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Philadelphia's own U.City, a singing/songwriting duo made up of Aziz and Joshua Collins, is releasing their second independent album titled "The Fall" on February 3, 2009. The group will host an album release party on February 26, 2009 at 8:00 p.m. upstairs at World Cafe Live located at 3025 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA.

The album release party will start with a performance featuring special guests and end with a DJ set by one of the area's finest. A week prior, on February 18 at 8:00 p.m., the duo will grace an NYC stage when they perform at SOB's located at 204 Varick St., New York, NY. That evening, U.City will be featured in the soul artists showcase Sol Village hosted by Eric Roberson.

The release of "The Fall" comes four years after the debut of the U.City's first album "Reservations," released when the group was known as United Soul. "Reservations" received national and international acclaim while one track, "Best of Me," earned the group the Heineken Music Initiative/ASCAP Foundation R&B Grant.

U.City has taken a different approach with this album. The soulful ballads that made up most of "Reservations" and featured the likes of Soul and Hip Hop artists Yahzarah and Phonte of Little Brother have been replaced by tracks with a more edgier and uptempo feel. The album still offers something for everyone. From the accapella track "Skin" to the rock-infused "Electric Lady," The Fall comprises a variety of material with mass appeal.

While working on their new project, U.City also spent time writing for other artists including Philadelphia's favorite husband and wife duo Kindred the Family Soul, who perform the U.City penned track "Hey" on their latest album "The Arrival."

With the release of "The Fall," U.City will continue offering devoted fans and first-time listeners something they can truly enjoy and appreciate.
- Press Release

"U.City: City of Soul. By Deanna Mingo"

U.City is the next segment in the Philadelphia soul saga. A sultry composition; the love-child of two passionate individuals eager to bless the world with something provocative yet entertaining. Theirs is the sound of the meek and mellow Joshua Collins and sexy, seductive Aziz Collins, both hailing from West Philly, both with the last name Collins (though they are not related) and both so very much in love with music. It was this love that spawned their brother-like kinship more than a decade ago when they first met in high school and set them on the path to start making beautiful music together.

Overwhelmed by the state of music today, from meaningless lyrics to selling out for fame, U.City (formerly known as United Soul) gets back to the basics bringing forth the essence of true artistry. "We find it our responsibility to put out music that means something," says Joshua. Their music touches on everything from love and relationships to politics and the struggles of ordinary people. "We’re just two everyday dudes that make music, music you can relate to," says Aziz.

And if being talented, conscious music makers wasn't enough, U.City is also a team of very accomplished songwriters. They've written for artists like Kindred and Joy Denalane and won the 2003 Heineken Music Initiative/ASCAP Foundation R&B Grant for their single "Best of Me." U.City has even graced the Hidden Beach Recordings compilation Hidden Hits Vol. 1 with their song "He Don't." "We've put a lot of effort into writing quality songs," says Joshua. "We are about our environment. That's the kind of people we are."

U.City's debut album "Reservations" won them praise from fans locally as well as abroad, and now with the upcoming release of their second album "The Fall" U.City continues doing what they do best, pumping positive soul-filled sounds into the universe.

It's evident that U.City is committed to one goal and one goal only. And that’s making good music, for themselves and for the people. For more information on U.City, check out www.myspace.com/ucitymusic.
- American Dreaming Magazine

"INTRVW: U.City"


With a professional resume that includes working with the likes of Kindred, Jean Grae and Little Brother, U.City is looking to breathe some life back into the city's soul scene with their sophomore album, The Fall. Considering the various cliques that don't always get along, the venues that aren't always receptive and the local listeners who are notoriously hard to impress, that's certainly no easy task. For the West Philly duo of Josh and Aziz Collins, they wouldn't have it any other way.

Phrequency: First, thanks for giving us and the fans an opportunity to get a better understanding of the men behind the music. Could you introduce yourselves?

Josh: I'm Joshua, from West Philly. I guess you could say University City, if that's not too wack (laughs)

Aziz: Aziz Collins, I grew up pretty much right around here. Grew up on 42nd St. Live on 41st St now. West Philly through and through.

P: How Long have you been recording music together?

A: Together, we've been a group since about 2001 and that was around the time I came home from school. I got back with Josh and we talked about it. He was singing with a group and I was doing a solo project. We had talked about doing something together and we decided to put together a group, which at the time was nameless, and we eventually became United Soul.

