Live: Nas, Damian Marley, And Theophilus London Bring Good Vibrations to SummerStage

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@distntrelatives/Twitpic

Nas & Damian Marley w/ Theophilus London
Central Park
Thursday, August 11

Better than: Trying to find a decent reggae dance club on the Upper East Side.

Central Park's SummerStage series serves as a noisy little microcosm of very different people who all miraculously coexist somehow in a limited space. The Nas & Damian Marley + Theophilus London show exemplified this strange, but harmonious equilibrium; the crowd included Jay-Z and Usher, Rasta heads and tweenagers sneaking in their first inhale.

London, outfitted in a sequined long-sleeved shirt, snug white denim and a FRESH.i.AM x Lovers GG$ Snapback cap, kicked off the show with several tracks from his debut Timez Are Weird These Days Among them was "Last Name London," where he defiantly affirms his place in the genre: "And if your whole team feel I don't deserve to be in hip-hop/Tell them they can get off my Herbie Hancock."


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Theophilus London's Indie-Rock Admirers, And His Mutual Affection For Them

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Here is a list of artists who have endorsed or collaborated with the gloriously monikered Theophilus London: M.I.A.; TV On The Radio's Dave Sitek; Sleigh Bells; Sara Quin from Tegan and Sara; John Hill of Santigold production repute; and one-time Jealous Girlfriends member Holly Miranda. Not, then, the usual cast list of supporters drafted in to help propel a young rapper up from out of the mixtape circuit and into the major rap leagues. But a spin of Timez Are Weird These Days, the Brooklyn-based rap fop's debut studio album, reveals that to be the idea: He's a rapper, but he doesn't seem particularly bothered about cultivating rap fans.

Timez Are Weird These Days might be grounded in the basic idea that it's a collection of songs that employ rapped lyrics as the main vocal delivery, but its production, grooves, and ultimate ambitions aim elsewhere. At times it's music for a hip party, like the fuzzy, smutty funk of "Girls Girls $." At others, London is swanking around like he's draped in Diddy money, talking about becoming smitten with a "disco queen" that he runs into while hitting up a city's "bistro scene" ("Love Is Real"). London's songs usually push in a pop direction, too: Skipping over the actual rapping part, "I Stand Alone," with its defiantly motivational chorus, does a decent impression of an Eagle Eye Cherry ditty; lead single "Why Even Try" and "Lighthouse" sound like he missed his calling as an '80s pop-rapper. (If only London had Diddy's budget—he could rap over Duran Duran!)

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Live: Theophilus London Brings The Brooklyn To Williamsburg

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@Queenie_Darleen

Theophilus London
Music Hall of Williamsburg
Thursday, June 16

Better than: Being in a Williamsburg coffee shop.

Outside of the Music Hall of Williamsburg, a corner bakery advertised soy oatmeal muffins. A vendor looked to get rid of dusty Ja Rule vinyl and Junot Diaz novels. There were fixie bikes and aimless kids, coke-bottle glasses and paperback girls emerging from the Bedford L stop like ants from an anthill; a congregation of similar-minded outsiders.

And then there was Theophilus London.


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This Weekend In New York: Theophilus London, Kurt Vile, And A Bit Of Possible Self-Parody

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In Waste Of Paint, our writer/artist team of Jamie Peck and Debbie Allen will review goings-on about town in words and images.

This weekend involved lots of semi-aimless wandering around the city for Debbie and me, for which we were rewarded with one strange new friend after another. It was sort of like Harold and Kumar go to White Castle, minus the copious weed smoking and cameos by Doogie Howser.


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Live: Theophilus London Performs A Wedding Onstage At New Astor Place Joint Dominion NY

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"Kiss the fuckin' bride, man!" Pics by Chris.
Theophilus London/DJ Complex
Dominion NY
Tuesday, January 25

Better Than: A regular Tuesday night elsewhere.

Not enough new venues are opening up in New York these days, so tonight's grand opening of Dominion NY near Astor Place is a happening, albeit a happening in the not especially happening "Astor Place Quarter," as they've dubbed it. As you arrive at the large, multi-purpose venue not far enough from the Blue Man Group theater, friendly doormen welcome you to the "best venue in NoHo." We'll see about that . . .

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CMJ Portrait: Rapper Theophilus London

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photo by Sam Horine

Theophilus London
Hails from: Flatbush
Occupation: Musician
Best CMJ moment: Headlining Fader Fort at the last moment.
Favorite band: New Look

Q&A: Rapper Theophilus London Gives Tips For Remaining Cool and Fashionable at HARD NYC This Weekend

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Eddie Brannan
"I was at M.I.A.'s secret birthday party two days ago when Drew Barrymore walked in," says a smitten-sounding Theophilus London, the much-championed young M.C. who, contrary to his rap name, hails from Brooklyn's Flatbush neighborhood. "M.I.A.'s brother invited all her friends, people like Spike Jonze, but when Drew Barrymore walked in the door everyone was like, 'Oh my god!' I said, 'Hi.' I wanted to say more, but thought it wasn't appropriate. But I admire her and she's beautiful."'

A tryst with Barrymore might have passed him by, but London's ascent is underway, thanks to his ability to call on musical pals in hip places. Along with having his name on the guest-list at clandestine M.I.A. parties, he refers to Sleigh Bells as "mutual friends and fans," and is set to feature as the lead vocalist on the first single from TV On The Radio member Dave Sitek's upcoming solo project. This weekend, he performs at HARD NYC. In anticipation, we asked London--who, like his fashion-focused friends, has a foppish bent himself--for a list of fashion dos and don'ts, with an eye toward keeping everyone cool at the latest big show of New York's long summer season.

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