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Talib Kweli, DMC, Slick Rick, Rakim And Bob James Perform At The Blue Note

Updated: Mar 18

For the second year in a row Talib Kweli perfomed at The Blue Note with legendary jazz pianist Bob James. Kweli brought a few of Hip-Hop’s biggest names as special guests including DMC, Slick Rick and Rakim plus a full band for the shows held on February 7th – 9th.

Since 1981, The Blue Note has been called home by some of the greatest jazz musicians including Dizzy Gillespie, Ray Brown and Tito Puente. Stevie Wonder, Tony Bennett, Liza Minelli and many others have also performed there. The club is a cultural institution in New York City.

Talib Kweli is one of the most lyrically-gifted rappers to emerge in the last 20 years. He was born in Brooklyn but made his debut in 1997 with five appearances on the album Doom by Cincinnati group Mood. That is where he also met Hi-Tech and collaborated on a few underground recordings as Reflection Eternal.

When returning to New York, he formed Black Star with fellow Brooklyn rapper Mos Def. They then released their critically acclaimed album Mos Def & Talib Kweli Are Black Star in 1998. Talib has also had a huge solo career including collaborations with producers and rappers Kanye West, Just Blaze, Madlib and Pharrell Williams. Next month Kweli and Madlib will be dropping the sequel to their 2007 album Liberation.

Bob James is undoubtedly one of Hip-Hop’s most sampled artists. James recorded his first solo album after being discovered by Quincy Jones at the Notre Dame Jazz Festival in 1963. Two of his songs, “Nautilus” and “Take Me to the Mardi Gras” are among the most sampled in hip hop history. The title track to James’ 1981 album Sign of the Times was sampled in De La Soul’s “Keepin’ the Faith” and Warren G’s “Regulate”. N.W.A.’s “Alwayz into Somthin” uses a sample of “Storm King” from the album Three. He also wrote “Angela”, the theme song for the TV show Taxi which he performed at Tuesday’s show.

On Tuesday night, Talib Kweli’s special guest was Darryl “DMC” McDaniels. They performed Run-DMC hits “Rock Box”, “It’s Tricky”, “Peter Piper” and “Walk This Way.” Run-DMC is regarded as one of the most influential acts in the history of hip hop culture and probably the most famous hip hop act of the 1980’s. The group was among the first to highlight the importance of the MC and the DJ relationship. They were the first hip hop act to achieve a Gold Record and also the first to go platinum. Their cover of “Walk This Way” actually featured Aerosmith and became one of the best known songs in hip hop and rock while combining the two cultures.

Havoc from Mobb Deep also made an appearance at Talib Kweli’s Tuesday night show. Him and Kweli performed Mobb Deep classics “The Learning” and “Quiet Storm”. Kweli’s band, Whisky Boys, include Brady Watt on bass, Chris Rob on keys, Matthias Loescher on guitar an Camau Bernstine on drums.

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