Tag Archives: Talib Kweli

Album of the Week: “Mos Def & Talib Kweli Are Black Star” by Black Star

Best-Hip-Hop-Album-Cover-621

Black Star
Mos Def & Talib Kweli Are Black Star
Rawkus Records, 1998

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Album of the Week: “Champion Sound” by Jaylib

Jaylib-Champion-Sound

Jaylib
Champion Sound
Stones Throw, 2003

Daniel’s Thought

Champion Sound was originally just a simple idea tossed around between J Dilla and Peanut Butter Wolf (Stones Throw founder). In actuality, it’s surprising that the project ever got off the ground at all. As it turns out, the project eventually evolved into Wolf connecting Dilla and Madlib, and in the months to follow the two artists sent each other beats to rap over (“L.A. To Detroit”).

As one might expect, Champion Sound celebrates these two renowned producers by omitting a rich and seductive record that is as lush as it is green. Furthermore, it’s solid from start to finish, hardly losing momentum, and presents a drooling doozy of sample-heavy beats and cuts. The rapping plays second fiddle to the production, but at this point that’s the whole point of this record. What should be celebrated is the variance and differences between these two legends, as they trade punches behind the production and provide a funny commentary on each others’ tracks.

Gus’ Thought

One of the best parts about the music of hip-hop is its potential for collaboration. If you break it down, hip-hop is collaboration in the sense that both an MC and producer are needed to write, record and perform a track. The other elements such as break dancing and graffiti can also be used to encourage people to work together, for a common goal, to produce art, a dance or song. There is nothing like a posse cut with a couple of your favorite MCs, each slaying the track in his/her particular style on the same song. On this type of posse cut or in a rap group, each artist is pushed to be the best they can be, utilizing all their talents for the collective. This always takes the music, art or dance to a new level.

One of the best examples of this from the early 2000s is the collaboration between producing giants J Dilla and Madlib. In 2003, under the moniker Jaylib, they released Champion Sound. This is one of those records where the beats are so incredibly on point that rapping over them seems secondary. These tracks are more than an instrumental for an MC; each track is a testament to the brilliance of J Dilla, Madilb and the art of hip-hop production. Half of the tracks feature Madlib beats with Dilla lyrics and vice versa, each complimenting the other with their unique approach to rapping and of course, beat making.

When listening to the record, the core of hip-hop production begins to take shape. The samples make use of several types of music, giving each track a distinct vibe. There are times when songs such as “McNasty Filth,” The Red,” “Heavy,” “Strapped,” and “The Official” have a weighty resonance using pounding bass, crackly snares and heavily strummed notes. At these times it feels that your head will never stop bouncing and your body won’t ever cease rocking. However, at other times there are tracks such as “Strip Club,” “Starz,” “The Mission,” “React” and “No Games” that groove hard, creating a loose, seductive ambiance. It should also be mentioned that Champion Sound is home to the best moment of any Talib Kweli show. On “Raw Shit” we hear Kweli reciting his famous call and response, “I love (I love) / That raw shit (that raw shit) / I like it (I like it) / I loves it (I loves it)” If you’ve ever seen Kweli live, it’s just too hype.

Within all of this, Dilla and Madlib draw from all sorts of songs past and present to create these various sounds. There is a Bavarian sounding jam from the 70’s by Paul Mauriat called “Melancholy Man,” a banger known as “Stomped and Wasted” from trumpet legend Dizzy Gillespie and a creepy, funk infused number from Throbbing Gristle known as “Persuasion.” The production side of hip-hop is so interesting because of what parts of a song each producer decides to sample and use. With that, hip-hop has been able to give new life to groups long past their prime and give listeners the chance to take part in research while expanding their musical vocabulary. This is the beauty of using samples as a means to making hip-hop music. Jaylib’s Champion Sound is an example of how it can and should be done. I like it, I love it.

Must-Listens

“The Heist”

“The Mission”

“The Red”

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The Art of 16 Bars: Common Sense Poetry

common

By: Justin Cook

Hip-hop is poetry, whether you’d like to admit it or not. I equate a great 16 bar verse to a great 14 line sonnet; sure, they are stylistically different, but both rely heavily on sound, meter and vivid imagery. Most people wouldn’t necessarily make this connection (imagine Shakespeare and Tupac freestyling with one another), but these two art forms are very intertwined. I feel the masses—especially Fox News fed White America—viewing hip-hop as a degrading art, not only to society, but to music and grammar as well. Being a poet, this frustrates the hell out of me. Some of the most honest and thought-provoking rhymes to come out in the past 20-30 years were from hip-hop artists; they are the poets of the people, the poets of the struggle. To combat this injustice in the hip-hop world, I bring to you The Art of 16 Bars. Every couple of weeks, I will break down one of my favorite MC’s lyrics.

