|Photos by Ben Brennan|
Hip-hop is a peculiar thing. Not only is it a genre of music, it's an art form as well. Unlike any other genre, when an artist makes a command, the audience immediately complies. When they spit rhymes, verse after verse, they take their willing participants on a journey to places most will never experience. Hardship, struggle, love, and to a place where a bitch or a ho is either a cowardly male or the main girl that has caught some young man's eye.
Talib Kweli is one of the few rappers that takes his fans to a place of questions, confusion and doubting everything they knew hip-hop to be. He asks them to ask themselves what is wrong with this picture when they listen to other records or even read the news. His commandments are simple and sweet, all he wants is for fans to just "listen." Last night at the Meridian, "listen" is exactly what they did.
After waiting almost 30 minutes for a M.I.A. Talib, the fans became restless. So hyped were they from the opening acts, they didn't seem like they could wait anymore. Yelling his name like a battle cry, without knowing he wasn't even in the building, these troops were ready to be led wherever Kweli took them.
Indeed, he did deliver, with his quick-witted, simplistically sweet, make-you-wanna-say "Damn, boy"-like-Flava-Flav rhymes. Taking the stage with his wife, Willowridge High alumna DJ EQUE (right) on the turntables, doing multiple numbers with Strong Army Steady - and even one with Houston's own Paul Wall - Kweli definitely threw it down.
But these were not the moments that made this show memorable. No, it was things like DJ Rappin' Rick keeping a tired and impatient crowd at bay with his crazy abilities on the 1s and 2s. There was Louisiana rapper Black Boy opening his set with a song for the ladies. Zin mixed jazz and little bit of rock with intellectual rhymes meant to stir the soul.
Sunni Patterson (above) - who took the stage with one very special guest, her newborn son - spat pure poetry about living in a war zone here in the States. Only standing next to a 14-year-old kid who was there with his dad, watching the show through his eyes with no expectations or criticism, opened Aftermath's mind up for a purely enjoyable night.