Photos and review by Matt Jonhson
Show photos HERE
Some hip-hop shows overwhelm the audience with lasers, pyrotechnics, and trance-inducing strobes. Artists rely on big business backing them with flashy tricks to distract from their empty, uncomplicated lyrics. They are more gifted in the art of misdirection then songwriting, and manage to sell out 15,000 seat arenas. At the Met in Pawtucket, RI, a small club with a capacity of a few hundred, only a real artist would dare set foot on stage. There is roughly as much light as a downtown alleyway and the fans can literally reach out to give the artists well-deserved daps. Talib Kweli and Immortal Technique set out on their People’s Champions Tour with no gimmicks up their sleeve and funded it with their own hard work and dedication to the craft. This is underground hip-hop.
Throughout the night Technique showed that he cared about the well-being of every human being out their more than his success and vanity. “Have you ever been in club listening to a hot ass beat… hey we’ve all been hypocrites… and then you realize that the beat is really dope but the person rapping is absolutely not, saying a mother (expletive) thing? Right now we are going to remove the safety net and go completely A cappella so you can hear every single word.” With that very well received introduction, Technique brought on stage one of his supporting acts, Constant Flow. In the middle of his set, with the entire crowd hanging on his every word, Technique gave the stage up for his friend to shine. The room was chillingly silent as CF stormed through his verses, unadulterated.
Collaboration and sharing the limelight was a common theme throughout the show. It was plain to see everyone that took the stage (NIKO IS, CF, Hasan Salaam, Poison Pen, and DJ static) was family, the love was contagious.
Every act voiced serious opinions on social and political issues. A refreshing break from artists who are more concerned about being successful than speaking out about what they believe is right. Technique invited those that could not respectfully listen to others opinions and think critically, while still having a good time, to leave.
Talib Kweli’s confidence and experience was immediately felt as he took control of the mic. Many in the crowd seemed to be unable to control themselves, arms flailing and screaming like The Beatles just took the stage. Fittingly, he dropped “Lonely People” with a long sample of “Eleanor Rigby” that he urged the audience to sing along with. The audience was a bit shy and more than a bit tone deaf. After that slight hitch he plowed on unaffected but, left the audience considering voice lessons. His flow was flawless, almost effortless; it is no wonder so many of hip-hop’s greats have collaborated in the past.
DJ Static was integral to the smooth experience, laying it down consistently as performers played musical chairs on stage. The constant switching of the mic and calls for audience participation produced a strong feeling of community. The crowd was affectionately referred to as “hip-hop.” itself. Real issues were discussed, uncomfortable issues, unapologetically. Some use music to escape reality; others use music to make people face it.
Talib Kweli and Immortal Technique at Lupo's – RI
Photos and review by Matt Jonhson