P: What prompted the name change from United Soul to U.City?

J: Well, several things. We were working with different people who I guess felt the name was kind of limiting us to just soul music and I guess we weren't so much locked into the name so we were willing to evolve and change over.

A: Even before we had a name we talked about making music and not necessarily getting stuck on one genre. As individuals, we like a wide range of music and the United Soul thing kind of came across like "they do Neo Soul". We wanted to switch it up to a name that didn't necessarily have us pigeon holed into one genre. With “U.City”, when you hear the name and don't hear the music, you don't know if it's rap, rock, R&B or what until you hear it.

P: What other genres besides soul do you think influence your sound?

J: I think we both listen to a little bit of gospel. Ironically you can say rap or hip hop. Rock stuff: Prince and Lenny Kravitz. Pop on some levels. Common, The Roots, Maroon 5, Franz Ferdinand.

A: Pretty much whatever feels good. We don't necessarily come out and say "ok, we're going to do THIS". If it feels good to us, we kind of assume other people are going to like it.

P: What would you say the differences are between this album and the last album creatively and sonically?

A: The last album, if you had to categorize it, would definitely fall into the Neo Soul category musically, and just the overall vibe of the album. At that time we had management and there were more people involved in our career as opposed to flashing forward to now. This album, there's some rock influenced stuff, there's some straight up R&B stuff, there's some stuff that still kind of soulful. From the business aspect, every aspect of this album was controlled by us. There was no management. It was just me and Josh and every single cent we could scrape up from our jobs to make the album happen. This album represents a growth in the group, and us not only becoming better artists but better businessmen.

P: Now that you've had that taste of creative freedom, do you ever see yourself going back to a label situation just to avoid having to worry about money, promotions and other things of that nature?

A: I wouldn't say it's impossible, because everything is negotiable, but for it to happen right now it would have to be on our terms. If somebody is willing to step into the picture and approach it like they're joining our team and understand where we are in our careers as artists and as writers, if they want to help us reach our goals the way we want to, then fine. If not, we're going to keep doing our own thing.

P: What helps you get through the struggle of creating art and continuing to create projects in addition to working a nine to five?

J: I guess I kind of like the grind. I like the idea that I work six days a week and do music after and people go "well you don't sleep enough". I like people saying that kind of stuff to me. You only got one life, and you gotta go hard, and I enjoy being tired because of it. The grind is beautiful.

A: The beautiful struggle, right?

J: Exactly.

A: I know for me, I go to my job and I look at everybody, and it's kind of sad to see people who go to work everyday and they're not necessarily happy, then they go home and there's not really anything going on, they just go back to work. For me, I'm working to support my music. The day job supports what I love. I think for us now, the music thing is almost not an option. It feels like something we have to do. Definitely there's a lot of days when we're both tired, but when you do a show and people come up to you showing love and give their hard earned money to buy you're project and tell you they love it...it's all worth it.

P: How long have you been working on this album?

A: I don't think we knew it at the time, but I would say several months after Reservations was over as far as being out and the album having ran its course, initially we were going to put out a remix album like a Reservations 1.5. While we were doing that ad trying to get placements with people, some oft those songs ended up being on The Fall album. I would say from 2006 to 2009 when this album came out, everything had been leading up to it.

P: What artists have you worked with on this album?

J: Only one, really. We worked with Dave Ghetto, a hip hop artist from New Jersey

A: As far as this album, The Fall is kind of the U.City coming out party. Whereas on the first album we had Phonte from Little Brother , Yahzarah, Darien Brockington, pretty much everybody who is on the new Foreign Exchange aproject.

J: Shout out to Foreign Exchange!

A: Yeah, those are our people, but as far as this album, we didn't really want to get into a whole bunch of features. This is U.City, this is what we do.

P: Tell us a little bit about this album release party you have coming up?

J: It's going to be an insanely energetic, soulful, hell of a time that I wouldn't miss. We're working the hardest we ever worked in our careers to make sure that y'all have a good time. There's going to be a few special guests we're going to sprinkle in there for the crowd's enjoyment. DJ Aktive is going to be spinning. We're going to play for y'all, rock out, then you guys can listen to DJ Aktive and chill maybe mingle a little.

