NEW YORK Talib Kweli, half of the hip-hop duo Black Star, and DJ Hi Tek brought old-school flavor and new solo material to Manhattan's S.O.B.'s on Wednesday for a showcase of his album Reflection Eternal, due Sept 19.
"We're bringing the real ghetto sh--," DJ Hi Tek said. "It's funky and smooth with a lot of knowledge in it. We're taking it to the next level."
DJ Cipher Sounds, from New York R&B/hip-hop radio station Hot 97, warmed up the eager crowd. Wearing a Brooklyn T-shirt, he asked the audience, "Are my real hip-hop ni--as out there, or what?"
For almost two hours, the DJ spun records from acts including Public Enemy, Mobb Deep, Special Ed and KRS-One, Gang Starr and N.W.A. The crowd bobbed their heads and sang along.
"I came out to the show because I love hip-hop, and Talib Kweli is a talented brother with a lot to say," said Ebon Herndon, 26, of Brooklyn. "Whether or not I buy his solo album, however, depends a lot upon what I see tonight."
Going It Alone
Sporting a Funky Knuckles T-shirt and backward baseball cap, Talib Kweli took the stage with DJ Hi Tek a little after 11 p.m. The crowd was packed in the small club and roared when the two finally appeared.
"I don't go out to that many hip-hop shows," said Justin Carty, 26, of Brooklyn. "But I've liked Kweli since I heard him on Rawkus Records' Soundbombing II album, so I wanted to check him out. This delay is getting really old, though."
Talib Kweli ran onto the stage pumping his fist in the air and asking the crowd to "get the wave goin' with your hands!" One of the first few songs of the set was "Move Somethin'," the soon-to-be-released first single from Reflection Eternal.
After giving props to Rawkus Records, Common, Pharoahe Monch, the borough of Brooklyn and "my brutha Mos Def," Talib Kweli told the audience to "stay tuned for the new Black Star album in 2001."
Kweli then launched into the classic "Re: Definition" (RealAudio excerpt), from 1999's Mos Def & Talib Kweli are Black Star. The crowd jumped in the air and sang along as Kweli playfully changed the chorus from "1, 2, 3 Mos Def and Talib Kweli" to "1, 2, 3 Hi Tek and Talib Kweli."
"I guarantee to everybody that Reflection Eternal and Black Star are going to continue to represent," Kweli said, putting a revolutionary fist in the air. He followed up with a dis to Atlanta Braves pitcher John Rocker, who made racist remarks about ethnic New Yorkers in May.
Kweli covered "Know That" from Mos Def's 1999 solo album Black on Both Sides, on which Kweli was a guest.
The one-hour show ended with Kweli inviting some of his "hip-hop family" onstage, including Mister Man, Pharoahe Monch and Punchline, who all took a turn on the mic.
"The end was the ill part of the show, when all the MCs were out onstage," said Tre Cruz, 24, who took the train from New Haven, Conn., to see the show. "That's the real hip-hop sh-- right there."
"I've seen Black Star before, and the duo of Kweli and Mos Def is amazing," Jay Gi, 23, of New Haven, Conn., said. "Tonight Kweli had to hold his own, and I could tell it was kinda tough for him, but the crowd was in it he pulled it off."