To begin fittingly, I will discuss the poetry of Common, who is basically the poet in-residence of hip-hop. I mean, he got invited to Poetry Night at the White House, which freaked Conservatives the fuck out. They said he was a “thug” that supported “terrorists” (Assata Shakur)—man, could they be anymore off? Seriously, it’s time to set the record straight; this man has the heart and soul of a poet, spitting holy words of wisdom and health: that holistic language.

1.) Pharoahe Monch- “The Truth (featuring Common & Talib Kweli)”

Despite being a Pharoahe Monch song, Common’s verse is too good to pass up. This song gets into some real shit, real quick—by the time Common spits, my mind is already unraveling. His verse has two key elements: the internal rhyme scheme and the extended metaphor.

Common flips the internal rhyme on its head and gets meta as fuck:

“But the false prophets by tellin’ us we born sinners / Venders of hate, got me battlin’ my own mind state / At a divine rate, I ain’t in this just to rhyme great.”

In these lines, Common literally rhymes great while rhyming great; he rhymes multiple words with great (hate, state, rate), and by doing so, rhymes in a great way. Taking a step back from the words, the full poetic meaning comes into context: Common isn’t rapping just to rhyme, he’s rapping as a messenger of The Truth. He steps beyond aesthetics, unraveling a deeper meaning, by using aesthetics. Poetry!

He then concludes the verse with an extended metaphor, which I’m pretty sure contains the meaning of life:

“Took a picture of the truth and tried to develop it / Had proof, it was only recognized by the intelligent / Took the negative and positive, cuz niggas got to live / Said I got to get more than I’m given / Cuz truth’ll never be heard in religion / After searchin’ the world, on the inside what was hidden / It was the truth.”

He uses the metaphor of taking a photograph to the art of hip-hop, which led Common to his own understanding of the universe—in a sense, he is creating a “still life” within the poem. In the art of photography, it takes time to “develop” a picture, just as it takes time to develop MC skills; his “proof” are the words right in front of you. The “negative and positive” not only symbolizes the duality of life, but refers to developing negative and positive photographs. He ends the metaphor by bringing it back to The Truth, which he uncovered within himself through rapping—not through religion like commonly believed.

2.) Resurrection”

Just listen to this damn song. The assonance. The alliteration. The puns, punch-lines and metaphors. Everything about this track is on point. I’ll leave the poetry to Common.

3.) Aquarius”

Electric Circus is such an amazingly weird experience, and “Aquarius” is definitely one of the best cuts on the album. It is poetic in it’s odd delivery and interesting use of syntax. Common begins the track by comparing his wisdom to that of a revolutionary high:

“Nigga deep in the rhythm, experience speak / Some keepin’ the wisdom, the life hustlers seek / I seeking it with ‘em, I’m dope the streets need me to hit ‘em / With some of that (revolutionary rap) / Revolutionary blunted rap / My peoples want hits, I hit it from the back / Under the cherry moon, I hold notes and carry tunes.”

These lines are another example of extended metaphor; Common carries the metaphor of dope through multiple changes.  It starts in the streets, representing his wisdom, as what the people need. Then, it becomes “that/Revolutionary blunted rap” that gets passed around—revolving—to whoever wants a hit. He ends the metaphor as “the cherry moon,” giving it multiple meanings; one being the cherry of a blunt, holding in the hits, and the other being the red recording light, which shines as Common “holds notes” and raps in studio.

He also uses Aquarius very nicely as a reoccurring concept. Aquarius is an astrological sign, whose symbol is the water carrier; Common literally carries water as a metaphor throughout the song. He begins by mentioning “the Age of Aquarius,” which represents a shifting of human consciousness. He is making a connection between his knowledge, and the knowledge obtained during the Age of Aquarius: “water that arrives/to purify the world.” In the second verse, Common floods the verse with water metaphors and consciousness:

“Between churches and liquor stores, my mic leaks.” (…) “I flow over water that’s as troubled as teens / For the love of the team, trying to double the dream.” (…) “The black human genius will never play out /I take you way out, where you never been before / Been it since birth, sent to replenish the Earth.” 

