Mos Def, Talib Kweli, Jay Electronica, DCQ, Spoke-In-Wordz
Friday, August 21, 2009
Better Than: anything Lil Wayne or Drake could pull off
Mos Def hasn't headlined a nationwide tour since the Lyricist Lounge tour in 2000, where he recruited folks like Bernie Worrell (of Parliament-Funkadelic), Dr. Know (of Bad Brains) and Will Calhoun (of Living Colour) to form the band, Black Jack Johnson. After that tour he took a break to focus on his acting career. But now the Mighty Mos has returned for a national tour in support of his exceptional new album, The Ecstatic. He also brought along Talib Kweli and DJ Hi-Tek reunited as Reflection Eternal and Jay Electronica, an up and coming MC with superb skills, but is probably more famous for fathering Erykah Badu's third child.
The evening started on time with opening sets from Denver emcee Spoke-In-Wordz with DJ Chonz, who was followed by Mos Def's younger brother DCQ. I arrived to the Gothic late and missed both Spoke and DCQ's set but word within the crowd was that Spoke killed it, and DCQ put the crowd to sleep. I also missed most of Jay Electronica's set except for the last two songs. And while the last two from Jay was a solid performance, there was grumblings in the crowd that he talked too much during the set and didn't showcase enough of his music, which is a criticism that has followed him since coming on the scene. Regardless, his skills on the mike are unquestionable.
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Shortly after Jay left the stage and mingled in the crowd, DJ Hi-Tek went behind the turntables to the sounds of the cheering audience. He introduced Talib Kweli who took the stage to the sounds of "Down for the Count" from the Reflection Eternal album. Kweli and Tek continued with selections from their first and only album together including "Eternalists," and "Too Late." They performed a couple of new songs from their reunion album Revolutions Per Minute, including the first single "Back Again." The reasoning for their initial hiatus was that Hi-Tek wanted to work on different projects and didn't want to be just identified as a producer for "backpack rap." But the chemistry he and Kweli have is undeniable in the new music. While Kweli's stage show consists of just him and a microphone, he's able to get the crowd amped and into what he's doing. But that's easy when the music you've created is considered classic. The set continued with a mix of traditional Reflection Eternal, some Talib solo joints like "Say Something" and "Never Been in Love," and even some select songs from Hi-Tek's solo albums. The duo ended their set on Talib's hit, "Get By," but it wouldn't be the last we saw of them.
Mos Def began his headlining set playing the drums and performing selections from The Ecstatic including "Priority," "Twilite Speedball" and "Auditorium." Matter of fact, I think he played almost every song from the album by the end of the night. Midway through his set, fans were chanting for Mos to perform "Ms Fat Booty," his hit from his debut album, Black on Both Sides. Mos was annoyed.
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"I hate that shit," he told the crowd. "We're in charge of the music tonight!"
Later on, Mos would become annoyed with a couple of people in the crowd again. There was a group in the front passing a blunt around and blowing smoke towards the stage.
"Don't blow that smoke up here man," Mos said giving a stern look to the fans. "I need my lungs tonight."
The rest of the set went on without incident as he played soul samples between songs and offered up a fun Michael Jackson tribute performing "Billie Jean." He also had a reggae tribute that lead into "Definition" with Talib Kweli running onstage. They also performed "Respiration," from the Blackstar album and "History" from The Ecstatic. Mos continued with more songs from the new album, which had him going back and forth from his drum set. He even performed "Travelling Man" a slick collaboration with DJ Honda that fans forget about. Mos ended his set on the drums playing to the Jackson 5's "Can You Feel It." He left the stage but Jay Electronica hopped on the mike and got the crowd to chant Mos Def's name. It worked as Mos returned and performed "Brown Sugar" and "Re: Definition" with Kweli. The crowd had to be more than satisfied.
Personal Bias: I went on tour with Mos Def and Talib Kweli in 2000 hung out with Jay Electronica when he lived in Denver 10 years ago.
Random Detail: The Gothic was so hot, Mos asked the lights be kept low and red for his set.
By the Way: Jay Electronica and Mos Def are working on an album together tentatively titled Simpatico.