Real-Issue N.Y. Rapper Hits City
- By Miriam Elder
- Mar. 25 2010 00:00
Brooklyn-based rapper Talib Kweli, who has built a reputation for himself in the past decade as one of hip-hop’s most outspoken figures, will bring his live show to Moscow on Sunday at Discoteque.
One month ahead of the upcoming “Hip-Hop Summit” to be held at the Luzhniki sports complex, Kweli represents an aesthetic that will be largely absent at that event. Many of his songs address the history of equal rights in the United States and the struggles that blacks there still face, from police brutality to economic hardship — both things that many Russians today can relate to. Yet his songs are overwhelmingly uplifting, calling people to political and social action — topics that have emerged recently in Russian news following anti-Putin protests that took place across the country last weekend.
Backed by beats produced by Hi-Tek, who will also take the stage at Discoteque on Sunday, Kweli delivers his poetry over loops and samples that urge listeners to dance. Calling grooves “infectious” is cliche nowadays, but that’s just what Kweli’s are.
Kweli first hit the scene as part of Black Star, his collaboration with fellow Brooklyn rapper Mos Def. Emerging from the New York underground just as mainstream hip-hop was overwhelmed by gangsta rap, the duo quickly proved itself to be the avant-garde of lyrical rap.
Both went on to pursue solo careers, and Kweli has released six records so far and has appeared on numerous collaborations. His seventh, “Revolutions Per Minute,” will be released in May on Blacksmith, the label he founded five years ago.
Hopefully, there will be some fledgling Russian rappers in attendance who are willing to look beyond the “bling-bling” rap that will take over next month’s “summit” in favor of honest tales of real social concerns.
Talib Kweli and Hi-Tek play Discoteque on Sunday, March 28, at 8 p.m. 5 Nizhny Susalny Pereulok. Metro Kurskaya. (495) 410-5452.