All in all, this is one of Common’s strangest moments, but it’s truly a beautiful, empowering song. He’s got those “punch-lines like Roy Jones poems.”

4.) I Used To Love H.E.R.”


Like seriously, this is THE HIP-HOP POEM of all time, ever! This was one of the first songs that really made me realize that hip-hop is poetry; it functions as a poem much better than most rap music. He uses the trope of a young girl to explain his relationship with hip-hop, while in turn telling a story about the history of rap. It is thought-provoking and an example of why Common is that motherfucker. This man is a poet. He even starts the song with that classic hip-hop refrain:

“Yes, yes, y’all and you don’t stop / To the beat ya’ll and you don’t stop / Yes, yes, ya’ll and you don’t stop / 1, 2, ya’ll and you don’t stop / Yes, yes, ya’ll and you don’t stop / And to the beat Common sense’ll be the sure shot.”

5.) G.O.D. (Gaining One’s Definition) (featuring Cee-Lo Green)”

 

This song is just the gospel of life. It is one of Common’s finest moments, and Cee-Lo just makes the experience that much sweeter. If “The Truth” and “Aquarius” doesn’t solidify Common’s Buddha mind, “G.O.D.” seals the deal—I literally feel like an enlightened angel after listening to these golden bars. Just play the damn song, paying particular attention to these lines:

Understanding and wisdom became the rhythm that I played to
And became a slave to master self
A rich man is one with knowledge, happiness, and his health
My mind had dealt with the books of Zen, Tao, the lessons
Qu’ran and the Bible, to me they all vital
And got truth within ‘em, gotta read them boys
You just can’t skim ‘em, different branches of belief
But one root that stem ‘em, but people of the venom try to trim ‘em
And use religion as an emblem
When it should be a natural way of life
Who am I or they to say to whom you pray ain’t right
That’s who got you doing right and got you this far
Whether you say “in Jesus name” or “Hum do Allah”
Long as you know it’s a bein’ that’s supreme to you
You let that show towards other in the things you do
Cuz when the trumpets blowin’, 24 elders surround the throne
Only 144,00 gon’ get home

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Album of the Week: “Legends Never Die” by R.A. the Rugged Man

20130401-LEGENDS

R.A. the Rugged Man
Legends Never Die
Nature Sounds

By: Gus Navarro

R.A. the Rugged Man’s album Legends Never Die was released on April 30, 2013 to an eager fan base that’s been waiting nine years since R.A.’s last studio album. It debuted at number one on the Heatseekers Billboard chart and 131 on the Billboard 200. Legends Never Die backs up this positioning, because it’s a well-rounded hip-hop record in many aspects. Featuring Talib Kweli, Tech N9ne, Masta Ace and Brother Ali, there is lyrical variance that keeps the listener engaged. Also, the beats are always engaging with tracks produced by the likes of Buckwild, Marco Polo, Ayatollah and Apathy. What becomes clear throughout Legends Never Die however is the fact that R.A. is a fearless white boy, and you gotta love it.

As the album begins, we are hit with a jazzy intro in which R.A. introduces himself to the audience. “This for hip-hop heads, everyone else fuck your opinions / This ain’t generic pop novelty rap, I’m reigning supreme / You’re bout to hear a level of skill you won’t hear in the mainstream.” On tracks such as “The People’s Champ,” “Definition Of A Rap Flow,” “Underground Hitz” and “Laugh, Clown Laugh” R.A. establishes himself as an underground MC that represents the poverty stricken working class population in the United States. But also, he demonstrates his ability to write witty, complex and funny lyrics that will make you laugh and think. For example, on “Laugh, Clown Laugh” he states, “I got Louis Farrakhan dating a platinum blonde / I get skinheads bowing to Mecca and praying to Islam / I can’t afford Dre, Swizz Beatz or a Timbaland track / But I can rip any rapper with just a kick and a handclap.” It is fun to see how MCs put words together and construct their rhymes. With every song, the creativity is in your face in the best way and it is a good time. However, the album also contains more serious content.

“Learn Truth” features Talib Kweli accompanied by thoughtful riffs that put the listener in a reflective place. Talib and R.A. draw from history and current events to discuss the complexities of world politics. As Talib says, “Gotta race to meet Allah like they chasing them with a cop car / Like there’s honor in being a martyr and a terrorist is a rock star / Dodging the Abu Dhabi or dodging the paparazzi / Still probably as popular as Swastikas for Nazis.” In the second verse, R.A. draws from the past to shed light on the present, “.38 Beretta used by Ghandi’s assassin / 16 bullets in Malcolm, it happened uptown Manhattan / And the homicide, Reagan ‘80s epidemic of crack / And soldiers in action dying in Iraq and never coming back.” On R.A.’s more serious tracks, his fearlessness comes to the fore.

