Unmasked, a Rapper Exults in Tradition – NEW YORK TIMES

Your Old Droog Performs in Public for the First Time

Your Old Droog performing at his sold-out debut concert on Wednesday night at the Studio at Webster Hall. Credit Chad Batka for The New York Times

In June, a rapper named Your Old Droog posted a self-titled EP on his Soundcloud page — no photos, no videos, just songs. The music was scratchy boom-bap hip-hop, in the vein of New York rap before the flash of the mid-1990s swallowed it whole. Your Old Droog rapped forcefully, in breathless complex rhyme, and with a sly, mildly scraped tone that to many, sounded a little too familiar.

Maybe Your Old Droog was Nas? Arguments began to rage online, with a vocal contingent of fans insisting that two decades after his debut album “Illmatic,” Nas would rise again — in disguise! — to rescue the genre anew. “Illmatic” remains a touchstone not just because of what Nas did — vivid narrative storytelling over immaculate sample-driven production — but because of what he failed to do: keep to that task, instead leaving behind a void that a certain strain of rap purists is still desperately trying to fill.

So the groundswell was a testament to the tenacity of nostalgia, and, as it happens, excellent publicity for Your Old Droog, who was of course not Nas, but instead a white rapper from Coney Island, and like plenty of white rappers before him, deeply reverent of hip-hop’s past.

On Wednesday night, he performed at a sold-out Studio at Webster Hall — his first proper concert — in a show that could have easily, apart from the odd Instagram reference, taken place sometime in the mid-1990s. Starting out the night in a Pete Rose throwback jersey, he talked of being advised to study Big Daddy Kane to learn breath control. He rolled dice. He rapped over drowsy, chopped-up soul. He incorporated an old Jerky Boys sketch into his routine.

And at one point he rapped over the instrumental of Nas’s “One Love,” because he had a sense of humor about what he called “the elephant in the room,” and then, reconsidering, called a “woolly mammoth.”

But Your Old Droog would have never garnered the attention he has, confused or otherwise, if he wasn’t an accomplished rapper. His EP and the sprinkling of songs that have followed it are uniformly sharp-tongued and clever, a blend of blustering tough talk and romantic self-deprecation. On “Nutty Bars,” in a line that probably had Nas acolytes salivating, he boasts, “I’m ’bout to bring back storytelling/I’ll bet money if your man get snatched up in that store, he telling.”

Onstage, Your Old Droog had a slight remove from the tougher parts of his oeuvre, stalking the stage with a jovial air and joking about his crush on Tamron Hall, the MSNBC host (who happened to be in attendance). At one point, he sang along to Next’s casually erotic “Too Close.” And he fretted just a little bit about what announcing himself to the world might mean. “Since the face been revealed, the game got real,” he said, laughing. (Maybe it’s noteworthy that among the sprinkling of industry figures in the room was Paul Rosenberg, Eminem’s manager.)

In the last couple of years, New York rap nostalgia has become its own ecosystem, from the flamboyant Action Bronson and the word-swallowing Joey Badass to artists like Roc Marciano and Ka, who make gloomy music as austere as minimal techno, which thanks to its brutal sparseness refines nostalgia into art.

Consciously or not, Your Old Droog is part of that movement, which also includes this show’s openers, Timeless Truth, a pair of Polo obsessives from Queens with a series of hardy releases that recall the early Loud Records days. The other opener was Michael Christmas, a promising and hilarious young rapper with an impressive mixtape, “Is This Art?” that’s maybe more reminiscent of mid-to-late-’90s Stretch and Bobbito-era independent rap. (He replaced Rast RFC, the onetime graffiti writer turned rapper who dropped off the bill, preventing the show from being a true nostalgist’s trifecta.)

By the end of the night, Your Old Droog had made his case — not just for his getting out from under the shadow of the Nas rumors, but for the continued potency of that brand of hip-hop, serving as a reminder that for some, the old New York isn’t a footnote, but the whole world.


