TALIB KWELI

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  • L100 Cypher
Bam!Bam!Bam! @ 24 Kitchen Street 5/12/16

It’s safe to say that 24 Kitchen Street is Liverpool’s home for hip hop. The start of 2016 saw the likes of Loyle Carner and Saul Williams grace its stage and, throughout the year, we’ve seen The Mouse Outfit and Pharoahe Monch pull crowds into its bowels. It’s the place to be for B-boys and girls. Now, as we stride into the final month of what has been in many ways a brutal year, the venue continues its winning streak by playing host to a true legend of the genre.

But before we get to that, the heady vibrations created by basslines and beats serve to warm the cold air on this December night whilst the venue is filling up fast. Pretty soon it becomes a case of deciding where to stand and sticking to it; it’s plain to see how much people want this.

There’s a legitimate crew in to start the proceedings tonight. They go by the name L100 CYPHER. If there’s one thing that’s plain to see from the outset with this bunch it’s that they clearly adore what they do. There is, however, a part of their act that comes across as being inauthentic. While some of their performers spit honest raps that are lyrically sophisticated and deeply human, there are some who come across as though they’re trying to fit an image of a typical commercial, or ‘gangster’, rapper. They are a talented crew who certainly make their mark on those gathered here tonight, although, with any group of performers, some stand out far more than others.

After Cypher have left the stage the crowd are given about forty minutes of audible treats straight from the mad talents of No Fakin’ DJs. Everything gets a spin, from A Tribe Called Quest to The Roots and Common. It’s a lovely mix and the vibes reach every corner of the room.

And finally, here we are. The DJs have switched their equipment and the touring DJ has given a show of scratching skills and shout outs to hype the crowd. Not that any hype is needed; the crowd explodes into a roar as soon as TALIB KWELI steps up on stage. He starts the show with a heavy display of true MC craft; there is no false pretence here as this DJ/MC gives Liverpool a taste of pure, distilled hip hop from the source; Brooklyn. In between some of the songs in the set Kweli doesn’t hold back on offering his opinions on the state of hip hop as a culture, misogyny in hip hop and a whole host of other discussion points. This set is drenched in meaning and discourse. He also pays touching tribute to hip hop legends who have passed on: Sean Price, J Dilla and, of course, Tribe’s Phife Dawg all receive deserving tributes.

This set fuses the best of what’s old and new. There are tracks from Kweli’s legendary Reflection Eternal album as well as some of his most recent, including Fuck The Money, the title track from the rapper’s 2015 album. It’s a deserving set for an adoring crowd.

Talib Kweli came from the home of hip hop and brought the best with him. 24 Kitchen Street couldn’t have done any better.

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