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‘Lyrically Talib Kweli’: Brooklyn rapper bounces to Town Ballroom Thursday

blog by Ben Tsujimoto  • 

As part of his seven-city tour to promote the unreleased “Prisoner of Conscious” album, Talib Kweli was lured to Buffalo by FunTime Presents to headline a bill with Seattle’s J. Pinder and Buffalo’s Chae Hawk.

Tickets are $24 in advance online or $27 at the door tomorrow. Doors open at 7 p.m., and the age guidelines are 16+.

Kweli’s most-touted single from “Prisoner of Conscious” is “Distractions”, a socially-aware tune that name-drops the Arab Spring, Darfur, Occupy Wall Street and Native American rights issues as examples of events—in some cases, atrocities—that America has largely turned a blind eye to as a result of life’s petty distractions.

(Lyrics are NSFW):


“I was watching a lot of TV while the Arab Spring revolution was happening,” Kweli said in an interview with Artvoice’s Cory Perla. “I wrote that song sort of under the influence of the Arab Spring. The Arab Spring line in ”Distractions” was probably the first line that I wrote. A lot of my songs come from me thinking of a lyric and then building the song around that lyric. “Distractions” was built around a lyric about that revolution. It wasn’t my intention to write something so socially conscious when I wrote that song but I liked the beat and I wanted to write something that was just hard hitting.”

Lyrics from “Distraction”—“Talk to rappers like children cause that’s how they acting/They holding their hands like minors in traffic/The captains of industry and the lovers of status quo/Have a deep-seeded fear of change” represent a continued indictment against modern hip-hop from Kweli’s 2011 album “Gutter Rainbows.” Since his early days with Mos Def as part of Black Star in the mid-‘90s, Kweli’s lengthy career has positioned him as an authority on the direction of the hip-hop industry.

Pitchfork noted in early 2011 in its review of “Gutter Rainbows” that “Prisoner of Conscious” would mark a significant departure from Kweli’s earlier work, and without the album officially in tow, it’ll be interesting to see how Kweli devotees at Town Ballroom react to the music. 

As Kweli continues to find ways to keep himself relevant in hip-hop, he’ll headline the same bill as a local artist anticipating one of the most meaningful shows in his career. Chae Hawk, who sports a Black Star tattoo as a reminder of his mid-to-late ‘90s boombox roots, will open for Kweli at 8 p.m. 

“It’s not the biggest show I’ve ever played,” Hawk said in a phone interview Wednesday, “but it’s definitely the most symbolic. [Black Star] was popular in an era of music that I connected with at 18 or 19 years old. I actually met [Black Star member] Mos Def at a deli in New York City’s East Side, too.”

Yesterday, Hawk released another single from his coming album “Dance Party for the Heavy Hearted” (coming Aug. 2012) entitled “Adult Entertainment,” which Hawk describes as a “buzz track” that will feature early in the album to highlight his collaboration with rapper/producer Grabbitz.

(Lyrics NSFW, again):

Ignore life’s many distractions and listen to the messages of Kweli, Pinder and Hawk on Thursday night.

TAGGED: chae hawk, funtime presents, grabbitz, hip-hop, j. pinder, mos def, talib kweli, town ballroom

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