State In The Real – Penn State Music Scene

Album Review: A Tribe Called Quest 25th Anniversary




First off, let me make a few things clear, we here at State in the Real do not usually make a habit on covering reissues, but this one seemed to be a little too important to let go. 25 years ago, the sound of hip hop and rap changed. Three men from New York decided to change how people thought about hip hop and rap, this group, A Tribe Called Quest, consisting of Q-Tip, Phife Dawg, Jarobi, and Ali Muhammad, these men were apart of the rap collective known as the Native Tongues. Where most rap was still in its infancy, A Tribe Called Quest, along with other Native Tongues members, push the boundaries of what it meant to be a rapper, it was no longer a lifestyle filled with violence and anger, like N.W.A. were providing. A Tribe Called Quest were rapping about social issues and more light hearted issues. Their sphere of influence basically knows no bounds. Pharrell, Questlove, J Cole, Kanye West all cite A Tribe Called Quest as their influence. Hell Questlove even got his name from the band. In their album People’s Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm (moving forward we will call it PITPR). Their first studio album, and from the get go, one can see why they are such a special band. In 2013, the Tribe performed what Q-Tip referred to as their last show, but you can’t keep a Tribe down. Recently reuniting on The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon, the rap group reaffirmed why they are still needed in the rap world. In a time when trap music, hooks and rapper feuds are what is fueling the rap industry, we need songs that ask the simple questions like “Can I kick it?” or “Do I eat eggs?” to the latter the answer is “I don’t eat no ham n’ eggs, cuz they’re high in cholesterol” A Tribe Called Quest just reminds me of summer, and this album, among their best, is one of the most upbeat and happy albums. In the best way possible it embodies everything that is great about New York, think of it like the happy parts of a Spike Lee movie, you see the bright colors, and feel the warmth of the summer heat.dotherightthing_boogie

Now to get to the meat of this album, what does it sound like? At this point, if you have not heard it or have any interest in getting into a Tribe Called Quest, than I just do not think that Hip Hop is the genre for you. This is honestly one of the greatest hip hop album of all time, and the 25 years have done it very well. It does not seem dated, when I hear about  classic albums getting reissued I usually roll my eyes (Yes Bob Dylan and Led Zeppelin I’m looking at you) most reissues are just slightly cleaned up audio versions of classic albums with slightly more modern album covers. I do not usually fall for this trap in music, but for this what really caught my eye is the three remixes capping the album. These remixes come from the hands of Pharrell Williams and J. Cole. There is also a remix of “Footprints” featuring a new verse from Cee Lo Green, and this is Cee Lo at his best, like good old Gnarls Barkley Cee Lo. As for the Pharrell remix, it is sexy, like really makes you feel Q-Tips love for his “Bonita Applebum” Pharrell brings this love rap to the next level, like a Marvin Gaye level, and brings the seduction to the house. As for J. Cole’s remix of “Can I Kick It?” I would say that it is the weakest of all three remixes, but that is mostly because the other two are just so strong. Also it is worth noting that this is a remix and does not include verses from Cole. These remixes do make it worth the re-listen. The album is a classic, and the 25th anniversary shows why PITPR deserves the credit that it gets. It is a cleaner sound than 25 years ago, and the remixes are definitely worth checking out.


A Tribe Called Quest comes back 25 years after their studio debut and remind us all they are the ones that had a hand in changing the sound of rap music. From Q-Tip to Phife Dawg to Jarobi to Mr. Muhammad, A Tribe Called Quest brings the fun back to rap, in a time when rap is becoming inundated with club bangers. This is music to walk around the block with your boom box. The remixes from some of the biggest names in hip hop make this reissue worth checking out. And as an added bonus here is the group reuniting to perform “Can I Kick It?”

