Thanks, reefer, for the (Common) Sense.
Despite a severe winter storm warning, co-workers Karen and Vince and I headed to Northampton, MA to catch Common and Talib Kweli tonight. The snow was light and fluffy on the way out of Hartford, and when we got to Northampton, there wasn't a flake on the ground.
The venue, Pearl Street, was big and open, with good acoustics, and there was a DJ spinning great hiphop... stuff that reminded me of Luba Lounge on Wednesday nights. The crowd was college-aged and was well into the show.
Talib Kweli kicked off with the good stuff from his new disc, Quality, and some awesome tunes from one of his older effort, Reflection Eternal. Kweli had a good rapport with the crowd, working a couple of anti-war statements into his freestyles, which got big cheers from the crowd. Awesome stuff, but the majority of the crowd was there to see Common.
Common kicked it real nice. He had real stage presence, and was always smiling, laughing, and talking to people in the crowd. There were two notable moments: first, when DJ Dummy mixed Pete Rock and CL Smooth's They Reminisce Over You into Common's performance of I Used to Love H.E.R., and second when Common freestyled over the instrumentals of Dre and Snoop's The Next Episode. Common's performance was infused with a frantic, positive energy that the crowd really dug.
Both artists talked really positive messages, and I guess they can both be characterized as "progressive" hiphop, Common probably moreso than Kweli. Nothing better exemplifies this progressiveness than the moment tonight when Talib Kweli had everyone in the club making an "L" with their fingers and pumping their arms in the air, while singing the refrain of Love Language: "Love-love-love-love". Out of context, it's slightly corny... regardless, can you imagine that scene at a 50 Cent concert?
We left the club at about 11:30pm to find about 4 inches of snow had fallen. We braved an unplowed I-91 at about 30 MPH, and made it back to Hartford with our heads ringin at about 12:45am.
I hear the NCAA Championship game was somethin else, but reefer definitely had it right when he said "go to the show for some of the brightest heads in hip hop right now, don't be silly"... dude had it right.