(NORTH ADAMS, Mass.) – Hip-hop star Talib Kweli brings his singular brand of socio-political rap to the Hunter Center at MASS MoCA on Saturday, October 19, 2013, at 8pm. In 1998, Brooklyn-based rapper Kweli blasted into the public consciousness as one half of rap duo Black Star. The group released only one album – “Mos Def and Talib Kweli Are Black Star” – before parting ways. Yet the deft, socially aware, and politically on-point lyrics laid down on that album catapulted Kweli and Def to the forefront of the late 1990s renaissance of conscious, Afro-centric hip-hop.
Kweli and his music shot onto the mainstream charts with the 2002 release of his first solo album, “Quality,” and the single “Get By” – produced by Kanye West. Since then Kweli has released numerous critically acclaimed solo and collaborative projects, each pushing Kweli’s sonic and creative boundaries, culminating in his latest release, the pointedly titled “Prisoner of Conscious,” a subtle slap at those who would overlook Kweli’s musical gifts in favor of condescending to him as a polite, “intelligent” rapper – the son of academics and the brother of a Supreme Court clerk. (The title also alludes to Nigerian reggae artist Majek Fashek’s album “Prisoner of Conscience.”)
“My music has been associated with… positivity, spirituality, intelligence and being thought-provoking,” says Kweli of past projects. “I think sometimes people get caught up in that part of me as an artist and don’t necessarily understand the musicality or fully appreciate the music and the entertainment value behind what I do. I tried to stretch my wings a little bit and bring something that was less beholden to the world of hip-hop and more existing in the world in general,”
Opening for Kweli will be hip-hop trio Rebel Diaz. The bilingual crew, fronted by MCs Rodstarz, MC/producer G1, and backed by producer/DJ Illanoiz Rebel, debuted in 2006 in front of a half million people at a New York City immigrants’ rights march. With influences ranging from Dirty South bounce to South American folk, Rebel Diaz combines classic boom bap tradition with hip-hop’s global impact. Rebel Diaz has shared the stage with the likes of Common, Mos Def, and Public Enemy, as well as Rage Against the Machine and Calle 13. Through it all, they have stayed connected to their local community by co-founding the RDACBX, an autonomous hip-hop community center in the South Bronx, N.Y.
Talib Kweli performs in MASS MoCA’s Hunter Center on Saturday, October 19, at 8 pm. A full bar, plus dinner and snacks from Lickety Split, are available before and during the show. Tickets are $22 in advance, $25 day of, and $18 for student tickets. Members receive a 10% discount. Tickets are available through the MASS MoCA Box Office, located on Marshall Street in North Adams, from 11 am until 5 pm (closed Tuesdays). Tickets can also be charged by phone by calling 413.662.2111 x1 during Box Office hours or purchased online at MASS MoCA..