Shawn Fox Releases “Apricity”

Earlier today, sophomore Shawn Fox released his anticipated freshman album, Apricity. It made its debut only a few hours ago; however, it’s been making waves since it was announced last month. Following the release of well-received singles, curiosity skyrocketed after Fox announced that 75% of album sales would go directly to the Four Diamonds Fund. While his dedication to the cause is a good reason all on its own to invest in the music, I do want to focus more on why you should support it because of the pure talent evident in the piece. He’s only 19, but his instrumentation and composing skills are completely beyond his years.

I’ve had the pleasure of knowing Shawn since his high school days. Writing with his talented brother, Ryan Fox, allowed me to get introduced to Shawn’s music, and being able to watch him grow as a songwriter gives me such a feeling of pride, as if he were my own little brother. He’s 4 years younger, but I will always look up to his remarkable ability to leave listeners feeling excited and fulfilled.

Something Fox has always been good at is writing catchy vocals that will get stuck in your head for days, and that gift is extremely evident throughout Apricity. His Brendon-Urie-esque vocals are powerful; however, what’s really impressive is how he uses dynamic instrumentation to take the pop genre in so many different directions. It’s a feel-good album – full of catchy vocal/synth lines and positive, reassuring lyrics – that makes you want to cruise down a tree-lined, fall-embellished highway. While each song gives off its own vibe (folk, beachy, rock, electronic), they all complement one another and create a sound that is solely owned by Shawn Fox.

A few months back, I asked Shawn what the inspiration for Apricity was, to which he responded:

“At the end of the day, I strive to write authentic and memorable songs that resonate with
people of all ages. I think music connects people in ways that merely talking does not.
Throughout the next couple years I hope to further develop myself as a musician and share my
music to the world. If one of my tracks can make you feel something and tap into that innate
sense of emotion many of us have, then I’ll know I’ve done my job.”

Well, Shawn, I can safely say that goal was met because I am one person who hears that lyrical authenticity and the emotional cohesiveness between the instruments and the lyrics. Some songs speak to the highs in life; others to the lows, but they work as a package to reflect the wonderful ride we can all relate to. So, hey, go and support a fellow Penn Stater, and support a lovely cause while you’re at it!

Apricity is now available for purchase on iTunes and for streaming on Spotify.

A Solid Debut: Tapestries

With their debut single, Colliding, Tapestries has hit the ground running since coming together. You may have seen this indie folk-rock trio around the State College area. The group is comprised of Olivia Price, Rashmit Arora and Zach Kramer.


If you have not listened to Colliding, you’re behind schedule. Sometimes there is just nothing better than a softly played indie-folk song like this one. The lyrics are full of the groups poised smooth vocals. You see it all the time when production and instruments overpower talented voices. I can say confidently this did not happen in Colliding.

This is not a song, that you role down your windows, scream at the top of your lungs, and speed down the highway in, but this is the type that’s enjoyable laying by tree with your favorite book and some apple cider. With Tapestries, it’s not about virtuosity or overt intensity, it’s about the human element, the story, and the lives of people. This is a group you will surely want to look out for.

They were one of many acts to perform in the Palmer Art Museum this past May at Arts Crawl. Each has been playing their own music for awhile now, and have successfully merged into writing music together. You may have even recently seen them earlier this week at Picnic at the Folk Bazaar. Make sure you check out their Facebook page for upcoming events and listen to their song posted in this article!

The U: “For the Love of It”


Penn State alum, The ‘U’ is back at it with a new music video, “For the Love of It”. The second single off of his debut album #NoDaysOff. The music video, directed by Randy Troy of Conviction Studios, is grand and fun music video that truly embraces the moniker of #NoDaysOff. The ‘U’ can be seen having a good time in a baseball stadium, shooting hoops in the park and at a party. With crisp visuals, this song and video will be a testament to those that work hard for what they have in life. Check out the video below.


For more details on The ‘U’ and his upcoming album go to his new website here. If you want your very own The ‘U’ T-Shirt and other merchandise, go to the website and cop yours before it is too late.