The 10 Best Concerts in New York This Week, 9/1 – 9/5 – VILLAGE VOICE

By Brittany Spanos Mon., Sep. 1 2014 at 3:00 AM

Thursday, 9/4:

Webster Hall
8:00 p.m., $26
What happens after your band releases a string of infectious and inescapable singles? Why, you attempt world domination with another band! Jack Antonoff, the multi-instrumentalist of Fun. and main man of Lena Dunham’s life, has headed up a side project called Bleachers, a band whose biggest competition in the indie pop department is every other project of Antonoff’s. The world was introduced to Bleachers through “I Wanna Get Better,” the absurdly catchy first single off of their July debut album Strange Desire. With its ’80s new wave-life sound, Bleachers has given us a breezy soundtrack to the summer in the same way Fun.’s Some Nights was in 2012 (and 2013). Let’s see which of Antonoff’s projects will keep us smiling and be stuck in our heads come 2015. — By Brittany Spanos


Electric Zoo Sunday … Saved by Slake – BILLBOARD

By Megan Buerger | September 02, 2014 1:03 PM EDT

Zedd performs at Electric Zoo 2014 on Randall’s Island, New York City.
Doug Van Sant for ElectricZooFestival.com

While the fest was forced to end early again, at least everyone remained safe this year.

Still, eager to make the most of the long weekend, many of the DJs who were scheduled to play Sunday night — Kaskade, Bingo Players, Fedde le Grand — took to Twitter to assure fans they were in talks with city clubs to play make-up sets. Slake, a relatively new venue near Penn Station, scooped the most impressive last-minute party lineup with a bill that included What So Not, Chase and Status, Heroes x Villains, Milo & Otis, LOUPVCK, Netsky, Mat Zo, Alex English, and more. Tickets reportedly sold out in less than 30 minutes. Elsewhere, Fedde le Grand performed at Pacha and ATB played club Marquee.

Read Full Article here


Nas Is Not Your Old Droog – THE NEW YORKER

Culture Desk

AUGUST 25, 2014

On a recent Saturday morning, a tall, slouchy twenty-five-year-old in a polo shirt, baggy jeans, and Timberland boots that, by his own admission, had gone “mad dusty,” showed up at a subway station in Coney Island. He admitted to being Your Old Droog, the previously unknown rapper, who, for the past two months, has been at the center of an ongoing conspiracy theory in hip-hop. This was the first time that Droog had shown his face—boyish, bearded, and permanently scowling—to a reporter. As we walked through the housing project where Droog spent much of his childhood, he seemed to have a more pressing concern on his mind than revealing his identity. After some idle talk about the dice game Cee-lo and some more idle talk about gambling problems, he came out with it: “So, did you think I’d be white?”

Between takes, Droog watched parts of a thirty-seven-minute YouTube video by someone named Marco PoloVision, who emphatically (and, it must be said, somewhat convincingly) laid out the case that Droog was Nas. “This is like my street team,” Droog said. “Why would I stop free publicity?” I asked Droog if he was worried that people would lose interest once they found out that he wasn’t Nas. Droog has his first big live performance in early September, at Webster Hall, where he will presumably have to walk around as himself. He said that he wasn’t concerned, because people will always connect with “beats and lyrics” (a nineties phrase if there ever was one). As for the whole Nas thing, Droog said, “I see all this shit as a compliment.” He quickly reconsidered. “I mean, I should take it as a compliment, right?”


Basement played their 2nd NYC show ever with Superheaven, Pity Sex and Ovlov (pics & setlist) – BROOKLYN VEGAN

photos by Mimi Hong, words by Andrew Sacher

Basement / Superheaven / Pity Sex @ Webster Hall – 8/19/14
Pity Sex

I walked into Webster Hall on Tuesday (8/19) around 7:20, about three quarters of the way through Ovlov’s set, the first set of a four-band bill, and it was packed. I’ve been to a handful of Webster Hall shows, but unless the headliner was someone like Paul Simon, I’ve never seen the 1,500-capacity venue that full so early on. But this was a special show. Basement, the UK post-hardcore band who put out two much-loved albums in 2011 and 2012 before going on a 2-year hiatus which just ended, were headlining the sold-out gig. And it was their second New York City show ever.

