Since there was almost zero hip-hop presence at this weekend’s ACL Fest, local promoters Knuckle Rumbler decided to fill the festival’s blackout with one of hip-hop’s most loved and respected emcees, New York City’s Talib Kweli. The event featured a cast of local artists, break-dancers and DJs. Arguably the east side’s most happening venue, The Scoot Inn was packed with Kweli fans from all walks of life: backpackers, hipsters, regular folk and the who’s who of Austin’s own hip-hop scene.
With just a DJ and microphone, Kweli took the stage and wasted no time showing the crowd why he is one of the best lyricists and performers in the game. With an acceptable, confident swagger that manages to not rub the lines of being obnoxious, Kweli breezed through his catalogue of solo hits while giving everyone some incredible a cappella freestyles. Despite his catalog of solo hits, it was Kweli’s and Mos Def’s Black Star verses and tidbits that the crowd was most excited about. Who can blame them? Black Star was the best duo of their time. Thursday night’s audience knew the words to the classic record from beginning to end. After signing off for the first time, Kweli and his DJ came out for a crowd-pleasing encore that included his biggest commercial hits, “Get By” and “I Try,” which features R&B superstar Mary J Blige.
It’s no surprise that Kweli’s show was well attended, despite the festival madness. Kweli has performed in Austin on multiple occasions, most recently having performed with Nas at Emo’s last year. Austin is a city with discerning hip-hop fans. “Edutainment” artists and lyrical throwbacks of Kweli’s status and talent are always welcome here in The Live Music Capital. Thursday night was no exception.
Talib Kweli performed at Scoot Inn in Austin on Oct 7.