A: Yeah, it's going to be a complete celebration. This is two and half years in the making.

J: World Cafe Live, Thursday night at 8:00 p.m. sharp. Be there or be square.

A: The word on the street is that all the square people will be home and all the cool people will be there.

J: It's going to be insane.

P: What's your take on the scene in Philadelphia, and how has it evolved since you guys started making music?

A: It's kind of funny because I went to school in North Carolina, and before Little Brother was Little Brother, Yazarah, Darrien, those were all my people down there, so we had our little thing going on down there and the whole time I was in school I was reading about Philly, Philly, Philly. That was when Black Lily was really poppin and you had The Roots, Bilal, Musiq, Jill, Kindred. I was super anxious to get back home and get on that scene, so it's kind of crazy to look from then til' now where pretty much all those people we know. We've written for some of those people and we've done shows with most of them, so that part is crazy from a group aspect, to kind of have become a part of that scene. At the same time, for me it seems like it kind of fell off. There's no real venue where people are performing like before. I remember coming home from break and going to Black Lily and seeing Kindred before they were signed and Jazmine Sullivan when she was like 16 killing it .That's what I want back. Right now it seems kind of dry, honestly. With the release of The Fall we're trying to bring that back and not only promote our album but in the near future have our own little venue, our own little night, where people come out and maybe spruce it back up. It's boring. Honestly I'm kind of bored with the music scene right now. It's very cliquish and people do their own thing. I'd like to see something where all the dope people congregate at least once a month.

J: Just music in general is changing, too. We came up on a certain brand of music, and I'm sure there are shows happening, but there's no venue like The 5 Spot. It's burned down. That's where 90% of my influence as far as soul came from, so it's kind of crazy. Any place else where they have shows is just not the same. The music scene in general is just different.

A: That's alright though. U.City is here to save the day. Plus we've got to find some new, dope artists.

P: A common theme amongst artists, particularly those doing traditionally black music, has been a lack of venues. Do you see that to be a problem in the city?

J: I agree. I think even with us doing this show at World Cafe, it's normally for indie rock bands. It's cool, but there's not really a lot of soul acts that do that venue. The 5 Spot is gone. Grape Street is gone. North by Northwest exists, but for a lot of people on public trans it's hard to get there. A lot of venues downtown really do rock, alternative and stuff like that.

A: We've tried to reach out to some of those venues and they kind of look at you like "what do you do? Nah."

J: I think what happens is that a lot of times a venue will have a night that's like "soul night" and then it just ends up being really poor. The people that come just act out and the talent is not really up to par. I think that a lot of times to venues, the events are trash sometimes and they think "I could have made more money if I'd just opened the bar to random customers". I think The 5 Spot kind of had a cult following, so there was a guaranteed bar there. I think it's one of those things where they're interested, but unless you're like "I'm the real deal and if I come, X amount of people are going to come to your venue and that's going to benefit you."

A: Really, we were lucky with how things worked out at World Cafe. It was basically a situation where we had our first album release there and it left enough of an impression where people at the venue remembered how crazy it was that night and that the line was up the the steps. It was crazy, so we were able to basically walk in the door and have them say yes. It's really a name recognition type of thing. Bilal hasn't released anything in a while, but it's going to be packed every time he performs because of that name recognition. There really aren't that many artists in Philly like that right now, and there really aren't any new artists out there with that cult following.

J: I think Philly is really over impressed. When you have somebody like Bilal come and kill it for years it's like you can't show us nothing. We've already seen the best. Even New York, outside of Soul Village, their stage is less soulful than Philly's, and they've got Philly musicians playing in New York. Philly musicians own the scene. From Pharrell to Kanye West, all the guys that are playing in our band play with those guys. We've got substitute guys that play with Common. It's crazy. I think the soul just lives here. We're content with being cool when we see a soulful show, but in New York they're like "Oh my god this is amazing, I've never seen anything like this before!"

P: As far as venues and establishing new artists, how can new artists establish themselves without first getting support from a venue? It seems like a catch-22.

A: Straight up and down, when Josh and I decided we were going to be a group, before we even had a name, we would literally walk around downtown and come up to a random person, usually a pretty female, and say "Excuse me for a minute, we sing. Can we sing for you?" We would just bust out singing, in the middle of downtown. "Cool, you like the way we sing? Okay, can we have your email address?" Going all around every single open mic we can find and asking "Can we have your email address?"

