February 14, 2016
The politically minded Brooklyn rapper Kweli teams up with the Soul Rebels, one of the most musically adventurous of young New Orleans brass bands. A socially conscious party should ensue. Wednesday at the Theatre of Living Arts.
November 1, 2004 |
When you've been waiting for five years, what's another 2 1/2 hours? Saturday night at the Electric Factory, the packed house had much to look forward to: the return to rhyming of Mos Def, the rapper/actor whose The New Danger is his first album in five years; plus his only scheduled U.S. tour date with Talib Kweli, his partner on the landmark 1998 conscious rap collaboration, Black Star. So the assembled hip-hop heads were relatively easygoing when the opener, J-Live, was a no-show, and the hours passed without any entertainment other than records by LL Cool J, Rob Base, and the Roots.
December 9, 2005 |
Jay-Z called him your favorite rapper's favorite rapper. Mos Def, with whom he's touring, made him the yin to Def's yang as Black Star. Critics hailed him as a lion of Afro-conscious lyricism and a funky practitioner of flow. So why isn't Talib Kweli - whether considering the underground roots-rap of Quality or the hook-laden The Beautiful Struggle - bigger than 50 Cent? "When I started in the business, there no was separation between underground and commercial," Kweli said, commenting on the two sides of his own coin.
October 23, 2008 |
It was an odd pairing, to say the least. When Talib Kweli and David Banner hit the Trocadero on Tuesday night in Sony's HipHopLive show, the first thing that sprang to mind was, "Huh?" Booking performers with opposing brands of artistry or ideals isn't a radical notion. But pairing rap's supremely conscious and earnest Kweli with Banner, its most party-hearty stylist, seemed akin to inviting Jennifer Aniston to an Angelina Jolie baby shower. So wrong. Jay-Z rhymed on his Black Album's "Moment of Clarity": "If skills sold, truth be told / I'd probably be, lyrically, Talib Kweli.
July 17, 2007 |
When it comes to Mos Def, you find yourself almost blinded by his promise. He's a guy who does so many things well. As a rapper, Def put himself on the sociopolitical conscious tip as Black Star (with Talib Kweli). Then came the incendiary blast of 1999's solo Black on Both Sides. By giving his characters consequence, world-political outlook, danger and sexuality, he made each tale on the record richly theatrical. But Mos waited an eternity to follow up with 2004's The New Danger.
December 10, 1999 |
It's been another bodacious year for hip-hop, from the successes of bleach-blond rhymers Eminem and Eve to New Orleans' Cash Money crew rappers Juvenile, B.G. and Lil' Wayne to the kiddie ditties of Will Smith. But apart from hip-hop's continued mainstream dominance, there's been another story bubbling up from the underground. Neatly bookended by last winter's breakthrough of Philadelphia's The Roots on Things Fall Apart and the new Black on Both Sides (Rawkus) by Brooklyn renaissance rapper Mos Def, it's a tale of young soul-hip-hoppers inspired by Malcolm X, Billie Holiday and Gil-Scott Heron as much as Run-D.
February 28, 2003 |
The reactionary, '94 Congress-like rise of 50 Cent notwithstanding, major label hip-hop has become a very strange place. The production of Timbaland and the Neptunes, which owes as much to glitchy electronica and glistening, theoretical minimalism as breaks and hooks, casts a long shadow over the singles market. Perhaps because of this, futuristic boho opuses such as the Roots' Phrenology and Cee-Lo's Cee-Lo Green and his Perfect Imperfections reinvent hip-hop from the inside out while facing relatively little resistance.
November 12, 2010 |
POP...plus POP . . . plus The first enticement here is seeing the enigmatic soundscapist Daniel Lanois out and about, leading Black Dub , his new group venture, on guitar - not just holing up in the studio as producer/playmate for the likes of U2, Bob Dylan and Neil Young. No surprise, Lanois' new project embraces an atmospheric, open-ended approach, a hybrid of soul, New Orleans voodoo blues and its first cousin, Jamaican dub, with the added promise of no-two-performances-alike spontaneity.
September 19, 2009 |
The rapper-turned-actor Mos Def has done his most engaging work in front of a camera and not a microphone in recent years. From his canny impersonation of Chuck Berry in the Chess Records biopic Cadillac Records to a guest shot on last season's House and a string of bit parts on Chappelle's Show, he has proved himself a versatile and inspired performer, but his rhyming skills ossified as his acting career blossomed. That changed this spring with the release of his fourth solo album, The Ecstatic.
December 28, 2005 |
January's GQ magazine has an interview with King Kong star Jack Black in which he talks about a little binge he enjoyed while making Peter Jackson's epic homage to the 1933 film. "Overall, I'm very responsible on set. I'm not one of those dudes who come drunk to the set," the 36-year-old Black said. "But there was a lost weekend where I had a little time off and I did some ecstasy and I went on a kind of crazy rampage and I started smoking [again]," he says. "Me and another member of the cast, who will remain nameless, just running around, dancing around, drinking and ecstasizing, smoking like a chimney.