This wasn’t just Basement fans waiting around for their favorite band to go on though. The crowd was appreciative of every band that played, and for good reason. Ovlov, who I’ve never seen outside of a DIY venue let alone a place as big as Webster Hall, had no trouble on the big stage. And their usually-scrappy indie rock sounded cleaner than ever. Pity Sex were up next, one of the few shoegaze bands around who can incite mosh pits, and it didn’t take long for that to happen on Tuesday. It wasn’t as crazy as their last NYC show at Music Hall of Williamsburg (though that show was crazy for bad reasons too), but they sounded great. And most excitingly, they did an excellent cover of the Pixies‘ “Gigantic” which will appear on their upcoming split with Adventures. Pity Sex’s Britty Drake does a great Kim Deal and the band really did justice to this one. Keep an eye out for that split.

They were followed by Superheaven (formerly Daylight). I had yet to really become a fan of Superheaven’s recent debut album, Jar, but they won me over as a live band. With Jar, they come closer to post-grunge and alt-metal than any other band on the bill, and whether or not that sound is your style (it’s not really mine), it’s hard to deny that they do it right. Their tones were heavy as fuck, they were effortlessly tight, and they were no statues on stage either.

Then Basement came on, and if there was ever any doubt of how beloved this band is and how missed they were in NYC, that was erased within the first minute. I was upstairs when they started, and the crowd screaming to set opener “Whole” instantly echoed through the entire venue, louder than anything had been all night. That didn’t change for the entire set, save for the two songs they played off their brand new EP. The band expressed more than once on stage how grateful and shocked they were to be playing to such a large crowd and getting the kind of feedback they were. Their last and only other NYC show was at the MUCH tinier Acheron in 2011 (also with Daylight, but that time Basement were the openers), and they said on stage that there couldn’t have been more than 50 people there. To say Tuesday’s show was a triumphant return to NYC would be an understatement.

Pictures from Webster Hall are in this post.


Wiz Khalifa Is the Normcore Dad We Need – VILLAGE VOICE

By David Turner Fri., Aug. 22 2014 at 3:30 AM Write Comment

Credit: Rob Menzer
Wiz Khalifa when he’s off-duty as a dad

This week Wiz Khalifa is releasing his third (!) studio album Blacc Hollywood, which follows the similarly pro-black upper class sentiment of his second album Only Nigga in First Class. The album does not deviate too far from the music of Wiz Khalifa’s entire career: weed, women and bros. The latter is covered in Chicago drill indebted “We Dem Boyz,” the topic of women is heard on the early “Promises” and, well, “weed” is covered by the fact Mr. Khalifa has his own brand (Khalifa Kush) of the stuff. He’s got his friends, wife and his own peculiar niche hobby, could he be even more dad if he tried? Wiz Khalifa moved from simply being a highly successful stoner to rap’s foremost normcore dad.

See also: Wiz Khalifa Returns Home With Blacc Hollywood

Wiz Khalifa’s musical personas retained a consistent fluidness by never becoming too locked down into a specific sense of dress or musical aesthetic. Back in 2006 he was sporting black tall tees, then in 2008 he got a fluke minor hit single called “Say Yeah” that sampled the trance hit “Better Off Alone” by Alice DeeJay years before EDM was codified. Eventually, Wiz shed these clothes and musical tastes to become a veritable “weed rapper.” Weed was his alpha and omega. The video for “Memorized” from his Kush and OJ tape with its many bong rips, fast cars and casual mall browsing became the Wiz Khalifa that still exists in 2014: a kush-reeking skeletal teddy bear. 

The loving side of Wiz Khalifa appeared at the forefront of his video for “Roll Up,” his follow-up to #1 hit “Black and Yellow.” In the guy side piece anthem, Wiz sings the puppy-eyed hook “I could be your best friend / I could be your homie” in dissing guys that don’t know to respect their girlfriends. Though in the video he’s courting Bad Boy Records singer Cassie, Wiz had started seeing the model Amber Rose in 2011. The relationship withstood plenty of mockery from gossip gawkers who saw this beautiful model — and former partner of Kanye West — with this lanky goofy stoner as more of a joke than potential celebrity power couple. A year later, however, they were married and have since produced a cute son named Sebastian. 

