Review by Michael Grant (RePPiN4U CEO)
This morning, I woke up
Feeling brand new, I jumped up
Feeling my highs and my lows
In my soul and my goals
Just to stop smoking and stop drinking
I’ve been thinking, I’ve got my reasons
Just to get by, just to get by
Just to get by, just to get by…
On November 14, 2015, this was how I felt, minus the drinking and smoking part – I stopped drinking two and half years ago. I’ve never put a cigarette to my mouth. (Yes I see the gasps out there.) But I could still relate in different ways. I was about to see one of the most respected artists in the game of all time. But let’s go back a month or two before this when it was announced…
I lost my mind when I found out… then some of my FB friends were like, Joey Bad@$$ is performing the same place, same night… the record skipped in my head. Here’s me, never been to the Institute Birmingham, like, so hang on, I got a ticket for Kweli, I did some research, turns out, it was two seperate shows… I thought it was a promoters error… or was it? Read on…
Usually I’m in the venue from the start, but this situation was different, so apologies go out to DJ Tricksta which I am sure pulled off another amazing set before Kweli took the stage, and to Trademark Blud for warming up the show. When I was en route I got a phone call, that the curfew was 10pm. I was like, WHAT? 10pm??? I was used to at least 11pm closes. The first time I saw Busta at Oceana Birmingham back in 2008, Busta didn’t step on stage until 2.45am and rocked the crowd until about 4.15am. Or the Nas & Damian Marley show at the O2 Academy in Birmingham where they finished at midnight and that still stands as one of the greatest shows I had ever witnessed. So I thought ‘nah this is a bluff’.
So I got there at about 8.45pm, Just in time to see Kweli step on stage. At this point I still didn’t clock on, I thought – this man got a catalogue of hits – this show isn’t ending at 10pm… Kicks off the show with LISTEN!!! And believe me, the crowd were listening! Great highlights were Kweli performing some of his Prisoner Of Conscious cuts, particularly ‘Rocket Ships.’ He knew that the track would get the crowd partcipating by throwing their Ws up in honor of the Wu-Tang Production.
Not a bad word has ever been said about Kweli why? Because he speaks the truth, he spoke to the crowd about one of the issues that have been constant in social media and that’s the true definition of the term ‘Black Lives Matter’. It really meant ‘Black Lives Matter AS WELL’. A lot of people got the term twisted and it was great to see the leader of the Blacksmith movement clarify a few things…
Talib did his homework and knew the UK crowd are more in touch with their reggae connections so he too went to that realm. The crowd ate it up. From the reggae/hip hop fusion of Foxy Brown to the true reggae roots of the Marley family, the likes of wish Peter Tosh would be proud of and he doesn’t haave to be sick and tired of hearing ‘darling I love you’, saying that Kweli reached out to his women in attendance with tunes like ‘Come Here’ and ‘Hot Thing’. In the latter, halfway through his DJ flips the beat and to be honest, while many recognize it from Lil’ Kim’s ‘Crush On You’, it didn’t really match with the flow and had heads slightly confused, but that’s just a minor.
Talib more than made up for that slight mishap and went into a string of J Dilla produced tracks that had the crowd wilding. J Dilla ALWAYS WORKS… but considering the catalog of hits he has, I would have rather heard those, big tunes like ‘Move Something’, ‘Hostile Gospel’ and ‘Down For The Count’ were sorely missing from the set. Considering that his new album with 9th Wonder had just been released at time of this review, I thought he would have at least performed ‘Every Ghetto’.
Another hot moment was Kweli’s acknowledgement of Joey Bad@$$ in the same building but on the higher floor and his disdain of the promoters. They booked both artists in the same building but two seperate shows like it was an ‘age’ issue, like the older heads would check for Kweli while the younger generation would more likely check for Bad@$$. That wasn’t the case, although it seemed that Bad@$$ may have took a larger crowd as the Kweli show was comfortably packed, by that I mean the room wasn’t overcrowded like sardines, it had a nice vibe in there.
If you have seen the DVD of Kweli Live at the Shrine, you would know that Kweli openly states that he ends the show with ‘Get By’, but before he performed that and ‘The Blast’, he took a moment out to remember the victims of the terror attacks in France, but also made it important to remember the innocent people caught up in terror attacks around the rest of the world too and not what the media percieves it to be. At time of this review this became a heated discussion among social media users.
So after Get By, the show came to it’s ‘puzzling’ close. People including myself looked either at our wrists or our phones for the time – it said 9:37pm. So here was me, among many others, thinking ‘nah, it can’t be over, he got such more to give.’ we thought he was gonna come back with a surprise or something… the crowd’s chants for Kweli were getting louder and louder… but the DJ came out and told the crowd the show was really over. Naturally this was followed by mutual booing, with a sense of understanding. What made things more bizarre, the Joey Bad@$$ fans were also exiting the building. So that show finished at the same time.
Whether it was bad promoting or the venue’s policies, one thing is for sure: Hip Hop heads may put the brakes on to future acts that may appear at the Birmingham Institute. A 45-minute set is clearly not enough for a man of Kweli’s calibre, that’s the average running time of artists albums., and the 10pm closing time is unforgivable, but what Kweli did inside that 45-mins, he played the hand he dealt and ran with it, and just like the sample in the track – ‘LISTEN!!!’ He gave us a show that had us in the end saying…’Wait wait wait WAIT JUST A MINUTE!’