Saturday Night: Talib Kweli At House Of Blues
For more shots of Fat Tony, Talib Kweli, etc., see our slideshow here.
Once upon a time, Talib Kweli was poised to become a mainstream hip-hop success. His blend of conscious rhymes with accessible beats made him a force in rap. Peers, from Jay-Z to Kanye West, constantly showered him with adulation. But Kweli could never figure out how to make that big leap without compromising his message.
The reason to continue to root for dudes like Talib Kweli and Mos Def is that occasionally they turn conscious rhymes into compelling albums. Aftermath arrived at House of Blues pregnant with anticipation, eager to experience the live rendition of Kweli's hit catalog.
Around 9:20 p.m, the first opening act, O.N.E., took to the stage and plugged his Twitter page in between songs. Oh, how times have changed. Up next was the Niceguys, whose spirited rendition of "Mr. Perfect" drove House of Blues to a frenzy.
When the event's host, MC H-Kane, announced, "This next act is from Brooklyn," the crowd expected to see Talib Kweli. Instead, BK group 4th N Inches graced the stage as boos rang out from the audience. Like Cali Swag District with a better wardrobe consultant, 4th N Inches is an anthem-happy hip-hop group, and spent the next 20 minutes pondering the politics of cheese and hood rats over B-rate instrumentals.
Those boos had now been replaced by a deafening silence. At one point, a member of 4th N Inches tossed his hat into the crowd, expecting people to go nuts over it. It landed at some dude's feet, so he picked it up and flung it back at the artist. Ouch.
Heeeere's Fat Tony!
Around 10:18, the crowd started chanting "Kweli! Kweli!" A whiff of marijuana mixed with boredom wafted across the room. To raise the venue's temperature, DJ Good Grief played some classic hip-hop cuts.
In an unexpected, entertaining twist, Fat Tony showed up and energized the crowd to the tune of "Like Hell Yeah." Tony is truly a throwback MC, a performer versed in the art of moving the crowd. A fan offered him a glass of beer in appreciation. He ran across the front of the stage while rapping and holding the drink the entire time. In case you're curious, he didn't spill any of it.
Around 10:55, an Astros-hat clad Kweli emerged onstage and launched into a high-energy rendition of "Move Something," a highlight off Reflection Eternal's debut LP. It was a sign of things to come, as the rest of the night would be heavy on Reflection Eternal cuts.
No surprise there. Kweli crafted some of his best work within the Reflection Eternal framework. The way his razor-sharp voice slid behind producer Hi-Tek's dusty, hard-wired beats made their songs underground classics.