Mos Def Carling Islington Academy live
Mos Def is a man of many talents. Equal parts, actor, musician, rapper and activist, he was the poster boy for the independent hip-hop movement in the late 90’s. His first solo album, Black On Both Sides, was hailed a classic. His second, The New Danger, was not received as kindly. It made bold forays into new musical territory; exactly the sort of thing which makes hip-hop traditionalists from the Bronx to Berkshire turn up their noses. Having begun recording his fourth album, Extatic, with the likes of Kanye West and producer extraordinaire Madlib, it looks like he may just win back a few fans who felt he had lost his way.
A packed house gives the slight Brooklynite a raucous welcome as he takes the stage to the lullaby-esque Boogie Man Song. He runs through a selection of his new works, including one that he promises will be a collaboration with arguably this country’s greatest export to America, Slick Rick.
A charismatic performer, he doesn’t miss a beat as he banters with the audience, labelling the too-cool-to-move sections of the crowd ‘Fonzies’, donning a top hat just for the hell of it, and getting the audience involved in some good old fashioned call and response routines. Despite an unscheduled break for a mini conference with his DJ, the audience remains fully engaged. “Feel free to talk amongst yourselves”, he murmurs, before humming some hold music.
After regular service is resumed, he closes the show out with some of his biggest hits to date. Defintion energises all in attendance, while Ms Fat Booty is lengthened and remixed just for the occasion. Umi Says finds him leading a sing-a-long, before he finally saunters off stage. This is hip-hop as it was intended; no special effects, no million dollar budgets. Just a man and a microphone.
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