On tour to support his latest album release, Gravitas, Talib Kweli captivated a sold-out show at Echoplex on Sunday night. Rocking the crowd with his vast catalog of commercial and underground hits, the rapper had fans singing and rapping along from beginning to end. Many concertgoers also did their best to find the space to dance along in the packed house. Known as an intellectual rapper since his days as a member of the late 90s hip hop group Black Star with fellow Brooklyn native Mos Def (aka Yasiin Bey), Kweli has always packed a 1-2 punch of smart lyrics and impeccable flow. Both of these traits were on display at Echoplex.
Backed on-stage by DJ Spinna, Kweli mixed up a plethora of solo works and collaborations from his already lengthy career. He dropped hits from Black Star like “Redefinition” and “K.O.S.” and as well as tracks from the Reflection Eternal albums with DJ Hi-Tek. When his RZA-produced collaboration with Busta Rhymes “Rocket Ships” ended, he challenged the most hardcore fans in the crowd by performing a few works from his late friend J. Dilla, and asking the audience to rap with him if they knew the words. Kweli, ever the entertainer, busted out a few freestyles throughout the night that pumped up the Los Angeles audience, as he ended each freestyle with lines that mentioned California. Additionally, he made sure to play some of his produced by “L.A. cats” such as Will.I.Am. When he mentioned being in California and smelling something funny, the beat for “Mary Jane” came on, exciting the whole venue. He then led the audience in a sing-along to the Rick James hit.
Throughout his career, Kweli has always been more on the side of an underground and conscious rapper, eschewing a commercial approach. Before ending the night with his monster hit and Kanye West produced single, “Get By,” he was sure to let the audience know that his latest album is available only through him. Forgoing the normal routes of distribution such as iTunes, he is selling his latest album directly himself. Judging by the select songs he played last night, it’s sure to be another hot album.