Show Review: Mos Def, Jay Electronica and Supernatural for Haiti relief at The Independent, 2/3/10

by David Price on February 4, 2010

Always cool and in control

The character that is Mos Def never stops to entertain, on stage, in film or in person. His music is layered with decades of influence and years of knowledge wrapped up in a style that undoubtedly his very own. This night is no different than the Mos Def that we’d expect. Arriving ever so fashionable, and fashionably late, with an entourage to boot. He takes the stage with his bright red mic, circa 1960, and a perfectly knotted bow tie. Clean and smooth with a swagger that makes it clear that the show is completely under his control.

After the first song, Mos Def asks for some reverb from the sound guy which is followed by a seemingly elaborate re-threading of wires to achieve which is noted by Mos Def as be pokes fun at the guy struggling to complete the request. It sets the tone for the evening almost perfectly, a selection of a few songs followed by an entertaining round of banter with the crowd. The back-and-forths with Mos and the crowd are perfect, as someone yells the name of a song to be played, he responds “yeah, that’s not gunna happen, but thanks for trying” followed by questioning if that ever works. The shot down request lays down the idea that Mos Def is most definitely the MC for tonight.

As he begins to flow one song a capella, the crowd begins to clap the beat out. Mos stops it by saying “I can keep the beat, trust me, ya don’t need to do that,” almost insulted that we’d think he needs that. After a healthy batch of tracks solo, Mos brings on Jay Electronica (who I’d only heard of from reading P-Diddy’s twitter). He’s decked out in New Orleans gear, so it’s obvious he’ll be rooting for the Saints come Sunday. That or he’s just a really big Reggie Bush fan. Jay is incredible, his rhymes are heavily Hurricane Katrina influenced, and he makes no apologies. Jay’s style has the delivery and flow of more polished mainstream content, the lyrical bit and whit of Wu-Tang, and the poetry of Mos Def.

Jay maintains center stage, while Mos Def is backing his lyrics operatically. Jay likes to drop his beat and spit it a capella to drive his content; an effective tool. The two continue with the crowd banter, which only seems to become more entertaining as they single out the drunkest guy in the room and give him a mic.

Freestyle rapper Supernatural opened tonight’s show, and here are some words to describe him: amazing, unbelievable, inconceivable, fascinating and jaw-dropping. Supernatural played a game with the crowd. He asked them to hold up an item, any item, and he then began to freestyle. He’d grab the item from the audience member and work it into his freestyle, flawlessly! Everything from gum, a Giants hat, money, a pen, a beer, a half-empty cup, and even a rosary. He went up and down the front row grabbing things from people’s hands and then working them into his flow. Frankly, that beats the shit out of a Vegas magic show any day!

The term “Real Hip-Hop” was thrown around tonight a lot, which is kind of an ambiguous way of saying traditional Hip-Hop, but that’s what tonight was about: no glitz and glam, just dope MCs doing what they’d be doing anyways, paid or not. Standing there and listening to these dudes say what they got to say in the way they got to say it is nothing less than poetry, thats “Real Hip-Hop”, like they just said shit and now your freakin’ out! “Real Hip-Hop” makes you think about things you’d never typically think of, or to organize thoughts and connect dots lyrically that most of the human population will never be able to do.

Tonight was a benefit for the relief efforts in Haiti. The idea of that might have gotten lost with the crowd as they were caught up in web of seeing such great performers, but it’s important to understand that the relief efforts will be ongoing, and not to allow yourself to forget about the work that will need to be done long term! People’s lives don’t get back on track due to one plane full of supplies flown down by one celebrity. Haiti is going to take years to rebuild, and hopefully better than it was before. As one of the poorest nations on the globe, it’s up to us to help, and not take advantage. Call upon yourself to take your own action and assure that Haiti isn’t forgotten about.

Haiti Relief FUnd: Helping the Earthquake Victims in Haiti

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

KC February 4, 2010 at 2:10 pm

So, let me get this straight – he’s late, he denigrates the sound guy (or the sound guys assistant) and insults the audience and that’s considered…cool?

Am I missing something here?


Caroline February 4, 2010 at 4:54 pm

He didn’t insult anyone. He was being playful. And he put on an awesome performance at the last minute for a excellent cause. Let’s not forget the big picture here.


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