Ashley Hall learns about the inspirations behind Raj Haldar's eclectic music. went live. That’s so awesome.” In January, the 30-year old, Philly-based artist signed with Western Vinyl and announced he would release a full album, Plateau Vision, on April 17th. Despite previously putting out two fulllengths, including the acclaimed Cassette City, Haldar feels this is the first time he’s truly creating his own sound. “I’m not just exploring how other sonics work,” he says, “but doing stuff I don’t think has been done a lot on the production side of rap music.” Although his sound changes on every track, everything he does has immediate roots in classic 90’s hip hop. Inspiration for his sound comes from artists
Photo by Megan Matuzak.
After releasing his latest mixtape, No More Golden Days, in October, Raj Haldar, known as Lushlife, got attention from numerous magazines and blogs, including Stereogum, which called it “the mixtape of the week.” He never expected the coverage he received from the New York Times. They referred to his work as “attitude-thick rapping, long dense strings of compressed rhymes heavy with Philadelphia arcane.” “My mom was most excited about that,” Haldar says. But he recognized that there was something bigger going on. “When I put that mixtape out,” he says, “there were thousands of people downloading it from the moment it
Life Inside The TLA The guy in the ticket booth has big dreams - and his family by his side, as Megan Matuzak discovers. The Theater of Living Arts has been Andy Riehs’ stomping ground since he was 11, when he would sneak into shows to see bands like Simple Plan and Good Charlotte. A Northeast Philly native, Riehs would hop onto buses and the El just to stand in the warm glow of the TLA’s stage lights. He was around the venue so often that the bouncers and manager of the venue took notice. They eventually offered him a job in security. 8
“I’ve had people throw up on me, pee on me, curse at me,” Riehs says with a chuckle. “When I did security out front, I had a guy try to sneak in 20 cans of beer in his cowboy boots. That was insane.” Now 24, he stations himself in the box office at the TLA, which is always bustling. The phone rings off the hook with ticket sales and furious patrons who won’t take “sold out” for an answer. He also manages the stagehands, working alongside his father, Andrew Sr., and sister Rachel. The Riehs family is the first thing you see when you arrive at the TLA. Andy Riehs and his sister man the ticket booth, handling will call and questions. Their father scans tickets and pats down the eager concert goers. If anyone gives Andrew Sr. beef, you can best be sure that his son has his back. Riehs’ father also runs Riehs Florist in Northern Liberties, a familyowned shop that opened in 1885. It is no surprise that life in the flower shop and at the TLA overlap frequently. Ok Go once requested their instruments and mic stands be covered in flowers, which were supplied by the family business. Hip hop artists like Young Jeezy call on Riehs’ family for single roses they hand out to the lucky ladies in the crowd begging to be serenaded. When he’s not at the TLA, Andy Riehs often positions himself in front of his police scanner. “I really love music and the TLA but originally, I wanted to be a cop,” Riehs notes. “I used to listen to the police scanner with my grandmom. She got me hooked.” He’s always had an interest in law enforcement as his uncle is a SWAT team member. But don’t be mistaken - Riehs doesn’t plan on blowing his spot at the TLA for the police academy anytime soon. He plans to climb the ranks in the music business, hopefully doing production and booking at the TLA. “I’m always here,” Riehs says with a wide grin on his face. “I love it. No one knows the TLA quite as well as I do.” JUMPphilly.com
Photo by Ashley Hall.
Lushlife: The Media Darling
like Nas, Mob Deep, The Roots, the Beach Boys and the Philly soul artists of the Gamble & Huff era. The genre-bending rapper and multiinstrumentalist blends influences, jumping into extremely experimental territory. “I try to not make my influences too obvious,” he says. “I synthesize them through myself. Whatever comes out, comes out.” Haldar began playing piano when he was 5. He played in jazz bands in middle school and high school. “Even at a young age, I was so obsessed with music,” he says. “I just never even thought about doing anything else.” He now operates a modest recording studio out of his South Philly home. “It’s like, the perfect life for me,” he says. “I love the city. I love the music scene.” Plateau Vision will feature members of Das Racist, Styles P and some of the numerous major artists featured on No More Golden Days. The MC/producer says his sound and priorities have shifted as he’s moved from project to project. “If you would’ve asked me when I was 22 what I wanted, I would’ve probably said I want to be darlingized by the press and have a super hot record,” Haldar says. “But now, I am really settling into the feeling that it’s just the music. And I can’t ask for more than that right now.”