Absolute Sky


This is the first installment of IndieU’s column in State in the Real. IndieU, similar to State in the Real, is a company that is dedicated to connecting college students to their local music scene. With its online music magazine steaming website ( and mobile app [download on iTunes & Google Play], IndieU offers a unique and valuable music-sharing platform that connects independent artists to college students. Keep an eye out for more IndieU column posts in the future!

If you want to learn everything there is to know about Penn State’s music scene, download the IndieU app TODAY.

This article originally appeared on IndieU’s website on October 7th:


By: Lauren Duncan and Kelly Xiang

Though founded in 2014, The Absolute Sky is a group years in the making. The friends-turned-bandmates formed from the ashes of a collection of high school projects, learning to make music together amidst weekend sleepovers and adolescent antics. Their brand of indie rock is reflective of their youthful spirit: vibrant, wild, and larger-than-life. The five-piece put out their debut album, Rurala, last March, and released their first single since the project, “August In Orange,” earlier this week. We recently caught up with their Penn State-based branch, drummer Joffrey Hoy and guitarist Jamie Lyons, discussing their mishmashed sound, the meaning behind their name, and what’s in store for the future.

How was the band first formed?

Jamie Lyons: We’ve been together since the summer of 2014, but have been kind of on and off being in bands with each other.

How would you describe your sound? Are there any artists in particular you would cite as an influence?

Lyons: Everyone asks us what our sound is all the time, but I never know the answer. I’ve been told we sound like Cage the Elephant, The Who and The Cavemen. Kind of like a ’90s sound. We try and make big, nostalgic music. We’re inspired by Radiohead, Sufjan Stevens and Kurt Vile kind of sounds.

Joffrey Hoy: In the simplest form, it’s rock music. We all like different music, so we try and combine those sounds.

What’s the significance behind your band name?

Lyons: Basically, the whole concept is that our singer [name] wanted to created a collective group where all of his friends could work together. He saw a picture of this guy with Absolut Vodka, and the word Absolut kind of stuck, and then the sky is obviously a huge kind of collective thing so it worked. He’d be able to explain it better, but that’s the main idea. Our original idea was Headshots for Happiness.

Hoy: We’ve had so many band names in the past, The Stowaways turned into Basement Culture and then we’ve had a few other collaborative things like Jesus on Rollerblades.

What were you listening to while making your past release?

Lyons: I was definitely listening to Radiohead at the time we made our new single. We were listening to nostalgic music. Atmospheric, intimate, melancholy music.

Hoy: We recorded this at Temple University’s recording studio, and in my garage I have a little loft area where we can record a lot of this stuff. We have a friend in another band called Reflexes, and he also helps record and produce a lot of our work.

You’re both seniors. Is there anything that you would want your freshman selves to know?

Hoy: I would tell myself to take a year off, save some money and think about a few things before rushing into college and switching my major around. I felt a lot of pressure trying to continue in a straight line.

Lyons: Think about what you want to do more, and try not to worry so much.

What can we expect from you in the future?

Lyons: For our next release, our writing process has been kind of scattered just because of school. We want to add more sound and make it bigger. We’re thinking of maybe brass or strings. We want it to be full.

Hoy: Our lead singer, Branden, has a few notebooks just full of future songs and ideas and lyrics. We’re working on a lot right now.

Lyons: As far as inspiration, our lead singer wrote some of the new stuff while he was going through some intense personal things, so the tone may be a little different than in the past. A lot of the music we’re making for it has been written over the last few years, so it varies.

Hoy: We’re planning on having another album coming out within the next year.

Anything else?

Lyons: Don’t be afraid to chase your dreams and do what you love. Support indie music.

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Dive Into This Shark Week Playlist

But seriously. What are you doing? If you have yet to catch an episode of Shark Week on Discovery Channel, at least celebrate with a shark week inspired playlist. The new playlist, released by Columbia Records, includes a variety of songs like Pharrell’s new track “Freedom” and Calvin Harris & Big Sean’s hit “Open Wide.” The playlist is sure to have you jammin’ out on the beach like Katy Perry’s Left Shark, so take a listen for yourself.

Jam on left shark. Jam on.