Philadelphia's Tastytreats hip-hop club party has stood the test of time

Stacey "Flygirrl" Wilson co-founded the hip-hop party.
Stacey "Flygirrl" Wilson co-founded the hip-hop party.
Posted: August 16, 2010

NINE YEARS IS a long time; in the fast-paced nightclub world, it's practically an eternity. In nine years, a 12-year-old kid comes of age as a legal drinking customer, while a 21-year-old segues to 30, perhaps with a family, a mortgage and no time for wild weekends.

Between the changes in the crowds and the changes in music itself, it's little wonder that most club parties are relatively short-lived. But in Philadelphia's hip-hop scene, Tastytreats has been the exception. This weekly event, most recently held at Fluid Nightclub on South 4th Street, has remained a Saturday night tradition for almost a decade.

The party has hosted a long list of famous guest DJs, album releases and special events.

"We did Gangstarr's album release party where Guru hosted and Premier spun," said Tastytreats co-founder Stacey "Flygirrl" Wilson. "Our five-year anniversary party . . . Melle Mel came and hosted out of nowhere."

Pretty much every big-name hip-hop DJ has rocked this party, including DJ Scratch, Rich Medina, Q-Tip, Cash Money, 9th Wonder, DJ Jazzy Jeff and Pete Rock. During this ninth-anniversary year, the special guests are stopping by monthly; look for Bushwick (Brooklyn, N.Y.) crew Da Beatminerz on Aug. 21.

"I've been going to Tastytreats since way back when it was at Filo's," said local DJ and WKDU (91.7 FM) radio host Lil' Dave.

"It's rare that you can have a party that plays this type of music and have it on a weekly basis. I've gotten to play at Tastytreats four times, and every time has been a blast. They have a great crowd that knows their music and is eager to get on the dance floor."

In many ways, Tastytreats' story is Wilson's.

The now-33-year-old came to the city fresh out of high school from Levittown, Bucks County, to study art.

"I went to Hussian School of Art on 11th and Market," she recalled. "It's a small school that only has two majors. Either you're an illustrator or a designer. I didn't really know what I was when I went in. I didn't even know if I was an artist."

Eventually, she would find her calling in the field of design. Meanwhile, with the financial realities of big-city college life looming, she needed a way to make ends meet. And since her classes were during the day, a night job seemed the best choice.

She started working for local nightclub impresarios Robert and Benjamin Bynum at Deluxe, then later became a manager at their restaurant/jazz spot Zanzibar Blue and at their club Brave New World.

The latter gave Wilson the practical experience to branch out on her own in party promotion. While working there, she also did advertising for party promoters like Carl Dash and John Barber. (She continues to do design and promotion work for various clients, along with creating her own art.) The Brave New World job also introduced Wilson to Tastytreats' two other co-founders, local emcee Yameen Allworld and Roots drummer Ahmir "?uestlove" Thompson.

"I met Ahmir and Yameen and the three of us became really great friends. I think at the time we were noticing a lack of what we wanted to do going on," she recalled. "Everything was based around the mainstream, so we felt that there was a void. Then we had a friend that was working at Filo's at the time, and he suggested that we do a party there."

And so it began. In May 2001, Wilson, Allworld and Thompson opened Tastytreats to the masses at Filo's. The response was incredible, to say the least.

"For the first two years we were at Filo's, which is now Xochitl on 2nd and Pine, we packed the place," Wilson said. "Upstairs and downstairs, every week. People were spilling onto the streets. It was quite ridiculous."

It became apparent that the party had outgrown Filo's and needed to move on. With an invitation extended from the manager of Fluid, Tastytreats moved to the bigger venue, adding Mike Nyce as a resident DJ along the way.

For Wilson, the success of Tastytreats led to more parties, shows and events. Recently, she's thrown her promotional skills behind a project called "Inside the Studio."

"It's like 'Inside the Actors Studio,' essentially," she said. "There's a stage setting at Warmdaddy's [the Bynum brothers' blues club and restaurant on Delaware Avenue] and our host is Laiya St. Clair, who used to be on the morning show with Monie Love and Poochman on 100.3-The Beat. AfroDJiak is our DJ. It's essentially intimate conversations [with people who] are on top in Philadelphia musically and artistically."

So far, the event has hosted North Philadelphia's Freeway, and the Roots' lead vocalist Tariq "Black Thought" Trotter.

Moreover, in 2009, the Greater Philadelphia Tourism and Marketing Group's Philly 360ยบ initiative recognized Wilson as one of the city's creative ambassadors.

Despite her success, Wilson has no plans to rest on past accomplishments, knowing all too well the fate of events and venues that have failed to stay relevant in the minds of fickle clubgoers.

When asked what has let Tastytreats survive and thrive in this volatile scene, Wilson replied: "I think consistency. Even though we play classic hip-hop, funk, and soul, and we still play some progressive and current music, it's not the stuff you hear on the radio all day."

In the end, that's what Tastytreats does best.

Every week, the party offers an escape from clubs that play the same 25 songs that can be heard over and over on any mainstream radio station. Unfortunately, one party does not a scene make; in the nine years since Tastytreats began, many other innovative events have crashed and burned or slowly fizzled out.

Wilson, however, offered these words of advice to would-be and up-and-coming promoters looking for the same success she has found: "Have a love of doing what you're doing. If you love it and want it, you're going to make it happen."

Tastytreats, Fluid Nightclub, 613 S. 4th St., 10 p.m. Saturdays, cover fee varies (ladies free before 11 p.m.), 215-629-3686, www.fluidnightclub.com.

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