Hip-hop pays homage to city

In “Philadelphia,” the Hustle pokes fun at NoLibs, tourists and sports fans.

On the lookout for bands that inspires sweet – and hopefully not embarrassing – dance moves? The Hustle isn’t a bad place to start.

The Philadelphia-based group combines the traditional set-up of guitar, bass, drums and sounds from DJ turntables and a keyboard. For some dance-worthy tracks, add in lyrics about girls who party too much and a dedication to the city.

The group consists of MC Kuf Knotz, vocalist and keyboardist Nora Whittaker, drummer Bradlee Beats, bassist Kurtis Shakemore, guitarist Tom Copson, Jr. and Ray Ventura, also known as DJ Kingspin.

Though some members of the group work on solo projects, they come together to write about Philadelphia.

Knotz, the father of the band, drew from his musical resources in the city to contact Whittaker, former bandmate Copson and friends Bradlee Beats, Shakemore and DJ Kingspin.

After performing a remixed version of the Beatles classic “Good Morning, Good Morning” at World Café Live, the band knew it was on the right track.

Its sound is derived from the members’ personal backgrounds, as well as the history of their hometown of Philadelphia.

In a city where the music comes from soul and funk, the Hustle fuses the two together, while adding in other genres.

“All of us love different styles of music and bring the styles we love into the pot and just mix it up,” Knotz said. “I was raised on hip-hop and soul music and then ventured into punk and indie rock. All the other members brought their influences, and it just seemed to work somehow.”

DJ Kingspin compares his musical relationship with the city to making a cheesesteak.

“In order to make it authentic, it’s important to layer the ingredients accordingly while they sizzle,” he said. “Then flip it so they blend together.”

Not only does its music pay homage to the city, it talks about it.

The Hustle’s song “Philadelphia,” describes different aspects of the city.

“Welcome to Philadelphia, the city of love,” sings Whittaker in the opening lyrics. Knotz then talks about the hipsters who live in Northern Liberties, the drug spots in North Philly and the madness of the city’s sports fans. He even takes jabs at tourists, saying once they get lost, they don’t know if the next turn will take them to a nice street or the middle of the ghetto.

In a few short phrases, Knotz describes the feel of the city with lyrics that define the song.

Knotz spells out Philly, saying “‘P’ is for the people that keep the city live. ‘H’ for hustle, the city’s do or die. ‘I’ is for ill that explain us well, yeah, as in dope, it ain’t hard to tell. ‘L’ is for love that the city project. The other ‘L’ is for the love we hold for music. ‘Y’ is for the youth – the future’s ours.”

Frances McInerney can be reached at frances.mcinerney@temple.edu.

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