Blues and Soul Music Magazine

Issue 1084

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Black Star: Troxy, London 20/10/17

Black Star (Mos Def): Troxy, London 20/10/17 @bluesandsoul.com
Black Star (Mos Def): Troxy, London 20/10/17 @bluesandsoul.com Black Star (Talib Kweli): Troxy, London 20/10/17 @bluesandsoul.com Black Star (Talib Kweli & Mos Def): Troxy, London 20/10/17 @bluesandsoul.com Black Star (Talib Kweli & Mos Def): Troxy, London 20/10/17 @bluesandsoul.com Black Star (Talib Kweli): Troxy, London 20/10/17 @bluesandsoul.com Black Star (Talib Kweli): Troxy, London 20/10/17 @bluesandsoul.com Black Star (Talib Kweli): Troxy, London 20/10/17 @bluesandsoul.com Black Star (Talib Kweli): Troxy, London 20/10/17 @bluesandsoul.com Black Star (Talib Kweli): Troxy, London 20/10/17 @bluesandsoul.com Black Star (Talib Kweli): Troxy, London 20/10/17 @bluesandsoul.com Black Star (Mos Def): Troxy, London 20/10/17 @bluesandsoul.com Black Star (Mos Def): Troxy, London 20/10/17 @bluesandsoul.com Black Star (Mos Def): Troxy, London 20/10/17 @bluesandsoul.com Black Star (Mos Def): Troxy, London 20/10/17 @bluesandsoul.com

Way back in 1998, two young and hungry MCs teamed up to make one of the most acclaimed hip-hop albums of all time.

Mos Def and Talib Kweli's Black Star LP remains one of the genre's classics nearly two decades later, a powerful work which perfectly combines their contrasting styles.

They've both enjoyed incredible solo success, but that record is the only long-player they've collaborated on.

Appearances by the two are few and far between, and fans who'd never seen them together might have feared they'd missed their chance when Mos Def - these days known as Yasiin Bey - announced his retirement at the end of last year.

So the announcement that they were performing in London was a big deal, and posters branded it The Hip Hop Show of the Year.

Little surprise then that The Troxy was packed to when the rap legends took to the stage. It was nineteen years may have passed since the Black Star album came out, but the duo showed it still sounds fresh.

When I saw Yasiin Bey earlier this year, it was a stop-start performance that seemed lacking in energy. But there were no such problems with Kweli at his side, the MCs delivering a high tempo show that delivered on all its promise.

They tore through the album's high points, of which there are plenty, with versions of "Definition" and "Brown Skin Lady" showing the chemistry in the studio translates to the stage.

They also backed each other up when they launched into solo material, with Mos Def classics "Auditorium" and "Umi Says" and Kweli's "Get By" given outings.

As ever, Kweli was on point, and Bey delivered the strongest performance I've seen from him (this was the fourth time I'd seen him live, including a Black Star three years ago).

There was an added bonus when Wu Tang's RZA appeared on the stage... If the crowd were hyped up before, the guest sent them through the stratosphere.

Seeing three legends for the price of two was an unexpected turn of events, and ensured the audience left happy.

The fact the show happened at all raises doubt about how serious Yasiin Bey is about retiring. So if/when they do grace these shores again, they are well worth catching.

DAVE BURKE: PHOTOS
Words Dave Burke

From Jazz Funk & Fusion To Acid Jazz

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