Show Recap: Black Star tour comes through San Francisco
November 23, 2011
Mos Def (Yaasin Bey) and Talib Kweli are Black Star, and they took to the stage last week at San Francisco’s Mezzanine for two dates—the second one added after the first sold out in hours. The two prolific artists who personified 90’s independent hip-hop proved once again that they are still at the top of their game and the classic tracks from their debut album, released 13 years ago, are far from forgotten.
On Thursday night, for the second show, Black Star played one of the longest sets I’ve experienced at a hip-hop show in years. The duo instantly captivated the crowd, intermingling classic Black Star tracks, including “Definition”, “K.O.S. (Determination)” and personal-favorite “Respiration”, with some of the great new tracks from their upcoming release (including Madlib-produced “Fix Up”). The chemistry between Mos Def and Talib Kweli is truly something that should be seen live. Mos Def’s smooth flows combined with Talib Kweli’s machine gun delivery brought back fond memories of a time in hip-hop that many consider the pinnacle of the art form. This era in hip-hop is captured in Black Star’s first album and to hear it live, the tracks still carry the same weight as they did years ago. Their unique flow can deliver any message, but it’s their personal message that makes them two of the greatest intellectual hip-hop artists of all time.
As Black Star neared the end of their energizing two-and-a-half hour set a number of cast members from Fela!, the award-winning musical profiling the life of legendary Nigerian musician Fela Kuti, currently playing at the Curran Theater in San Francisco, helped bring the show to a climactic finish. Mos Def, Talib Kweli and a stage full of exuberant, vibrant Fela! dancers closed the night jamming to Fela tracks mesmerizing the crowd into a frenzy. Past 2:30am, when the show broke, Mezzanine was still packed to the brim.
Pep Love from the Bay’s own Souls of Mischief opened the evening with classic Hieroglyphics tracks from 3rd Eye Vision as well as tracks from his many solo albums. Los Rakas, also from the Bay by way of Panama, opened the Tuesday night show. Also on the bill was Jahi, who opened on both shows.
Black Star will be in New York December 3 and Los Angeles December 15.