Rap's "People's Champions" Tell Fans "Your Lives Matter!"
Photos by Marco Torres
The People's Champions Tour feat. Talib Kweli & Immortal Technique Warehouse Live April 3, 2015
"It's a revolutionary (party), they ask me what I'm writin' for I'm writin to show you what we fightin for!"
When it comes to the real hip-hop, the one that inspires thought to aid one's own self-identification, the music of Talib Kweli will always be at the forefront of that discussion. In him, we find a supremely intelligent spokesperson who educates his fans with lyrics about the realities of the world and calls for change, starting with the world's youth.
"Fuck celebrities," he stated near the ending of his show at Warehouse Live this past Friday night. "Y'all are the new leaders. Your lives matter. Young people matter!"
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For the roomful of hip-hop fans who were there, this was exactly the type of message they showed up to hear. Maybe not a political rally, but a social awareness reminder. Hip-hop is not always about cars and girls and money, and combined with the mastery of words from Talib Kweli, the message shines bright.
Of course, being the superb entertainer that he is, Kweli sprinkled his set with classic hip-hop and R&B, as well as tracks from his projects with Hi-Tek, Mos Def and Kanye West. Hearing "The Blast," Get 'Em High" and "Definition" live will make any rap fan's night/week/month.
What will always amaze me the most is seeing the breaths and cadence of an MC as he spits his rapid-fire rhymes. Kweli's career spans 20 years, and he is as relevant and talented as ever. He may not be the best rapper alive, but he's definitely in the top 5 percent. Plus he is good friends with Bun B and also married to DJ Eque, who calls Houston her home. I'm sure we will see Talib in H-Town again.
On the other end, the rapper known as Immortal Technique served as the other headliner. Looking over my notes, I wrote only a few things I overheard during his set:
"Fuck Bush. Fuck ignorance. Fuck the rich. Fuck the police."
I think it's safe to say that this gentleman can be classified as militant. And I'm not saying that's a bad thing. He is supremely passionate about his beliefs, and uses his booming voice as an instrument to empower. Its almost like Technique feeds off of controversy and anger, and funnels that power into his pronounced rhymes.
In the track "Dance With The Devil," he showcases his gift as a storyteller. The hook for "Harlem Streets" states that he is "a Harlem nigga, that's concerned with the future." It's obvious that he is opinionated and passionate, something that is refreshing in this era of club bangers and booty music. "Golpe De Estado" was a track that hit me especially hard as I stood near the stage -- rapping en español will never not be awesome.
"I love your energy, Houston" said Technique before jumping off the stage. "This is a call to action...cuz sometimes you just have to stand up like a man and knock someone out."
That last line, along with encouraging people to steal/bootleg his music, was definitely a bit ironic since he was recently arrested for allegedly assaulting two vendors in California last month who were caught selling unauthorized T-shirts with his resemblance and logo. He may not have control over his temper, but Technique has the stage presence and charisma to inspire and empower his fans.
"We are all one, regardless of our birthplace."
Talib Kweli and Immortal Technique, the unifiers of hip-hop. Champions of the people. And damn good lyricists.
Story continues on the next page.
Personal Bias: "The Blast" is definitely one of my favorite tracks of all time.
The Crowd: Hip-hop heads mixed with scenesters. I enjoy watching the variety of people that attend Scoremore shows.
Overheard In the Crowd: "Fuck the police! Except your dad...he's cool" -- A dude near the front to his friend
Random Notebook Dump: It was kinda odd that Immortal Technique held his meet & greet and sold his merch during Talib's set. That basically cannibalized Talib's crowd. Fun show either way, though.
When he's not roaming around the city in search of tacos and graffiti, Marco points his camera lens towards the vibrant Houston music scene and beyond. Follow his adventures on Instagram at @MarcoFromHouston.
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