One Nation Under This Groove: Philly's Writtenhouse and Kuf Knotz form a mutual admiration society.
|photo by Denise Perri
||photo by K. Escamilla
When it comes to positive vibes and smartly conscious lyricism, there's no better brotherhood than the one shared between Germantown's Writtenhouse squad (MCs Charlie K and Somerville Sleeves, live producers Kush Shalimar and Chris Conway) and Bryn Mawr-native rapper Kuf Knotz.
The relationship blossomed when Knotz met the heavenly mash-n-rap quartet during a 2010 show at The Blockley. "Like us, his music infects the soul mind and spirit," says Charlie K of Knotz's sound. Knotz shares a similar enthusiasm for Writtenhouse. "We dug each other immediately" says Kuf.
Beyond brotherly love and mutual admiration, each has their own way in to hip-hop's collage of musical knowledge. There are cheery lyrical photos of the city he loves on his 2010 CD Boombox Logic
("Sunny Philadelphia"). But Knotz has been in the game longer and there's something wisely pragmatic and hard in his best tunes. "Fame us" details the struggles all artists go through. "It's about battling the conflict between doing music for the love of it and hanging on to your artistic integrity versus wanting to become wealthy and just making music radio stations will play."
There are other more starkly dire tales to be found on Boombox Logic
. Like "Clock Tickin" which starts out with Knotz detailing a particularly rough moment of his life. "Ultimately though, it focuses on me finding a way to get past it and keeping a positive outlook."
When it comes to finding the positive in the face of all iniquity, Writtenhouse squeezes sweet lemonade from lemons like nobody's business.
The title of Writtenhouse's album was suggested by Philly MC Reef the Lost Cauze. Charlie K explains its forceful meaning. "One of our managers, Muhammed Sharif, fell into a mild coma last November and is sleeping to this date," says K.
Sharif is healthier and continues to make progress. It is his strength and their forward motion is what While You Sleeping
is dedicated to. You have to think about the future when your Writtenhouse. Before their manager fell ill, they had to re-record the entirety of this project when their home studio was robbed in June 2010 and the master hard drives stolen.
"All of the hard work we put in., gone in a matter of seconds," says K. "We shook it off, looked at ourselves and said, well, we are musicians, right? We make music, right? So that's what we will do."
That's the sort of get-up-and-go that signifies a Writtenouse track. It could be something universal like "Keep It Moving." It could be something more personal like K's "Cigarette Smoke" and challenges to quit tobacco. "I needed to hear that song to encourage me in my struggle with quitting," says K. "Most of the tracks on the album motivate and minister, not only to others but to ourselves."
Writtenhouse and Kuf Knotz with 84, Sat., Feb. 12, 7 p.m., $10, Kung Fu Necktie, 1250 N. Front St., kungfunecktie.com.