Rap does not have a dearth of dads. Even some its youngest stars like Chief Keef are fathers and have devoted recording booth and Instagram time to their young ones. Wiz Khalifa in a way stands apart from other rap dads because he excels in capturing the charming lameness of being a father. 

That lameness might be in showing public affection: 

Dressing Like This: 

And just to be sure again dressing like this:

Or even tweeting this:

That Wiz Khalifa dresses like everyone’s favorite great-aunt or a 1977 punk rocker is a pretty hard line to oscillate between. He’s simultaneously going through a pre-mature mid-life crisis at 26 and settling into domesticity. The beautiful part of parenthood after a while is that ability to give no fucks about such trivial matters. Do most dads care that their pants never fit and that wearing gym shoes for all occasions isn’t appropriate? Nope! Parenthood doesn’t reward caring about coolness and once Sebastian is old enough to comprehend old pictures of his dad from back in 2006 where he’s wearing a tall tee will be just as humorous as dad rocking the world’s skinniest pants. 

On Blacc Hollywood, such dadisms are almost every line that comes from Wiz’s mouth (see: the entirety of “We Dem Boyz”). Nearly all of Wiz’s poor rapping could have been the thoughts of a too high stoner. Now bound in a relationship, these lines take on a goofy sweetness. That tenderness has always been a quality of Wiz Khalifa’s music; it is rare for him to publicly beef with other rappers and he is constantly reaching out to younger and lesser-known artists. Wiz Khalifa never forgot he used to just be another rapper in Pittsburg and always tries to please his fans with generous mixtape offerings alongside his more divisive major label releases. That humbleness lyrically might not shine through but is obvious in his entire persona and desire to provide a sustainable living for his young family. It’s not hard to love him when he can find tenderness in a song called “Ass Drop” because Wiz Khalifa even at his most lewd has a marshmallow heart.



Events — 18 August 2014

Bacon. Whiskey. Barbecue. Gold fringe jumpsuit-clad cowboy singing countrified Van Halen covers from atop a mechanical bull. All that you’d expect and more came together Saturday afternoon at the appropriately titled “East Ville Hoedown,” packing folks into each of Webster Hall’s three levels. The venue embraced the best of country living to create a departure for New York City’s cowboy and cowgirl wannabes, filling their rooms with the sights, sounds, and tastes of the midwest.

Upon arriving, patrons were greeted by cold beer and offered “I <3 Bacon” hats before moving towards the first floor’s bars and food tables. The Susquehanna Industrial Tool & Die Co.‘s retro country swing and rockabilly stylings were on stage providing the upbeat soundtrack for our first round of bacon-based delights. East Village Social’s “Bacon Mac-n-Cheese” generously incorporated the ingredient of the afternoon, while Pig Guy NYC cut right to the chase with their savory “Bacon on a Stick” in a sriracha glaze. The theme carried over to the bar, which featured whiskey and moonshine cocktails all with bacon-based garnishes: bacon sticks, bacon salt, candied bacon, and bacon dust. Our favorites included “The Pig’s Old Fashioned” made with Woodford Reserve and “Wilbur’s Clean Cut,” with Old Forester bourbon and a dash of cayenne for a kick of good measure. For those particularly inclined to the celebratory bacon beverage, Evan Williams offered the bourbon based “Swine King” with prepared with lemon and Champagne. Guests also had the opportunity to cleanse their pallets with a sample or six of the whiskeys being featured in the cocktails, bacon-free.

Upstairs, the brave lined up for their photo-op on the mechanical bull, which claimed its victims for the duration of the three hour late afternoon event. On this level, House of ‘Que served up sandwiches packed with “Chopped Brisket” and tortilla-wrapped “Spicy Sausage” in a Jack Daniels glaze. There was a brief break in bull riding when a performer, appropriately wearing plaid and denim, twirled on a hoop suspended from the ceiling. Despite this risky feat of acrobatics, the crowd was most impressed by the ability of Van Hayride to countrify hits from Van Halen, Black Sabbath and even Madonna. Their lead singer provided colorful commentary and encouragement to the bull riders, even taking a swing at it himself during his rendition of “Jump.”