The lack of fear is perhaps at its height on “Shoot Me In The Head” where R.A. makes no friends and makes no attempt to do so. In the first verse, “I’m the lowest of the lowest life-forms /And I make it painfully obvious every time I write songs / I’m hated, got liberals begging for the death penalty / And conservatives wishing my mother aborted her pregnancy.” And then in the second verse, “Obama nation, the Bush’s, the Clinton’s, or 80’s Reaganomics / It don’t matter, the government always be taking your profits / The Republicans ain’t shit, the Democrats ain’t shit / What would make you think that either side is ever gonna change shit?” Here, R.A. is suggesting that if you boil it down, both sides of the two-party system in the United States are in fact quite similar. Because of this, the people who really need significant social, economic and political changes will continue to be marginalized.

As Legends Never Die progresses, R.A.’s in your face style can be a bit over the top, however I find it refreshing. He draws in the audience with entertaining, fast paced rhymes accompanied with distinct production. Some tracks are super witty, while others are solemn and deal with important issues that are relevant to 2013 and should be spoken about. Ultimately, I find R.A. the Rugged Man’s approach interesting as the frustrations of people outside politics are felt. 2013 is a year where the cooperation between Democrats and Republicans is at an all-time low. There are shootings, bombings and sexual assaults everyday and yet nothing gets done. R.A. the Rugged Man doesn’t provide any type of anecdote as to how to fix our problems. However, with Legends Never Die R.A. is unafraid to challenge the way we think about race, politics, war, money and rhetoric while describing the cyclical nature of the United States.  R.A. the Rugged Man truly pushes the audience to take stock of their values and think differently.

Must-Listens

“Learn Truth” 

“Definition of a Rap Flow” 

“Shoot Me in the Head” 

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Lost in Translation: Misconceptions from the outside on hip-hop, language and culture

Picture 6

By: Harry Jadun

Not too long ago in a Maize and Blue (University of Michigan) galaxy far, far away, student government candidates Mike Proppe and Bobby Dishell performed a publicity stunt in order to get votes. They hired Da’Quan (a Michigan student and YouTube sensation) to film a video. In the video, like many of his others, he exploits common stereotypes that hound both Black and hip-hop culture in order to gain attention while simultaneously endorsing Proppe and Dishell. The public outcry that resulted from the video was harsh, as many student organizations complained to the University, which forced Proppe and Dishell to take it down and apologize for uploading such a racist video.

A comedian’s job is to push the envelope of what’s acceptable. If a comedian isn’t doing this, he or she probably isn’t successful. From Tosh.0 to Dave Chappelle, funny men habitually feed off racial stereotypes and misconceptions that have formed in the minds of Americans in order to generate entertaining content. In the case of Da’Quan, University of Michigan students Mike Proppe and Bobby Dishell obviously wanted something geared towards a younger audience that would generate publicity, no matter if it was positive or negative. Clearly, the negative aspects outweighed the positive, as they were forced to apologize for making the video because it was found to be inherently racist. I do believe that this video has many racist qualities to it (such as the name Da’Quan). Despite that, Da’Quan’s language is in no way, shape, or form improper or uneducated, and this is important because it is a microcosm of the lack of respect for hip-hop culture as a whole.

The way that Da’Quan talks (although he takes it over the top) in the video has become synonymous with hip-hop in today’s world and is often labeled as broken English. This idea could not be further from the truth, as the way Da’Quan talks is recognized by linguistic experts across the globe as an independent language, commonly referred to as Black Language or Ebonics. Michigan State University professor and distinguished scholar on Black Language, Geneva Smitherman, shoots down all of the misconceptions that constantly hound Black Language in her book, Talkin That Talk:

“Ebonics is emphatically not ‘broken’ English, nor ‘sloppy’ speech. Nor is it merely ‘slang.’ Nor is it some bizarre form of language spoken by baggy-pants-wearing Black youth. Ebonics is a set of communication patterns and practices resulting from Africans’ appropriation and transformation of a foreign tongue during the African Holocaust” (Smitherman 19)

This makes sense, as the dictionary defines a language as “a body of words and the systems for their use common to a people who are of the same community or nation, the same geographical area, or the same cultural tradition.” That definition of language, along with Smitherman’s point that Black Language has unique syntactic and phonological features, makes it clear that Black Language is its own individual language, as it originated from a group of people with a common cultural tradition.

