From our calendar this week:
Meek Mill’s path to success hasn’t been a smooth and straight ride. A handful of years back, the rapper got signed by T.I., but before anything could come out, he got arrested and sent to the slammer for eight months. Then last November, on the night of his album listening party, the super-successful Dreams & Nightmares, he was detained by police but released. It still made headlines and put the brakes on a big tour, guaranteeing local dates from the Maybach Music Group emcee for a bit. If that wasn’t enough, last month, his name came up in the shooting incident outside of French Montana’s hotel on Columbus Avenue. Meek was on the bus, but it turns out it was more of a fan-on-fan incident. The brother either can’t catch a break or isn’t trying very hard.
But hey, dude’s been winning: Puma signed him on as a brand ambassador, his big non-mixtape album debut put him high on Billboard charts, and he sold nearly 300,000 copies in the first two weeks. When he got signed by Rick Ross alongside Wale, he was ushered into a boys’ club of which he’s certainly taken advantage, collaborating with artists that orbit in Ross’ universe, like 2 Chainz, Drake, John Legend and Mary J. Blige. No one can deny the success of anthems like “Amen,” “House Party” (with Young Chris) and “Young & Gettin’ It.” And tonight, the Tower Theater’s sure to be packed with proud fans who love what Meek brings to the Philly hip-hop game: commercial and critical success that puts him in the family of the Roots, Beanie Sigel and Freeway.
8pm. $30-$45. With Ace Hood. Tower Theater, 69th and Ludlow streets, Upper Darby. 610.352.2887. thetowerphilly.com
Wednesday, April 10th
Hezekiah Davis is a self-proclaimed “sarcastic asshole,” and he got it from his funk-punk parents, who raised him in West Chester and Delaware. The comrade-in-arms of other Philly nu-soul giants like Bilal, Kindred the Family Soul and Musiq Soulchild, as Hezekiah, he’s more of an emcee, but on this new project, one he’s been working on for a couple years, he sings. And you know what? Dude’s got pipes. They’re not Bilal-level pipes, no, but the transition from rapper to funk and soul-spiked hip-hop band leader has not been unfriendly to the West Philadelphian.
Davis’ collaboration with Tone Whitfield, a bass specialist and producer with a healthy pedigree of his own, and soulstress Marjani Clark for last year’s The Crow yielded a new and fresh voice in Philadelphia music. The first single, “Hello to the Bad Guy,” is a snare-propelled and grimy guitar-driven track that hoists Hez’s plaintive, questioning tone above the fray. Meanwhile, the puppet-heavy video behind “Next Episode,” a pretty piano-backed insult track about an ex who he’s “through” with, is sultry, groovy and down-to-earth. “At least we tried, ya know?” he asks. His emulation of Gil Scott-Heron and Grace Jones is not lost in these songs. He brings that classic Philly-flavored soul to this new project. And he and his supporting crew play the middle opening set for Smokey Robotic tonight, channeling the likes of Erykah Badu and Mos Def.
8pm. $8-$12. With Smokey Robotic + Kokayi. Johnny Brenda’s, 1201 N. Frankford Ave. 215.739.9684. johnnybrendas.com
Photo c/o Philly.com’s staff photographer, Alejandro A. Alvarez.
This is sad. Details emerged late last night and early this morning about a shooting outside the Holiday Inn Express on Columbus Avenue. Montana’s tour bus was en route to the hotel with an entourage and rooms booked inside for an after-party. Fans were following, too, in cars and, most likely, hoping to get in on said after-party where Meek Mill was sure to be. He was a surprise guest at the sold-out TLA show last night and French and Meek Tweeted and Instagrammed about it. In fact, one of the most tiresome moments of Instagram throughout the whole ordeal was when Montana posted a photo of Philadelphia police questioning a man in the lobby of the hotel with the text: “ain’t nobody got time for this shit.”
See, it basically sounds like a drive-by shooting. Shots were fired from a sedan that pulled up alongside the bus into the crowd hanging out around the tour bus. It was a mix of fans, entourage, artists, management and groupies, presumably. And when shots were fired, guns were pulled from the crowd around the bus and a car was found near Jefferson full of bullet holes. It seems that the police are confident that the shooting was not aimed at Montana or Mill but was more of a conflict between groups of fans.
As the cops arrived, everyone started to get questioned. I can only imagine what that process was like. One of the bizarro details from this Philly.com story is that drugs were found stashed in hotel lobby cushions. Once witnesses to the shooting were corralled into the Holday Inn lobby, looks like they realized they might be taken to a police station.
26-year-old Juwann King was shot in the abdomen and pronounced dead in the hospital late last night. Another 28-year-old, whose name hasn’t been released, was shot in the shoulder and is going to be fine/alive.
This is brutal on many fronts. A shooting after a show that seems kind of pre-meditated? Frightening, and makes us all a little more paranoid. That a 26-year-old is dead as a bystander? Tragic, and our thoughts and prayers go out to King’s family. Montana being glib and ignoring this tragedy in his social media? Crass, and unbecoming behavior from a young, up-and-coming “star.” Meek Mill being involved in all of this? Man, when is he gonna stop playin’ with his probation game? This situation just sucks.