For those who still had some remaining room room (somehow, we did), the balcony level had dessert offerings all incorporating, what else, bacon. Robicelli’s “The Maltz Brownie” had generous bacon bits throughout its fudgy brownie, leaving no question why it won the Best Dish at the 2013 Bacon & Beer Classic. Meanwhile Macaron Parlour’s delicate “Maple Cream Cheese and Candied Bacon Macaron” was a delightful bite and a half. Tipsy Scoop took it one step further and added the booze of the day in its “Maple Bacon Bourbon Ice Cream.” We saved the sweetest cocktail until after dessert, enjoying the “Salty Saturday” with Jack Daniels Honey as we made our way back downstairs.

While the crowd disagreed on the best use of bacon, the consensus seemed to be that a hoedown was a much welcomed change to the ordinary New York City weekend. Webster Hall’s “East Ville” event was advertised as the “1st annual,” which we hope means that a return of the country vibe and the bacon-centric focus is in store next year. Our arteries may not agree- but they’re usually way too uptight as it is.

- Mallory Sullivan


Propagandhi + War on Women + RVIVR – TIME OUT NEW YORK

Propagandhi + War on Women + RVIVR
Punk & hardcore
East Village
Sun Aug 17

Time Out says
Posted: Thu Aug 7 2014

In the punk sphere, maturity often connotes an uptick in ambition coupled with a pop-friendly polish (à la Green Day). But the aesthetic arc of Manitoba’s Propagandhi proves that there’s more than one way for punks to grow up. In the years since their peeved yet goofy 1993 debut LP, How to Clean Everything, frontman Chris Hannah, drummer Jord Samolesky et al. have gradually dialed up the heaviness and technicality, honing a sonic punch to match their always-fierce leftist convictions. As heard on 2012′s excellent Failed States, Propagandhi hasn’t stopped pushing. Opening are War on Women and RVIVR (the band behind The Beauty Between, one of our favorite LPs of 2013), equally fierce political-punk crews from Baltimore and Olympia, WA, respectively.


Charli XCX to play concert in New York’s Webster Hall – DIGITAL JOURNAL

Charli XCX to play concert in New York’s Webster Hall

On October 7, British singer-songwriter Charli XCX will be playing a concert at Webster Hall’s Grand Ballroom in New York.

Charli XCX will be joined by such musical acts as Swedish pop artist Elliphant and Femme.
For more information on obtaining tickets for this show, visit Webster Hall’s official website.

Her single “Boom Clap” is already a Top 10 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 charts, and climbing, after charting for 10 weeks. The song was recently nominated for “Choice: Love Song” at this year’s Teen Choice Awards. It is a track from her forthcoming studio album, Sucker, which will be out on October 21.

The British songstress collaborated with Iggy Alazea on her hit single “Fancy,” which spent seven weeks at the top of the Billboard Hot 100 charts. Both Charli XCX and Azalea co-penned the tune.
As a solo artist, Charli XCX is in the running for a 2014 MTV Video Music Award (VMA) for “MTV Artist to Watch” for her music video of “Boom Clap,” and she will be performing the song at the pre-show event, while the video for her collaboration with Azalea, “Fancy,” which features Charli XCX, is nominated for “Video of the Year,” “Best Female Video” and “Best Pop Video.”
To learn more about Charli XCX, visit her official Facebook page.



House Party
East Village
Thu Aug 21

Time Out says

Would you get a look at this lineup? Holy heavyweights, Batman. The weekly hip-hop party features a different style on each of Webster Hall’s four floors. In the Grand Ballroom, Just Blaze, DJ Soul, Brenmar and their pals bring the hits; after-dark fixture Va$htie curates the 1992 party in the Marlin Room; Jasmine Solano and Melo-X’s Electric Punanny party plays reggae and dancehall in the Balcony Lounge; Brick Bandits kingpins DJ Sliink and Dirty South Joe dispense hard-knocking club tunes in the Studio.


News, Press and Upcoming Events from New York Citys Premiere Nightclub