On paper, the existence of Black Language sounds legitimate. The problem is that those who have not studied linguistics do not respect it as such. It is commonly referred to as “street slang” or other less than endearing names with negative connotations. This is due to the fact that the language originates from Black (as well as hip-hop) culture. Because of the dominant culture of white supremacy and “standard English,” Black Language fails to garner the respect it deserves. “Standard,” “proper” or anything along those lines are only arbitrary titles that the powers that be (White America) put on a certain way of speaking. Just because these words are not found in the Oxford English Dictionary doesn’t mean that they are not respectable or intelligent words. Fuck, a red line still appears under the word “frindle.”

Stanford professor and renowned linguistics expert H. Samy Alim articulates this concept a lot more elegantly than I can:

“The fact that is the language and communicative norms of those in power, in any society, that tend to be labeled as ‘standard,’ ‘official,’ ‘normal,’ ‘appropriate,’ ‘respectful,’ and so on, often goes unrecognized, particularly by the members of the dominating group” (Alim 57).

In this case, White America has completely ignored and demeaned an essential part of Black/hip-hop culture, and has punished blacks for not conforming to their standards. According to Wichita State professor William Thomas, “The way a person talks, a person’s language, is part of him, part of his culture, part of his self-pride, and part of his very identity” (4). From that viewpoint, it is easy to understand why hip-hop artists proudly use Black Language in their songs: Black Language represents their individuality, history and pride.

Calling Black Language improper (or any other adjective along those lines) also implies that the language is uneducated. I understand that Da’Quan takes it over the top (as any comedian would), but the way that he speaks in this video is not uneducated by any stretch. Labeling it as uneducated is practicing language supremacy, which is defined by Alim as the “unsubstantiated notion that certain linguistic norms are inherently superior to the linguistic norms of other communities” (Alim 13). How are we supposed to say one way of speaking is better than others? Is England’s form of English better than ours? Is Arabic superior to Spanish? This is a huge problem throughout America, and instead of disparaging somebody else’s way of speaking, we should be practicing language equanimity, which is described as the “structural and social equality of languages” (Alim 14). Honestly, I hang around people that are very “educated” and are attending some pretty esteemed colleges. Constantly, we pick up phrases that come from the mouths of these so-called “uneducated thugs” because they express our actions and feelings a lot better than “proper” English. Rather than harping on hip-hop artists for their illiteracy, we should be praising them for their ill literacy (shoutout to Alim for the wordplay). Dr. Smitherman put it best when she said: “hip-hop is a barely explored reservoir of linguistic riches” (Smitherman 155).

If anything, the ability to carve phrases and expressions from scratch that replace “standard” sayings reflects the remarkable capacity for creativity within hip-hop culture. What is considered hip-hop language is never constant and ever-changing; it’s flowing. This idea is perfectly summarized by Jubwa of the hip-hop group Soul Plantation when he explains:

“It’s not defined at any state in time, and it’s not in a permanent state. It’s sorta like—and this is just my opinion—it seems to be limitless. . . So, I feel that there’s no limit and there’s no real rules of structure, because they can be broken and changed at any time. And then a new consensus comes in, and then a new one will come in. And it will always change, and it will always be ever free-forming and flowing. . .” (Roc the Mic Right, 14)

This quotation can be attributed to hip-hop culture as a whole, as artists are constantly redefining what hip-hop is. From Anthrax’s contributions to Public Enemy’s “Bring tha Noize” to A$AP Rocky’s collaboration with Skrillex on “Wild for the Night,” the line between hip-hop and everything else is constantly being blurred.

The lack of respect in relation to the language of hip-hop is an issue that plagues the culture as a whole. For example, I remember listening to Kanye West’s “Family Business” in my car and my girlfriend’s mom told me to “Turn off that nonsense.” The fact that Kanye is a “rapper” formed such a negative preconception that she wouldn’t even give the song a chance. What made this so much more frustrating was the fact that “Family Business” is the worst song for her to call “nonsense” because it is an upbeat song reminiscing about all the great memories and experiences that come from having a tight knit family. ‘Ye even touches on the stereotypes that prevented her from understanding the meaning of the song: “I woke up early this morning with a new state of mind/A creative way to rhyme without usin’ knives and guns.” This was a Wesley Snipes-Woody Harrelson moment that happens to hip-hop fans on a regular basis: people unfamiliar with hip-hop listen to the music, but pre-existing stereotypes prevent them from hearing it. Anybody who has been in this situation can certainly relate to the frustration that I felt, as there was nothing I could do to get her to hear KanYe.

