RECAP: Mos Def and Talib Kweli are Blackstar Live at Nokia Theater May 30th 2009
The underground hip-hop movement of the late 90s/early aughts returned to New York City this weekend, in the form of two sold out live shows from Blackstar (aka Mos Def and Talib Kweli) at the Nokia Theater in Times Square. The event was produced by Peter Oasis’ Live N Direct company (myself included) and Blacksmith Music‘s Corey Smyth.
I spent most of the night bouncing between the middle of the theater and backstage, where there were a host of characters I either a) hadn’t seen in a while (Jean Grae, whatup!) or b) didn’t know altogether (insert random weed carrier’s person’s name here). Even the elusive Damon Dash made an appearance, although he appeared quite drunk sedated.
Sometimes, just being in the music business, going through the various ups and downs, working in it full time on a day to day basis as opposed to being a casual fan, the magic gets lost. No matter what you’re doing– rapping, producing, writing, PR, manager, label exec, journalist, etc– you start to question why you’re even in the game, what the attraction is, what keeps you here. I’m not the only one, I’m just one of the few who’ll admit it.
But there was this one point in the concert, when Kweli was performing “Get By,” where I glanced over at the side of the theater, by the steps leading up to the balcony, and I saw this kid sort of off by himself. I have to imagine he was maybe 25 years old, of Latin descent. And as Kweli’s performing, he’s literally matching him line for line, got the hand movements going, the lyricist bop and all. He’s doing that thing we suburban folks did in the mirror as kids (mine was to Redman’s “Tonight’s Da Night” more often than not), and then I just felt this chill come over me. And I smiled. And I realized again what it’s all for. Just to love music so much that you live in that moment right there.
Here are some pictures and video footage I got from the show. Not the greatest of quality (let me know if you want to donate a camera!), but I do what I can.
Blackstar from stage right
“The Blast” from the balcony
My buddy Elliott Wilson got the entire show from the latter portion of the evening on tape. Bless that man’s soul, because it was damn near 2am when these dudes got on stage, and even the biggest hip-hop fans succumb to weary eyes and legs post midnight.