Tickets to the Lampost sold out on Monday night, so it was obvious there were hip-hop lovers in the audience. But headliner Talib Kweli wanted to qualify.
“I’m talking about unconditional love,” Kweli said. “True hip-hop can be violent, it can be misogynistic, it can be homophobic. But true hip-hop is uncensored self-expression.”
In his illustrious and longstanding career, Kweli has always made a point of expressing himself with uninhibited poeticism. He rose to fame rapping with Mos Def in the duo Black Star, then went on to perform solo and collaborate with a spectrum of hip-hop royalty including the Roots and Kanye West. In 2011, he formed the label Javotti Media, plugged as a “platform for independent thinkers and doers.”
Monday night’s set was just heating up when the last call from the bar doused the stage with an icy light. After a long string of openers including G-Free, Mister Burns, K Valentine, and the Perceptionists, Kweli had gotten off to a late start, taking the stage shortly after 12:30 am.
He performed hits such as “Definition” “Lonely People” and “Get By” before the powers that be reiterated yes, last call really meant last call, laws were laws, and the crowd had to go.
Kweli left the stage begrudgingly, thanking the audience, the bartenders, and the Lampost crew, while lamenting — in his own way — that the paying ticketholders could not enjoy a full set.
He said his piece, then dropped the mic.
Hip-hop can be cocky, in your face, impolite. But hip-hop has a point. And very often, hip-hop is right.