Black Star feat. Mos Def & Talib Kweli House of Blues September 8, 2011
Mos Def knows how to make an exit. With the lights dimmed and the curtains dancing toward the middle, Mos Def stayed on stage and shimmied to the beat of Archie Bell & The Drells' "Tighten Up." The show had already ended and the room was now half empty, but Mos wasn't done partying.
His face beaming with smiles, his shoes imitating a scissors, Mos didn't look a man who, alongside Black Star partner Talib Kweli, had just breezed through 26 songs.
A couple hours earlier, House of Blues was teeming with fans horny for Black Star's intricate delight. Around 10:30 p.m., the curtains opened to reveal J. Rocc of the Beat Junkies on the wheels of steel, who did a brilliant job of priming the crowd for about 20 minutes.
With the crowd thoroughly warmed up and "Astronomy (8th Light)" blasting, Mos Def and Talib Kweli graced the stage looking like fashion polymaths. Mos was rockin' a white dress shirt, black tie, and civil rights era denim slacks; Kweli opted for a vest suit, a black tie and a black fedora.
Black Star thrilled the crowd with dense rhymes and stolid beats throughout, performing Mos Def & Talib Kweli Are Black Star in its entirety. These guys have a superior command of the English language and every rhyming technique in the book; they can rhyme about nothing and make it sound deep.
Designed for the hip-hop cognoscenti who still swear by Jansport, Black Star's debut is rich in substance. Thursday night, you could hear the duo hearkening to an era long gone, summoning a discipline familiar to few rappers, moving the crowd.
At a time when jiggy was the name of the game, Hi-Tek cranked out dusty beats and Mos and Talib made music for a generation lusting for change. Black Star perfectly positioned them as leaders of reflective aesthetes. They made conscious cool, raw lyrical, smart sexy.
Over a decade later their rapport is still in tip-top shape; Mos and Kweli = a true duo, a force without a weak link, hip-hop's peanut butter and jelly. Kweli's peppy flow complements Dante's calm voice.
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Their debut wasn't perfect, but it felt bigger than any of their solo efforts. Surely, it was uneven and occasionally goofy, but it showed promise and soundtracked a generation on the cusp of a movement. It meant something. And standouts like "Respiration," "Thieves in the Night," "Definition," "Re:Definition," "Brown Skin Lady" all survive examination 13 years later.
When they were done with their 13-song opus, they came back for an encore capped off by two solo cuts that rival anything on Black Star--"Get By" and "Umi Says."
The curtains finally met but you'd swear you could still see Mos beaming in the dark.
Personal Bias: Duh.
The Crowd: Grown and sexy.
Overheard In the Crowd: "That's real music! Turn off the radio!!"
Random Notebook Dump: Mos kicked a freestyle in which he addressed himself as Yasiin Dante. Which made us realize "Oh shit! He's serious about this name change thing." As long as he keeps making songs like "Umi Says" he could change his name to MC Booty Chains for all we care.
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Astronomy (8th Light) This Means You Definition Re: Definition Auditorium Children's Story Brown Skin Lady The Blast B Boys Will B Boys K.O.S. (Determination) Freestyle Respiration Thieves in the Night Twice Inna Lifetime
Supreme Supreme History Supermagic Never Been in Love Ms Fat Booty Pistola Move Somethin' Get By Umi Says