Felonious, San Francisco’s premier lives hip-hop music and theater collective will be releasing their fourth full-length album, Live City, on June 8th, 2010. On Live City, Felonious blends live band musicianship, beatbox acrobatics, emcee freestyles, and witty lyricism all with an elevated theatrical delivery, showing why they are one of the most diverse hip-hop acts around.
From Felonious’ amazing beatbox a capella rap performances to their ill live band sets and theatrical presentations, this troupe of MCs and musicians kill it every time they get on stage. As a live band Felonious’ instrumentation features the pounding live drum beats of Soulati (Tommy Shepherd), the reggae, Latin, funk, and jazz bass lines of Illin Ills (Dylan Mills), KP’s (Keith Pinto) melodic vocals, and keys, MC’s d.wolf (Dan Wolf) and Infinite’s (Carlos Aguirre) poetic and rapid-fire lyrics, and Jon Monahan’s virtuoso guitar playing. KP steps out from behind his keys to rock the mic, while Soulati is able to play the drums and rap at the same time. Spontaneous freestyles and two of the freshest beatboxers on the West Coast (Soulati and Infinite) make a Felonious live show untouchable. Theatrically Felonious is known for blending conventional theater scenes with the music, language, and aesthetics of hip-hop.
Originally Felonious Punks, a capella hip-hop duo founded in the ’90s by Soulati and d.wolf, the group morphed over time into a full band dropping punks from its name to simply be known as Felonious. Since then, Felonious has written and starred in a number of theatrical productions which have added a unique take on hip hop culture. Their first play Beatbox: A Raparetta, is a piece written and performed entirely in rap, accompanied by beatbox and a live DJ. The play went on to be featured in The Source hip hop magazine and has since been produced in San Francisco, Oakland, New York, and Germany. Beatbox: A Raparetta was also recently published in paperback by the Theater Communications Group in 2009 under the title Plays from the Boom Box Galaxy: Theater from the Hip-Hop Generation. Felonious’s next hip hop theater production, Angry Black White Boy, was also a smash hit, running for 12 sold-out weeks in 2009 at the Intersection for the Arts in San Francisco and was named Top Ten Best Theater by both the SF Chronicle and Examiner .
For Live City, Felonious has recorded an album that recreates their captivating live performance. “Live City is the Felonious album we’ve always wanted to make,” says MC d. Wolf. “It captures Felonious in its rawest creative form and is enhanced through the process of capturing music and lyrics in some of the Bay Area’s sweetest sounding rooms. Felonious comes from the live aesthetic – the live city – a place where performance is equally as important as the studio. A place where the freestyle cipher holds court with the beatboxer. A place where the beat is pounded out by a live drummer and enhanced by keys, guitar, and bass. A place where music has drama and is a real conversation between artist and audience. ” From the storytelling lyrics of waking up in a post-apocalyptic America on the song “Heat”, to the vocal beatbox samples and Spanish-inflected guitar solo on “Get It STR8”, Live City showcases Felonious at the height of their creativity. Guitarist Jon Monahan adds, “Live City is a huge canvas on which we painted as accurately and creatively as we could the artistic experience of making hip-hop and soul music in the Bay Area.” Live City also features special guest appearances from some of the Bay Area’s top musicians. “We couldn’t have done this alone, which is why you hear Jazz Mafia, Kimiko, Cait La Dee, Aspect, and others doing their part on our album,” says Monahan.
With Felonious’ latest theater production Stateless: A Hip Hop Vaudville, this group is once again pushing the envelope as they deliver a collage of live music, hip-hop performance, vaudeville shtick, video projection, magic tricks, Jewish- and African- American history, and re-mixed folk songs starring Felonious members Dan Wolf, Tommy Shepherd, and Keith Pinto and Brooklyn’s One Ring Zero (Michael Hearst and Joshua Camp). In addition to their plays, Felonious has released 3 full-length LPs including Fight For Light, The List, and Up To Something. Felonious has also shared the stage with such notable hip hop legends as The Roots, De La Soul, Big Daddy Kane, DJ Premier, Black Eyed Peas, Zion I, Living Legends, Radioactive, and Crown City Rockers.
In addition Felonious members have taught their brand of multi-disciplinary hip hop performance at every theater and alternative arts organization in the Bay Area from San Jose State’s Dance Department to Berkeley Rep’s School of Theater, Theaterworks, to Youth, Speaks.