Backbeat: DJ Premier and Kendra Morris at Skullcandy Present Wax Poetics Records Showcase
Backbeat: DJ Premier and Kendra Morris at Skullcandy Present Wax Poetics Records Showcase

New York based one-stop music shop Wax Poetics took over downtown Manhattan hotspot (Le) Poisson Rouge last Thursday night for the third installment of its monthly showcase series, which pairs artists signed to Wax Poetics Records with DJs featured in Wax Poetics Magazine for a live music/dance party double bill. The event kicked off just after 11pm with a full, nearly hour-long set from up and coming blue eyed soul singer Kendra Morris, who performed backed by a four-man band as well as two backup singers, and rumbled to a close some three hours later after a rousing DJ set from legendary hip-hop producer DJ Premier. Previous installments of the series, dubbed Skullcandy presents the Wax Poetics Records Showcase at Le Poisson Rouge, have featured hip hop pioneer and DJ Afrika Bambaataa opening for multi-instrumentalist Chico Mann and a sultry set by soul revival act Adrian Younge Presents Venice Dawn followed by Erykah Badu on the turntables.

Kendra Morris performing with her band at Le Poisson Rouge for Skullcandy and Wax Poetics Records Showcase. (Photo: Seth Applebaum)

"It's been great," says Wax Poetics publisher and owner Dennis Coxen, who's been a fixture at the series since it kicked off in August. "Great performances, great reception and a lot of positive press. And there's been a lot of love between our icon DJs and the artists on the label, they really dig each other."

The last point is key. One of the goals of the series has been to not only deliver great live shows but to also set the stage for studio collaborations between the DJs and the Wax Poetics' artists (Mann, Younge, and Morris). According to Coxen, Afrika Bambaataa and Chico Mann will knock out their collaboration as soon as Mann returns to New York after a West Coast swing that includes an appearance supporting Mayer Hawthorne and Badu is interested in working with composer and bandleader Adrian Younge, especially after getting the chance to see Adrien Younge Presents Venice Dawn firsthand. As for Kendra Morris and DJ Premier, that collaboration is already in the bag - on Thursday night Premier premiered the track, a remix to Morris' "Concrete Wave," during his set. The song will arrive at retail on Nov. 22, and be made available in an official Serato Vinyl Control format as well.

DJ Premier spins. (Photo: Seth Applebaum)

As for Skullcandy's involvement?

"A lot of it had to do with what [Wax Poetics] represents," says Joshua Berg, the headphone company's New York City Brand Ambassador/East Coast Marketing rep. "Their readership is music aficionados and vinyl lovers, which is a great fit for our brand. And then when they started talking about the talent [they wanted to get], it was like, are you kidding me? It was a layup."

Wax Poetics Magazine launched in 2001 and will celebrate its 10th anniversary and 50th issue this year. Wax Poetics Records started in 2007, and in 2010, the company launched its publishing arm - Wax Notable - as a joint venture with Notable Music. Wax Notable's first project was the official score and soundtrack for the 2009 indie film, "Black Dynamite."

Coxen, who says the brand approached Skullcandy about sponsoring the monthly showcase and hints that the fourth installment of the series may move to another major market like Los Angeles, says the brand is particularly excited about the maturation of the publishing venture. "It makes us a one-stop for any brand that wants music," he says.

skullcandy line
The line to get into Le Poisson Rouge for the Skullcandy/Wax Poetics showcase. (Photo: Seth Applebaum)