Scenes From Last Night's Talib Kweli and Immortal Technique Show at Trees.
There's a long-running notion that hip-hop is for everyone. And, sure, maybe it is — even if the biggest consumers of the genre are more suburban than the vast majority of the people actually making the music. Most any hip-hop purist can still argue that the genre — at its core — remains pretty accepting of anyone who genuinely appreciates it.
And, surely, this was the driving force behind last night's Immortal Technique and Talib Kweli show at Trees. At this show, you could find a representative of almost every demographic out in the audience. These people all had at least one thing in common, too: a genuine love of hip-hop. To be sure, everyone who bought a ticket to this “People's Champ” tour showcase has done their fair share of head nodding in their lifetimes.
More than that, the show was a celebration of the last true vestiges of underground hip-hop in this age of commercialized acts. The old-school factor was strong from the night's start: DJ Static showcased his scratching skills as openers CF, Hasan Salaam and Nico Is flexed their lyrical prowess. The audience, meanwhile, was a perfect mixture of drunk and stoned — a fact that CF pointed out in an attempt to welcome willing participants in a shot-for-shot contest after his set.
While moments like that one made it clear that this night was about having fun, there was a serious element to its tone, too, as each emcee took the stage as an opportunity to voice their concerns on different social and political commentary. This was strongest when Immortal Technique took the stage. Known for his strong opinions and fuck-it-all nature, he spoke on issues such as Ferguson and wars abroad, but was still light-hearted and personable with the audience, feeding off the energy of the room. You could tell the venue was filled with die-hard fans of his; a good majority of people rapped along as he went through his discography. As for those who didn't know the material as well, the rapper born Felipe Andres Coronel welcomed this set to download his music illegally, if need be — an interesting position considering his current legal situation.
In turn, spirits were high by the time Talib Kweli took to the stage to cap off the night. The Brooklyn-born emcee energetically finessed the stage, even serenading the audience with a rendition of Rick James' “Mary Jane.” Fans of his older work were a little validated when he performed songs from Reflection Eternal — and even nostalgic when he pulled out his verse feature from Kanye West's “Get 'Em High.”
Overall, it was a night for the hip-hop heads regardless of creed to come together to party and enjoy the consciously good feelings that underground hip-hop is known to bring.
It was a night for everyone.
All photos by Kathy Tran.