There are few hip hop albums that come to mind that can unite such a diverse audience as Black Star. It’s been a decade since Mos Def and Talib Kweli made their mark on the hip-hop community with their self-titled debut in 1999. (Shout out for my crew! east west, north south. Everyone on the continent of Europe all abroad internationals)And it has stood the test of time. The songs still sounded fresh and relevant. Hard to believe that this album came out when PETS.com was still rockin at $40 a share. (Buying petfood online?! Brilliant!!) Needless to say, the Blackstar show rocked. Hard.
Let’s start at the beginning.
It was a tough weekend for me. I found out that both my roommates were moving out July 1st. Then some asshole stole my bike. (The irony lies in the fact that I haven’t bought anything to maintain the thing except WD40 for the last ten years. What, you might ask, was I doing when my beautiful black Cannondale was stolen? Buying a $30 seat and a nice carry rack for the sum’bitch.)
So it was a bad day. But I was determined to bring myself back emotionally on Saturday. Luckily, my friend Caithlin bought tickets for this show at Nokia Theater in Times Square many many moons ago.
We met up in Park Slope at her sister’s launchpad and went to get a 6 rack of Red Stripe and drank them discreetly in the park. We waxed poetic about our past lives as collegiate co-eds. After three beers each we got on the F-train and set out for the show. Forty Minutes and a much needed pee-break later we stood stymied at Times Square.
“I dont mean to be a bother, but…” I said to a cute girl-cop on the beat.
“Then don’t bother me–!” She said, cutting me off. “Just kidding. Whatcha need hun?”
“Um…Nokia Theater?” I replied.
“Two blocks that way.”
Looking slightly drunk but not enough to bring too much attention, we got patted down and walked into Nokia. The venue was distinctly NYC. Sleek buffed silver bars glowed (Glew?) neon blue and green from beneath and the top shelf glowed pure white. Standing in line for a much needed beer, we met Nomad.
“Black-star? pshh. It’s gonna suck…just out for a night with the boys. Shot of petron? I’ll buy if you guys get the beers.”
“Sure,” Caithlin responded without a pause between the two.
Now, let’s make this clear–I can’t hold my liquor. Ever. Beer for me. But since I was down, I took the shot and felt the cool warmth of alcohol spread through my limbs.
It was getting late, so we found our way around the building to the GA section and wriggled through to the front right side of the stage. We caught the tail end of “88-Keys,” which was less than awesome. Most people did not come for 88 keys, and let him know it.
The crowd roared when Blackstar took the stage. Starting with “Astronomy (8th Light)”, it set the crowd off. I finally felt good again. Every bass-beat brought me one step closer to truth. I started to move. I started to not care. I found the middle path once again.
I’m a white guy, but there were so many bad dancing white guys that I just didn’t care as my head rocked to the rhythm. The highlight was “Definition”, which just brought everything together. Even though he’s in his mid-30s, Mos Def still looks like he’s just out of college, and he was on point. Kweli held up his part of the bargain as well. I kept asking myself uselessly how they could possibly rhyme so fast. It’s amazing to see 3 people entertaining 2000 people. Their dj was absolutely rediculous. It was as if we had taken a time-machine to 1999. They still flowed like two rivers that empty into the sea.
Though I certainly can’t rap myself, these guys rocked it to the tip-top. Best alliance in hip hop. Mos Def’s new album drops June 9th, 2009. You can check out his website at mosdef.com. Kweli’s album EARDRUM is out now.