Coming to The Vogue Theatre on Sunday, April 17th.
Ever since emerging as a member of Black Star in the late 1990s, Talib Kweli is one of the few artists making commercially viable music that matters. The Brooklyn bred rapper’s hard-hitting music has been able to educate and entertain simultaneously. So it is no wonder that at the peak of their fame, both Jay-Z and 50 Cent named Talib Kweli as one of their favorite rappers.
With Ear Drum, his first album released on his own Blacksmith Music and his sixth album overall, Kweli has delivered his career-defining work, a polished collection showcasing his advanced lyricism and his penchant for picking music that resonates long after the song ends.
“The image of the ear and of the drum are powerful enough by themselves, but when you put them together, it’s an instrument that’s in your body that helps you hear,” he explains. “They’re also two very simple, yet powerful words. I wanted to focus on finding a sound that makes you move, and that’s where the word ‘Ear Drum’ popped in my head.”
Throughout Ear Drum, Kweli delivers powerful music that sparks your intellect and makes your body move. He teams with Reflection Eternal partner Hi-Tek on “More Or Less.” Over pounding drums and a minimalistic groove, Kweli makes brash declarations on how to improve music specifically and American society in general. “A statement like, we need ‘more rap songs that stress purpose/With less misogyny and less curses/Let’s put more depth in our verses,’ I haven’t made bold, blatant statements since that like ‘Manifesto.’ There are fans of mine that really appreciate those statements because there are times when those statements need to be made.”
An equally bold Ear Drum moment comes on “Country Cousins,” which features Kweli trading verses with UGK and Raheem DeVaughn. Over a soulful beat accented by brassy horns, Kweli, Bun B and Pimp C talk about the reality of their experiences growing up in New York and Texas, respectively. “People have the perception of what an East Coast artist sounds like, who he’s supposed to be listening to and what he likes, and what a Down South artist sounds like,” Kweli explains. “There’s preconceived notions and that’s really what the song with Bun and Pimp C is about, the preconceived notions between East Coast artists and Down South artists.”
Throughout Ear Drum, Kweli makes a point to explore new topics, collaborate with a variety of artists and rap over distinctively innovative production. It is part of Kweli’s growth as an artist and as a person. “We need to challenge our audience but we also need to challenge ourselves to know that whatever our new experiences are, we can write about them, be creative and bring that to an audience without them feeling alienated,” he says.
Long-time Talib Kweli followers will say the same thing about him. Since his stellar debut with Mos Def as Black Star, Kweli has been one of rap’s most exceptional and consistent artists. Released in 2000, Reflection Eternal, the RIAA-certified gold album with Hi-Tek, was one of the most acclaimed albums of the year. In 2002, smash single “Get By,” the biting political commentary “The Proud” and the insightful examination of America’s gun culture on “Gun Music” made Quality a landmark recording and Kweli’s second gold album. Subsequent recordings in 2004 (The Beautiful Struggle) and 2005 (Right About Now) solidified his status as one of rap’s most talented and important voices.
Now, after establishing himself as a rap visionary, Kweli along with long-time manager Corey Smyth launched Blacksmith Music. The pair signed an exclusive deal with Warner Bros. to market, promote, and distribute the music of Blacksmith artists. Following Kweli’s release on Blacksmith/WBR there will be a new solo album from Jean Grae, the critically acclaimed South African-born female rapper who is among the most respected female rappers in the history of the genre. Rolling Stone called her “the best kept secret on New York&..39;s indie hip-hop scene,” while XXL, Spin, Village Voice, URB and others have labeled her an artist to watch. Strong Arm Steady, a forthcoming Blacksmith/WBR release, is a super group whose members are platinum rapper and Pimp My Ride host Xzibit, Los Angeles underground star Phil The Agony, lyrical assassin Krondon and San Diego rap pioneer Mitchy Slick. Strong Arm Steady has been one of the few West Coast acts to build a rabid fanbase through mixtapes.
