“A true hip hop hero” – We saw Talib Kweli at The Haunt


On Tuesday 25th November, hip-hop sensation Talib Kweli came to town, performing at the very intimate venue – The Haunt. This gig was an experience like no other. From start to finish, it was like one big Brooklyn 90s warehouse rave; an event that should have not been missed.

Opening the show, were some familiar Brighton faces – Normanton Street. The great thing about Talib Kweli’s fans is that he attracts such a wide, eclectic audience, who really appreciated the distinct style of Normanton Street. The band have clearly been inspired by Kweli and 90s hip-hop, but have turned it around on its head to create Jazz-infused R&B. It was so great to see a local band support such a legend on the scene, hopefully gaining them the recognition they deserve. As always, the band were on top form, and performed old classics such as Take a Walk, New Dawn and No Drama from their new EP – Much Respect. The funked up beats, the boys’ poetic rapping and Phoebe’s sublime vocals created a chilled out yet vibrant environment.

The crowd had to stay put though. DJs Strictly Business entertained the crazed crowd with R&B classics, this was not a gig, but the ultimate dance party. They should be applauded for keeping the crowd buzzed, as Talib kept the crowd waiting for almost 2 hours! I did wonder whether he was going to cancel at the last minute, yet the place continued to become more and more jam packed. At quarter to 11, Spintelect, DJ for Talib’s set, hit the stage. Then the epic anthem, Oh Fortuna, banged out of the speakers, Talib Kweli had arrived.

An entrance like no other, Talib made his appearance known, a huge name in a small venue with an immense atmosphere. And just like that, the crowd went into a trance as Talib delivered the most sensational performance. It was unbelievable, someone who can spit that fast with meaningful context is a tremendous talent. No wonder Talib Kweli is so critically acclaimed on the underground hip-hop scene, ans cited as one of the most predominant MCs there is.

It was great to see Talib paying homage to the great soul artists; juxtaposing tracks such as Lenny Williams’ Cause I Love You with his hardcore delivery. As the audience swayed along to Williams’ classic, one of Talib’s most renowned tunes intercepted – Never Been In Love and the audience sure went mad! This much loved track and Williams’ anthem, are sure to go down in history as classics. Talib, then jumped straight back into some serious rap, performing a mix of tracks from his albums and collaborative work with Black Star.

Talib cited legend after legend. Despite being such a big name himself, he constantly interacted with the audience whilst maintaining the highest of energy. Talib then announced “This ones for all you singles”. Bang. Paul McCartney’s soothing vocals singing Eleanor Rigby, hit the crowd, with Talib MCing over the top. A true musical delight, combining psychedelic with hip-hop beats. After, Talib brought out Brazilian born act ‘Niko Is’ from his record label Javotti Media. This kid is like no other. He gave the impression that he could rap before he could speak. Niko jumped into the crowd, to continue the party craze atmosphere. Talib definitley kept the crowd on their toes, by embedding so many different music styles into his set. Just as we were back in Talib’s world, listening to him perform Beautiful Struggle, the forefather of Reggae, Bob Marley came blazing out the speakers. Jamming, we were indeed! Kweli’s music can only be described as the embodiment of pure eclectic funk. Anything with a rhythmic beat and Talib is on to it.

As the set was drawing to a close, Talib dedicated a Black Star single to Ferguson, a moving part of the evening. He then slipped right back in to the American funk scene with Rick James’ Mary Jane being played, as Talib playfully rapped along whilst teasing the audience over the song’s meaning. This was soon followed by chilled out tunes of Nina Simone, before breaking bad with his classic single Get By. The crowd went all out, getting low to the incredible tune, which ended the show. The rap genius was welcomed back on stage by an encore and performed songs from latest album Gravitas, then finishing with another loved tune – I tried .

It really was a show not to be missed; a true hip-hop journey. Talib has revitalised Soul and Funk and has embellished it with intuitive R&B and what can only be described as sensational rapping. Talib Kweli is a true hip hop hero.

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