Talib Kweli Performs at University of the Pacific

The crowd inside University of the Pacific’s Faye Spanos Concert Hall on Friday was exhilarated.

Conscious rapper Talib Kweli’s show at the 900-seat concert hall had sold out. Before the show, fans waited outdoors in the rain for the venue’s doors to open – some for more than 90 minutes – in a line that stretched around the block.

Still, and despite a second long wait indoors for the headliner to take the stage, fans were loud and reacted with zeal to a great show by Kweli and his opening acts. The concert was sponsored by ASUoP and 209Vibe.

Stockton-based literary organization With Our Words began the evening by bringing several spoken-word poets to the mic. Sacramento-based Ike Torres hit the crowd first with his poem “I Am Money,” and he got fans hollering to the call and response “get money, money.”

Paul Mabon also got a standing ovation when, during a poem about sex, responsibility and pregnancy, he ran in front of the stage shouting, “Hallelujah, her period came. Thank you, Jesus!”

Poets Besskepp, Sara Shea and Stockton teen Isaac Stoneride drew similar love from the crowd for their works, and Sacramento-based beatboxer Butterscotch had fans dancing and cheering with her rhythmic vocal acrobatics. The audience went wild when the “America’s Got Talent” vet switched it up and reversed her beats.

The poets were followed by Sacramento rap group Righteous Movement, which was backed by The Park, a live band from San Francisco. When brought together, the funky grooves of the band and the fun, smooth flow of the rappers had those in the crowd out of their seats with their hands in the air.

Each rapper and musician on stage had a unique sound, voice and flow that created a powerful group. At least one fan compared them to The Roots.

After their hourlong set ended, the emcee told the crowd that Talib Kweli would be on stage in about 15 minutes. Thirty minutes later, fans were still waiting. That stretched into 45 minutes, leading a few fans to become impatient and boo.

On a few occasions, the crowd took up chanting Kweli’s name.

Finally, at about 10:55 p.m. and after an hourlong wait, the rapper arrived at Faye Spanos Concert Hall from his hotel. Fans forgot their frustrations and got out of their seats a few minutes later when the house lights dimmed.

They were amped by the time Kweli took the stage, wearing a leather jacket and black ballcap pulled low, and opened with “Eternalists” from his 2001 collaboration with Hi Tek, “Reflection Eternal.”

At first, the Brooklyn rapper seemed a little unsettled, staying near the center of the stage and looking like he needed the first few songs to get his bearings and tinker with the sound.

His flow and energy got stronger with each new beat from his DJ, however.

Kweli went on to play an hourlong set that demonstrated the range of hip-hop history and his impressive career. He dropped challenging, intelligent lyrics that boasted about his skills, examined love and addressed social issues, performing solo hits like “Listen!!!” as well as tracks from his many collaborations, including Black Star’s “Definition.”

The rapper and his DJ also got the crowd moving by taking on Bob Marley’s “Jammin’” and KRS-One’s “Sound of Da Police.” He brought the singer Res onstage for songs from their collaboration, Idle Warship, and performed a tribute to UGK’s Pimp C.

But while the range of his career is impressive, it’s Kweli’s lyrical flow that has really made fans and critics take notice. He often demonstrated Friday how he can move effortlessly between being smooth and rough, groovy and poetic.

Kweli showed how his ability to slow down, speed up and mount a lyrical attack may be unmatched in the rap game.

The party atmosphere in Faye Spanos hall grew with Kweli’s energy level, as fans danced and shouted along to his lyrics. They had forgotten the rain and the delays and were just having fun by the time Kweli closed with “Get By” at midnight.

He was only offstage a few minutes when the crowd’s chants of “Kweli” brought him back for an encore. The beat was old-school and funky, and Kweli called three b-boys to the stage to pop and lock as he rhymed.

It was a fun end to a show that was worth the wait.

RecordNetTalib Kweli performs at University of the Pacific

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