This preconceived notion that hip-hop brings nothing of substance to the metaphorical table ruins the experience of hip-hop for too many people. This misconception typically forms from the artists’ language, which is not a logical reason to discard an artist’s voice. I understand that some hip-hop artists’ intellectual ceilings top out at “fucking bitches and getting money,” but that should not prevent people from hearing conscious artists such as Talib Kweli or Kendrick Lamar, especially when these artists are the lone voices blowing the whistle on social injustices that go unnoticed in urban areas across the globe. Although people like Proppe, Dishell and Da’Quan mock the language of hip-hop, we must fight against these stereotypes ingrained in society regarding Black Language, because it is not until the mainstream media and the court of public opinion start respecting every aspect (including the language) of hip-hop culture that the essence of hip-hop can truly flourish.

Works Cited

Alim, H. Samy, John Baugh and Geneva Smitherman. Talkin Black Talk: Language, Education, and Social Change. New York: Teachers College, 2007. Print.

Alim, H. Samy. Roc the Mic Right: The Language of Hip Hop Culture. New York: Routledge, 2006. Print.

Smitherman, Geneva. Talkin That Talk: Language, Culture, and Education in African America. New York: Routledge, 2000. Print.

Thomas, William J. Black Language in America. Vol. XLIX. Wichita: Wichita State University, 1973. Print.

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Show Review: Talib Kweli at The Pyramid Scheme

kweliintersection

By: Gus Navarro

For me there are two factors above all else that determine the talent of an MC. Their abilities in the studio are clearly important, but also their capacity to rock a live show. I have seen groups such as the Cool Kids–that while I love their music, didn’t have a great live show. I still enjoy the Cool Kids and listen to their music often, but would think twice about paying to see them again. To a certain extent, a Hip hop show is expected to be loud and you’re supposed to feel the thump of the bass in your chest. However, with the Cool Kids it was impossible to hear their lyrics, and difficult to figure out which song was being played. Recently, I saw Talib Kweli at the Pyramid Scheme in Grand Rapids, Michigan. To put it simply, the night was a bit wild.

Forty-five minutes after the second opening act, a female MC by the name of Mama Sol that is worth checking out, Kweli still hadn’t come on stage. Rumors started flying around that he was held up and would not be coming to perform at all. After a solid hour, there was still no sign of him. By this time, people were becoming agitated and some considered leaving. Then out of nowhere, his Dj showed up, and about five minutes later Kweli was on stage and the show began. Sporting sunglasses, a blue hoody and green hat with the word “ninjas” across the front, he proceeded to “rock the mic.” He performed new music from his upcoming album Prisoner of Conscious, and the classic material including “Get By,” “Move Somethin,” “Definition,” “Re: Definition” and “In This World.”

About halfway through the set he apologized to the crowd for being late and explained what had held him up. According to Kweli, he had three different flights cancelled out of New York due to the east coast blizzard. Because of this, he took a taxi down to Philadelphia, flew to Detroit, and then was driven from Detroit to Grand Rapids. I can only imagine how exhausted I would have been after such a travel fiasco. Despite this, Kweli came straight from the road to the stage and had the crowd rocking with him within his first song. He left the stage with huge cheers from the crowd that quickly became a chant for him to return. After about five minutes he came back and did about six more songs that included his verse from the Kanye West classic “Get Em High” and finished the encore with “I try” from his 2004 album The Beautiful Struggle. With that, the concert ended and my friends and I headed home, later than anticipated, but in awe of what we had just seen.

I realized on the way home that I had just witnessed Hip hop in its purest form. Talib Kweli was able to find energy to perform after a long day of travel because sharing stories with an audience is his craft. Beyond that, rapping is his vocation. He has reached the point in his career where his lyrics are not simply “memorized,” rather his words and lyrics are a part of who he is. Talib Kweli was able to share his artwork with crowds across the country because he understands that an important part Hip hop is engaging a crowd while spreading the messages of revolution, decolonization, love and progress. This is not a mainstream message, and will not be heard on the radio, which is what makes Kweli revolutionary in his own right.

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