Reflection Eternal to appear at First Ave Saturday
As far as hip hop goes, radio still pushes the club bangers and anything that mentions Bentleys, and the indie scene has had so much coke-rap dropped in its lap that, by now, it should have had a massive heart attack five times over. But if the cold viciousness of the drug grind isn't your favorite subject, you might be tiring of the glut of ice-encrusted ex-hustlers that favor a badass image over lyrical skill, bravado over brains. Dig a bit deeper and you'll find that socially-aware rap wasn't killed in a hail of gunfire; it's still alive and touring, even if the spotlight lingers elsewhere. Reflection Eternal (a collaboration between Brooklyn MC Talib Kweli and Cincinnati's DJ Hi-Tek) released the Train of Thought album way back in 2000, but it still stands up as a conscious genre classic, a collection of rhymes and beats more concerned with community than cocaine--but was it fun, too?
Hell yes it was fun. In between Talib's vivid character sketches are party tracks like "Move Somethin'" and laidback burners like "The Blast"; these two know they've got to hook you before any kind of message can sink in. If Kweli is the Patron Saint of Backpack Rap, sacrificing a place on the charts for a message he really believes in, his miracle might be that he can turn a serious subject into party-igniting fire. And, other than Mos Def, perhaps no one compliments Kweli's verbose style like DJ Hi-Tek, who constructs beats that serve as a rock-solid foundation for his partner's spirited flow. Even if the rumored second album never materializes, Kweli and Hi-Tek could retire the Reflection Eternal name knowing that they have a masterwork already under their belts. Luckily, it doesn't seem like they're even close to quitting.
No, this tour seems to be an appetizer for a new collection of RE jams, a stab at recreating the thoughtful magic of their first and only album. And, to sweeten the deal, the rest of the bill looks like an all-star lineup of underground rap heroes, including legendary producer Pete Rock, supergroup Slaughterhouse, and a Slum Village performance memorializing J Dilla and Baatin. Do your best to forget about grills, sneakers, and pounds of illicit materials for the time being--it's time to put your hands in the air and wave them around like you really do care.
Rock the Bells presents Reflection Eternal w/ Slaughterhouse, Slum Village, Supernatural, and Pete Rock - Saturday, August 22nd - First Ave Mainroom - $30 - 5 pm - 18+
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