Meet Theophilus London
Dell & Intel's Special Engagements is a new kind of live music series that brings the best bands on the planet to unique venues all over the world. We kicked off the series at the Lustre Pearl, a unique bar set in a historic house on Rainey Street in downtown Austin.
And the entertainment? It was none other than Brooklyn rapper and producer Theophilus London!
In the last few years, he's been hard to pin down. One minute, he’s channeling Morrissey in his bedroom, the next he’s flying across the Atlantic with Solange Knowles. Emerging from a Brooklyn basement, London arrived fully formed in 2009 as a genre-hopping hip-pop impresario with an appeal that is undoubtedly international. Ripe with all the touchstones of modern pop: thick dance beats, big choruses, & party lyrics, his music is beginning to creep up on people all over the globe.
Born in Trinidad, but raised in Brooklyn, London got his first break with the Smiths devotional mixtape, <i>This Charming Mixtape</i>, which caught the ear of producer Mark Ronson. The two collaborated on a track for Ronson’s <i>Record Collection</i> LP, which helped London to land a major label deal with Warner Brothers. From there the team-ups continued, as Dave Sitek (TV on the Radio), Sara Quin (Tegan & Sara), Glasser, & Holly Miranda all contributed to his debut full length, <i>Timez Are Weird These Days</i>. For the LP, London chiseled his brand of New Wave-future-rap into danceable, club-ready gold nuggets, the standout being his Tom Tom Club referencing collab with Quin, “Why Even Try,” a reflection on the failure of love.
In the live arena, London brings all the energy of his recordings on to the stage. Backed up the massive volume of a guitarist wailing and a DJ mashing up his tracks, he patrols the stage with reckless abandon, bringing the hits to life. He’s shown a keen eye for style and a respect for his influences with choices on on-stage garb, often opening his set wearing a “Smith” College baseball cap, before trading it in for his trademark Stetson, homages to Moz and David Byrne respectively.
The hook of “Flying Overseas,” his collab with Solange, seems to have set up the blueprint for the next few years of his life “I’m going overseas / Come fly with me.” Doesn’t seem like Theophilus will be landing anytime soon.
You should definitely watch part 2 right now.