Dem Atlas, Career Crooks
1131 S. Broad Street
Philadelphia, PA, 19147
Doors 7:30 PM / Show 7:50 PM
This event is 21 and over
When asked if he always knew he’d end up being a rapper, Benjamin Laub—better known as Grieves—can only laugh. “Oh no, not really,” he says, “I was in bands and stuff, but I grew up listening mainly to Punk stuff. It wasn’t until I got a little older that Hip-Hop really started to happen for me.” When Grieves first heard artists like Mobb Deep and Wu-Tang Clan, he remembers being drawn to their sound. “Hearing all the samples and stuff from records that I heard my dad play when I was a kid… You start to hear the connections. When I discovered people like Atmosphere, it was like hearing somebody speak their truth in a way that related to me. That’s when I first started to think about Hip-Hop as a way to really talk about what was happening in my life. Hard to believe that now, over a decade later, that’s actually what I’m still doing.”
On Running Wild, Grieves’ fifth proper full-length, the Seattle based musician manages to balance the dueling impulses that fuel both his live shows and his previous releases: the need to cut loose and the need to vent. Grieves wants to have a good time while also keeping shit real and honest. While previous efforts like 2011’s Together/Apart and 2014’s Winter & The Wolves might have leaned heavily in the direction of darkness taking on subjects like addiction, heartbreak, and poverty—the new record introduces some much-needed levity to the proceedings. “I remember a review of one of my records where they were like, ‘This guy sounds like like he's hella intense and really shitty to hang out with.’ I'm like, ‘What the fuck?’ It's actually the opposite. I wanted this record to reflect that a little more.”
Recorded in Stockholm alongside Swedish producer Chords (aka rapper Jens Eric Resch Thomason), the fifteen tracks on Running Wild do exactly what the album title would imply. Tracks like “Gutz” and “No Sleep” are classic Grieves ruminations on anxiety and romantic bust-ups (“I think about you and say f--- you, then you come over and I f--- you” he raps on the former), but the record—which features only a handful of guests, all from Seattle—stretches out in a number of surprising directions. Tracks like “Faded” and “RX” experiment with fluttering trap beats, while songs like “What it Dew” and album closer “5,000 Miles” offer the rich guitar tones and humming organs that one might expect on a classic soul record. It’s a kind of openness—both sonically and thematically—that Laub attributes to how and where the record was made.
“I flew from Seattle to Stockholm on basically zero sleep,” he recalls, “Suddenly I’m there, my first day, and I’m immediately stepping into the studio, which felt like walking into a whole other planet. I'm jet lagged. I'm vulnerable. I'm there, but I'm kind of not. And that's where some of the best songs came from. I didn't have the energy to fight myself on anything. Instead of retreating into my own head, I got completely out of it. Songs like “Gutz” are things that I probably never would have done—or could have done—on my own. If something felt weird to me, or uncomfortable, Chords would push me further in that direction. I needed that. Any time I was like, "Nope. I don't think I can get away with that" he’d say, "That sounds like a perfect reason to give it a try."
At a time when the notion of the “album” is often summarily ditched in favor records that are little more than a collection of previously released singles, Running Wild is very much an album, and intentionally so. “I really wanted this to be a real record,” says Laub, “I wanted it to work front to back.”
“I've been touring for over ten years at this point,” he says. “People have seen my show. They get it. They get who I am as a person and they get who I am as an artist. They get both sides of the spectrum. They get the serious and they get the light heartedness. Until now I haven't been comfortable with releasing a record that divulges that, that gives what you're getting at the live experience and what you have come to expect from the records, all in one. The whole idea is to just give people a more authentic experience of me. I’m not just the brooding emotional fuckup from that old record review, the one with no sense of humor who doesn’t sound fun to hang out with. This record is for all the fans who’ve come out to the shows, for everyone that I've worked with. For so many years I felt like, in order to have a career, I could only show this one little part of me. I don’t want to do that anymore.
Since signing to indie heavyweight Rhymesayers Entertainment in late 2013, deM atlaS hasn't wasted any time in spreading his brand of Hip-Hop music across the world. Steadily on the road since his signing, he was able to find the time to release his unofficial debut, DWNR, in late 2014. DWNR was a special release with each cover uniquely hand-drawn by deM atlaS himself. Released to critical acclaim, the first pressing of over 1000 copies sold out within 48 hours.
"DWNR, his grunge-influenced Rhymesayers debut, is deeply melancholy, and splits the difference on 'depressed' and 'party mode'" -Pitchfork
deM followed the release of DWNR with major festival plays around the country, and supporting label mates Atmosphere on various tours in the US, Canada and Europe. After taking a break in France to record with French super group Ursus Minor, deM returned home and released his second EP titled mF deM on July 15th, 2016. The project features new lyrics over 13 previously released MF DOOM beats and is available for FREE via Digital download at Fifth Element and Vinyl and CD in LIMITED quantities.
Starting in September 2016 deM atlaS joined Atmosphere and Brother Ali on the formers Freshwater Fly Fishermen Tour that spanned the U.S. and Canada until February 2017. Upon returning home deM immediately began putting the final touches on a full-length debut album and gearing up for a busy summer and fall.
Career Crooks consists of long time Wrecking Crew collaborators/South Philly neighbors Zilla Rocca and Small Professor. Steeped in the late 1980’s to early 1990’s east coast rap, Career Crooks coupled street smart blue collar futurism with a modernist approach, launching them to the level of current luminaries like KA, Roc Marci, and Westside Gunn. "Good Luck With That" is the cross-section of hip hop’s fascination with its early days, while still touching on all of the cultural touchstones of current times.
Before signing with URBNET, Canada's premiere indie rap label, Zilla and Small Professor were individually active and engaged within the indie/underground scene, regarded as veterans in their element since 2007. Their monumental contributions have garnered them much deserved respect and recognition.
Zilla Rocca has released numerous albums on his own imprint, Three Dollar Pistol Music. He has been featured in numerous heavy hitter publications such as Huffington Post, HipHopDX, Okayplayer, LA Weekly, Philly Weekly and Complex.
Small Professor has continued to develop to his impressive “Jawn” series catalogue, which collectively spans nearly seven years. He has also worked with Coalmine Records on his 2013 project with Guilty Simpson.