Spotlight: Nouveau Riche

9:15pm, Beauty Bar Backyard

Spotlight: Nouveau Riche

Philadelphia's Nouveau Riche has almost as much trouble defining its genre as its listeners do. Bassist Khari Mateen describes the group's sound as a series of progressive textures. Guitarist Dominic Angelella calls the band "a combination of everything just to create one cohesive sound." In the simplest terms, Nouveau Rich melds hip-hop and tripped-out rock music, yet this isn't trip-hop. More like interstellar pop on a positive tip.

"When I first came in, it was daunting to me because I had never heard music like this before, and I didn't know how to write for it," says Nikki Jean, the Minnesota native whose mystical voice vibes perfectly with the dark ambience of the instrumentation.

Fronted by Jean and rapper Dice Raw, whom Jean describes as "our elder statesman" due to his experience working with the Roots, the fivepiece balances Mateen's fresh production with a love of experimentation. Dice isn't the only one with credentials, either. Mateen has writing credits on four songs of the Roots' Game Theory, and Jean is slated to join Kanye West's Glow in the Dark tour, featuring Rihanna, fellow SXSWer N.E.R.D, and Lupe Fiasco, whose "Hip Hop Saved My Life" she guested on. Their individual efforts help Nouveau Riche collectively, but as a band, they're more intent on turning over new stones, as evidenced by the band's upcoming full-length, Bankrupt.

"You need to come with a blank slate," states Jean, "because there's no point in trying to put a collective like this in a box."

Angelella takes it one step further:

"It's a combination of everything that came before it and everything that's coming in the future."

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