J: As I'm listening to this story I'm thinking "wow, that was so weird."

A: I mean, sometimes we would walk up on women and they'd be like "What? No, get away from me." (laughs) After a year or so of doing that and going to open mics, people started to recognize our faces. We would perform this song called "Don't Hesitate" and everybody knew it. You just have to submerge yourself in the scene. I would say it's harder now because there aren't as many places to go. There were about three or four different places for us to go. Now, John Barber does something at Lux Lounge, and I think they do something at World Cafe, but that's all I can think of. You really just have to be willing to sacrifice some time and get your name out there.

J: The company we go through, CD Baby, sends out an email saying certain things you need to do and one of them is you always need to be dope when you go out. You have to look like who you say you are, you have to sing like who you say you are. You basically have to be that guy and each show has to be an incredible show. For an up and coming artist it's definitely harder. Our fans are mostly our age, but there are people who associate soul music with Lil' Wayne playing guitar or John Legend shows. It's harder. You've got to be willing to pay to get into sing.

A: Also, as far as the musically landscape changed, when we were coming up, D'Angelo was still the dude. If you're just coming out now, are you gonna put a vocoder in your mouth or bring Autotune on stage? Also, we've been blessed to be able to write great songs, and that's what set us apart from a lot of other people. If you come out Thursday, February 26th to World Cafe you will get a little bit of it.

J: When is it?

A: Thursday, February 26th at 8 o'clock

J: Where is it?

A: World Cafe (laughs).

J: We, fortunately, are so open minded, that while today's up and coming singer only respects Usher, only respects Chris Brown, only respects T-Pain, only respects John Legend...we are still that, but still understand what Prince did, still understand what the Isley Brothers did, still understand what Marvin did. I think it's cool to say "shout out to soul music from back in the day" but to really embody it and still be as fresh as Common, Kanye or John Legend and be on that level. I mean, we could do a Chris Brown song, no problem.

A: No we can't (laughs).

J: Nah, man, I don't believe that. Not lovable Chris Brown (laughs).

P: You've mentioned great musicians, and I've been told time and time again that Philadelphia has some of the greatest musicians in the entire world. Who is playing in your band?

J: Right now we have some real dope, mostly unknown guys. Our keyboard player actually is a drummer at heart.

A: He went to University of The Arts and produced half the album. Mike Castro on keys.

J: He's crazy on keys, guitar, whatever we need him on. You just can't take him from us. Our bass player has been playing with us since 2002, a dude named Rodney Miller a.k.a. Rah The Sungod. We actually have a little sad moment, our guitar player, a dude named Stan Davis, who is actually plays keys for Kindred, he's getting ready to move to Atlanta so we have a new guy who is going to be subbing for us named Dai. I haven't even met him yet, but he's been playing with Jeff Bradshaw and playing with K'naan. Last but not least, our drummer is named Okwa Andrew.

A: Shout out to all the acts that stole our former musicians. Our former drummer, Jay Lawson, is on tour with Kanye now. Our keyboard player Chris Webber, he was with K'naan. We just have to make sure The Fall blows up and we get on a big tour before more of our band members get scooped up.

J: It's crazy man. We gotta keep rolling with it. As artists and musicians we kind of like to keep guys. You play with N.E.R.D., you're not going anywhere. That's the best band in the world.

P: You mentioned a number of artists in this interview so far. Who would be in each of your top fives?

A: Marvin Gaye. Prince. I'm gonna leave you some.

J: Nah, go ahead. It's cool.

A: Marvin Gaye. Stevie, obviously. I can't like, I was a die hard Jodeci fan, and of course D'Angelo.

J: Well spoken, man. Can't argue with that one. Well, let's see, I think my favorite artist has got to be D'Angelo. Dude is just stupid. The Roots. Brian McKnight. Mary Mary, that's one of my favorite gospel groups. Gotta say the Kast. Can't forget about Outkast. C'mon and put a real album out! Stop playing with this Idlewild crazy stuff. Do an album together, in the studio together. Like friends! (laughs)

A: That's how we're going to do our next one. We're going to call it 48th/41st and email tracks back and forth to each other. (laughs)

J: Yeah.

