Talib Kweli, wearing a Colin Kaepernick jersey and bounding around the stage of a packed, cavernous Brooklyn Bowl, is a hell of a passionate guy and smart.
“Our parents sing like John Lennon, ‘imagine all the people watch.’ We rock like Paul McCartney from now until the last beatle drop,” he rapped.
“This morning, I woke up. Feeling brand new and I jumped up. Feeling my highs, and my lows. In my soul, and my goals.”
The 41-year-old Brooklynite then launched into a calmly sarcastic delivery about what he thinks of the new president who demonized nearly every group of people and promised them retribution.
And yet Kweli, in this roller coaster of a concert, also talked about hunkering down, regrouping, and organizing in these early days of a new cycle to the right.
Concertgoers started chanting his lyrics with him so that he wouldn’t get buried under Brady Watt’s bass lines. Kweli began to compensate with showmanship, jumping across the stage repeatedly.
America has jumped the shark. And dark days are ahead. There was lots of uninhibited hard talk against the manifestly immoral, psychopathically thin-skinned president-elect.
Mixed funk and rock played by Kweli’s backup band, with rap from DJ Enuff’s turntables, in its own way made the crowd feel as if things were going to be all right. Their show was a reminder that there are still artists who reject the country’s Elmer Gantry-like nature along with a population so utterly fascinated with fame and celebrity and winning that it wrought the situation we’re now in.
“I activism attackin’ the system, the blacks and latins in prison, numbers of prison they victim black in the vision.”
The poet-balladeer gave the show a shot of adrenaline, accompanying all of it with Watt’s strong, steady bass and K’Valentine’s magnetic upper register.
“All they got is rappin’ to listen to. I let them know we missin’ you, the love is unconditional. Even when the condition is critical, when the livin’ is miserable. Your position is pivotal.”
The dancy fans were enjoying the time they have left on this earth (suddenly, it seems much shorter if you’re a Ploughshares Fund donor) and listened to the music, sang to the music, hugged each other, and hopefully got mad enough to take on the orange skid mark.
Kweli is our “hold fast & push back” in the spirit of Occupy, Black Lives Matter, and Feel the Bern. His post-election lyrics were a force for courage, justice, and solidarity.
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