Kweli hopes Blacksmith will create a movement with Jean Grae and Strong Arm Steady, much as his own music has. “With Blacksmith, I want it to be a flag that everyone can wave,” he says. “I want to be packing shows and I want people to feel like they were up on Jean Grae and Strong Arm Steady before anybody else was.”
In the mean time, the lyrically and sonically potent Ear Drum demonstrates that strong, powerful messages can serve as the backbone for music at its best. “The vast majority of my subject matter focuses on black self-love, black self esteem, black self worth,” Kweli says. “That translates to other communities because if you’re a human being, it doesn’t matter what color you’re talking about. You’ve been through some sort of struggle and you can apply it to your own life.”
Especially after listening to Ear Drum.
Local Support from:
*Oreo Jones (Indy’s Best Rapper IMO)
Who is Oreo jones? This past spring, Oreo Jones took the hip-hop and indie music scenes of Indianapolis by storm with the release of his Delicious EP on Heavy Gun Recordings and was recently voted the 2nd favorite hip-hop act in Nuvo Newsweekly. The Delicious EP was led by the success of his single “Good Times” which has been featured on several national music blogs and charted up to #4 on the Hypem.com Twitter chart. In short, Oreo Jones is an artist that should be paid attention!
When a city embraces a new artist, it only feels right to give back to the community. In that spirit, for his Oreo Jones and Friends EP, Oreo joined forces with X103, Butler Scion, My Old Kentucky Blog, and Heavy Gun Recordings to assist VH1’s Save The Music. Protecting music programs in our schools is a cause near and dear to Oreo as his mother and aunts are public school teachers. The project features collaborations between Mr. Jones and Jookabox, Woodhands, BLKNHBD, We Are Hex, Laura Balke, Grey Granite, and J. Brookinz. The EP was released on Thursday, January 13th for free, with listeners encouraged to donate whatever possible to Save the Music via Heavy Gun’s Bandcamp. All money donated through the Band Camp will be passed along to VH1’s Save The Music. The release was also accompanied by a free show and benefit raffle at Local’s Only that night with performances from Oreo, Jookabox, Andy D., Grey Granite, and special guests.
Between his music and growing internet presence, Oreo Jones is poised to be on the tips of every tongue this year. Oreo is currently working with his go-to producer 90 Lbs on their follow up to the Delicious EP. Titled Super Model Death Dive, the project has a scheduled release date of mid March 2011. Additionally, Oreo launched his new cooking show “Let’s Do Lunch w/ Oreo Jones”in late 2010 to much fanfare. The project has recently been adopted by IUPUI’s student media, where the show will be now produced in the university’s studios.
One of a rare breed of genuine and diverse artists, alpha.live draws from the passion, pain and storied beauty of life itself. Through his gift of storytelling and vivid imagery, alpha. paints a world splashed with introspective wisdom and a mastery of lyricism.
Sharp, witty, prolific, and candid, this humble wordsmith strives to leave an indelible mark upon each listener by being a voice to the voiceless, without preaching. An ‘MC’s MC’, his solid history and active involvement in the Indianapolis’ Hip Hop and arts community show his dedication to giving back and growing the culture at home.
Featured as one of the top freestyle MC’s by Indianapolis’ weekly magazine NUVO, alpha. is a seasoned Hip Hop artist with mass appeal. Never one to limit himself, alpha. is also a genre spanning songwriter, always looking to lend his writing talents and credibility to talented artists of all types. His Grammy-driven approach to his artistry keeps him focused on creating moving, relevant, and timeless music.
From dance floor grooves, to elaborate story telling, to just raw lyricism, alpha.live is a force to be respected, and sought after. Add to that the intense passion and dramatic flair he infuses each live performance with, it is clear alpha.live is not merely an artist, but an EXPERIENCE.
The Vogue Theatre
6259 N. College Ave.
Doors @ 7, Show @ 8
Tickets are $20 advance, $22 day of
On Sale March 11
No Smoking Show
Luna Music N. College location in-store performance @ 6pm
Door @ the Vogue open @ 7pm with show starting @ 8pm