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The JUMP Off Photo by G.W. Miller III.

The Collaborator

Morgan James hangs with the young, multi-instrumentalist and Philly transplant who has big name connections and a world of talent.

Photo by G.W. Miller III.

Khari Mateen has quickly developed a serious reputation in the music industry. He’s recently produced on the critically acclaimed Undun by The Roots, Jill Scott’s The Light of the Sun and The Abandoned Lullaby by Icebird, the RJD2 and Aaron Livingston collaboration. “Music is situational,” ruminates Mateen. “I’m not going to impose my will upon it in a way that isn’t right for the music.” A cellist by trade, his creativity explores musical faculties with an intensity attributable to his immense abilities and ease of familiarity. While growing up in California and Georgia, his saxophone-playing father would whisk him along on trips to recording sessions at the legendary Philadelphia studio of Larry Gold, who is also a cellist. After he graduated from high school, Mateen, now 25, moved here. “Philly is fucking dope,” he says. “Honestly, everyone is doing something different and everyone inspires me. That’s why I’m here. I’m looking at everyone and I’m trying to work with as many people as possible, to grow from everyone in Philly.” He’s performed and produced with The Roots and he scored the 2008 Mark Webber film, Explicit Ills, which starred Rosario Dawson and Tariq “Black Thought” Trotter. He has produced regularly for underground electro-pop favorite J*DaVeY. Mateen started his own band, Nouveau Riche, with former roommate Nikki Jean, along with Dice Raw, Dominic Angelella and Joe Baldacci. After that genre-defying project folded, Mateen helped create the indie-

Chambers Music Society Mercedes Jones meets the Grammy Award nominee who plays guitar for Eminem. It doesn’t get any saltier than Curt Chambers. He’s the perfect mixture of determination, undeniable talent and rock-star mentality. Chambers was raised in Nicetown, a working class community in North Philadelphia. Both 12

rock project, Elevator Fight, featuring Angelella and Baldacci, who also perform with DRGN KING. Mateen sings and plays bass guitar. Actress Zoë Kravitz fronts the new band. “She’s super cool,” says Mateen. The band spawned their name after a trip to Disney World, when they had an epiphany on the Tower of Terror. In 2011, Mateen released his debut solo project, Khari. The seven-track album moves from smooth, neo-soul style grooves, to tight, get-youout-of-your-seat funk, to old-school-style rhyming, to intricate, jazzy instrumentals. And it’s all rooted in his experiences in Philadelphia. “When I see people in Philly doing music - playing, going out to jam sessions - there’s a great vibe,” he says. “It’s a testament to how important music is to people who live in this city.”

of his parents were singers and his father also played the bass. Chambers grew up spending weekends in a church that was heavy on blues music. Chambers started with the drums, playing for hours every day after school. When he got to high school, he began reading and writing music, which gave him the control and freedom to create his own sound. The summer before he started college, Chambers and a few friends hooked up with producer Rich Nichols, who ran the careerlaunching weekly showcase, Black Lily. After auditioning, Chambers and his friends were brought in as Black Lily’s house band. For a young artist like Chambers, Black Lily was the perfect opportunity. He backed up a wide array of neo-soul artists. “It was a crash course at being a musician and an artist, while actually getting to work,” he says. At the same time, however, Chambers was attending William Patterson University. He took classes in Newark, NJ, in the morning and drove to Philly for practice and gigs at night. “My last month of college, it was like a train in back of me, pushing me forward, and a gate in front of me, holding me back,” he says. “By graduation time, I was literally pushing that gate down.” Shortly after graduating, he went on the road as a guitarist for Eric Roberson, Floetry, Vivian Green, LL Cool J and Diddy. “I was doing at least three tours at one time,”

he says. After touring for a few years, Chambers and his Philly friends formally came together as a band, Franklin Bridge, in 2005. The group took on a bi-weekly residency at Manayunk’s Grape Street Pub. They developed a large following and played around with a few different sounds. Not long after Franklin Bridge started to gain momentum, the Fox Network’s The Next Great American Band launched. Franklin Bridge, along with 6,000 other bands, auditioned for a chance to be on the show. The producers loved their video entry and flew them out to the West Coast to compete on the show. They appeared in five episodes but they were voted off the show after three rounds. “The show was a great experience but moneywise, it was a sacrifice,” Chambers says. “A lot of us had been touring and working with artists.” After the loss, the group decided to take some time off to pursue solo endeavors. Nothing has slowed down for Chambers. He still tours, traveling the world with major artists like Eminem, Anthony Hamilton, Ledisi, Jaheim and Musiq Soulchild. He was part of the team nominated for a Grammy in 2011 for his work on the Jaheim song, "Finding My Way Back." And in February, Chambers released his debut solo album, One Way Ticket. It delivers a blend of rock, hip hop, pop and soul, showing off Chambers’ trademark guitar playing, vocals and songwriting skills. JUMPphilly.com

JUMP: Spring 2012  

Chiddy Bang, Cheers Elephant, Gogo Morrow, Chocolate Milk, Lushlife, Sara Sherr, Swift Technique, Khari Mateen, Curt Chambers, Purling Hiss,...