Cred Where Cred Is Due

Talib Kweli

Something amazing happened to hip-hop in the past 10 years. It came up and split apart like a beautiful atom into subgenres worthy of what the artists had been fighting for going on some three decades—the respect they deserve. Not just "I'm down with the cause/trying to look tough/confiscating a style/sonically declaring it from your car," but actual respect—the kind of artistic credit these artists, poets and musicians deserve and have been demanding longer than most painters have ever offered their work to social consensus. Duchamp didn't give a shit what you thought of his toilet; it was his statement. And for all these years, hip-hop has been making its own.

What started as a laughable entrance into the mainstream (what, you mean us whiteys?) via an MTV that initially neither understood nor cared about the music, a more commercially independent scene has risen to challenge the dominant Top 40. Consisting of educated poets, artists well-acquainted with hardship and people who have had to fight for everything, including and especially their art, independent hip-hop was born—with a fury. By now, independent hip-hop has had its hits, Oprah appearances and near empires built up from the streets thanks to the messengers. Some MCs have so much to say, so much flow, so much style and poetry you have to just put your hands in the air and say, "Well done." Talib Kweli is one of these poets. Talib, which means "student" in Arabic, has been sending his message on his own and with his Mos Def collaboration, Black Star, beginning in 1998. Recently summoned by Dave Chappelle to perform at his Brooklyn "Block Party," Talib Kweli continues to blow people away with his lyrical styles. Anyone who can write "I see collective, not individual" and throw out Langston Hughes references is worth catching live. Even in Anaheim.

Talib Kweli with William Tell at the House of Blues, 1530 S. Disneyland Dr., Anaheim, (714) 778-2583; www.hob.com/venues/clubvenues/anaheim/. Mon., 8 p.m. $29.50-$33. All ages.

 
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