A: Oh, I left out the Isley Brothers. I would be seriously fronting if I left out the Isley Brothers.

P: What artists would you like to work with in the future?

A: I'm a Kanye fan, so I would definitely like to work with Kanye. For real, I think I'm less on names. Obviously there's a lot of big name people, but I want to work with a dope cat that pops up on Myspace or Youtube and I want to work with him before anybody else even knows who he is.

J: So many people. To take it back and do a song with Lauryn Hill would be cool.

A: Yeah, the old Lauryn Hill (laughs)

J: Yeah. Or take it back and do a song with like, Com, Mos Def, Dilla and all those guys.

A: I would have loved to do something with Dilla.

J: The Soulquarians, just to be associated with that group would have been crazy. To take it all the way back and do a song with Marv. He'd be like (singing Marvin Gaye style) "Ohh, get off my track now. You can't hang with me, no no". Marv had the peasiest chest hair I've ever seen (laughs). Marvelous Marv. He was getting chicks though. That's crazy. To put it in perspective, the superstars back then were like 40. You are the megastar and what the kids are bumping and grinding to. He was all old when "Sexual Healing" came out.

A: Times have changed.

P: What would you want your fans to take away from your music?

A: Well, so far I've learned that our male fans thank us for our slow songs because they say "they work very well" (laughs). In general, it just feels good to know that fans appreciate what you do. We spend a lot of time and energy working on our music. The simple fact that these songs that come from me and this man just sitting down after work and listening to tracks on repeat have people coming up to me and saying "Man, I love that song!" It's crazy to think that this is what I do because I love it, and at the end of the day if people keep loving these songs, we're cool.

A: Just to come out on Thursday and if you haven't purchased The Fall yet, you're pretty much missing out on the best album. Ever. It's probably the best $10 you can ever invest in yourself. Also, we do write some songs, and we did write a song on Kindred's album.

J: The Arrival, track 12.

A: Look out not only for The Fall, but the name U.City writing for other artists. We're trying to do our best to put Philly back on the map. - Phrequency.com


Reservations LP-2005

Soul Clap Featuring Yazarah and Phonte/I Believe-Single-2006

The Fall LP-2009



For many artists, appealing to diverse audiences is no easy feat. But for West Philadelphia natives Josh and Aziz Collins of the R&B/ Soul duo U.City (formerly United Soul), this task is accomplished with ease, style, and some very good music.

With their debut album "Reservations," released in 2005, U.City created a fusion of soul, rock, funk and hip hop all in one original sound. A sound that continues to engage crowds and make instant fans out of first-time listeners.

"Reservations" serves as a reminder of soul music as it once was. The project features music that "warms the heart and reminds one of love lost, found and yearned for," Aziz declares. Included on the album is the sultry single "Best of Me," which won the group the 2003 Heineken Music Initiative/ASCAP Foundation R&B Grant, an award that recognizes the best rising songwriters across the country. Another single, "He Don't," was featured on Hidden Beach Recordings' compilation album "Hidden Hits" released in 2003.

2008 found U.City with the release of their sophomore project, "The Fall," an album which will give fans a taste of something different. The music embodies a new spirit and represents the evolution of the group over the last three years. "Our sound is our own. It is exactly sincere; people don't have to feel like they are listening to soul artists trying to do rock, hip-hop, and pop," says Josh.

Not just stellar performers but gifted songwriters, the duo has impressed upon industry favorites, including husband and wife combo Kindred the Family Soul, who perform the U.City-penned track "Hey" on their third album "The Arrival." The group's talents also earned them a spot on the 2005 VH1 Soul Tour where they shared the stage with Kindred and Jaguar Wright in Washington D.C. and New York City.

Still, appreciation for U.City's work reaches far beyond the boundaries of their immediate region. The group made its international debut when they performed at the Jazz Cafe in London, leaving the crowd at once pleasantly surprised and anxious for more.

Though the two are not related by blood as their identical last names suggest, the kindred musical connection explains why Josh and Aziz identify as brothers. The artistic chemistry and vocal contrasts of the two, an ideal mixture of refined smoothness and raw strength, creates an unforgettable combination. And this combination continues to create work that will stand apart and ultimately bring authenticity and depth to an industry that is starving to be fed substance.