coast" movement; a terminology that's gained traction as of a few weeks ago that includes Joey Badass, The Underachievers (who showed up during both sets to drop "Gold Soul Theory," amongst others off their new Indigoism tape) and Elliott's Flatbush Zombies. Most notably known the full time producer and sometimes rapper of the crew, Eliott made a firm attempt at the beginning of his set to separate his quieter solo music from the Zombies brand of controlled chaos. The intro to "Hills and Valleys" drops a 1:11 sax track that swishes and swirls around in the glass before the beat drops into a crazy alternate reality. Unlike the past few times I've seen the Zombies perform life, he had a different DJ and a backup singer on stage with him? A totally unexpected and a welcome surprise. It didn't last long though until he brought out the rest of the crew to drop the bomb into their latest single "MRAZ." Their customary hype was definitely brought ; dudes jumping up and down all over the stage, spilling into the crowds trying to finish as many of Meech's and Juice's lines. The video is below, and I couldn't think of a better song that puts together what they're all about than "MRAZ."
East Coast, Beast Coast, New Yawwk, whatever you want to yell out... don't let anyone tell you different. We're back. There's a lot of great stuff coming out these streets... stay tuned.
Phony Ppl -- I Wish I Was a Chair
Flatbush Zombies -- MRAZ
Download Phonyland. and nothinG special. -- Bandcamp