Up until Saturday I was convinced that most hip-hop artist while entertaining on the radio and in videos are mediocre in concert. One rapper rhyming over a beat can be monotonous and uninspiring. In fact, Until Yasiin Bey aka Mos Def hit the stage at 930 Club I was sure that I would rather rap along with rappers while getting dressed for work then watch them perform. I am not a huge Mos Def fan, in fact I can only name you his mainstream hits like “Ms. Fat Booty” or “Umi Says.” I can name the movies I’ve seen him in like “Brown Sugar” or “Something the Lord Made.” I walked in a skeptic and walked out a believer.
The 930 Club is one of the only venues that’s awesome enough to display the headliner’s set time on their event page. This is especially convenient for hip-hop concerts because the opening acts are sure to be hit or miss unknown rappers that could really ruin your experience if their terrible. I just wanted to walk in, find a spot, and watch Mos Def work. I have friends who are huge fans and rave about him being a great performer. However, I have seen plenty of rappers on stage alone or with a crew of 15+ and have not been really entertained. To add insult to injury my friends could never actually tell me what he did or performed that made his shows so great. Yet they continuously pay to go see this guy.
Well, seeing Mos Def in concert was by far the most entertaining experience I’ve had attending a show where the performer is one person on stage. Here’s the kicker! I can’t really explain in words why the show was so awesome. All I can say is when you think of the word “Hip-Hop artist” he is the absolute unadulterated epitome of charismatic lyricism.
On stage there was long table draped with black cloth behind which his sound engineers/DJs orchestrated his entire performance. The video behind him played a blurry overexposed unidentifiable nonsensical movie. Then there was Mos Def dressed in a white button up shirt, white pants, bowtie, and brown shoes gripping his custom red Super 55 Shure Mic rhyming like his life depended on it. He is a veteran he could have cut corners, played it real chill, and just rapped. He gave every song his all. He did a little shuffle of the feet, rocked out to a rock song, sweated through his white shirt jumping around on stage all while rapping and singing ON KEY! His DJs were on point.
It was as if the three of them were making up the set together as they went along. They would consult each other with body language as well as Mos Def visiting the table a few times to ask their opinions. Throughout the show he continuously thanked the fans and cracked a joke while untangling the mic chord saying “whip it like Django!” My favorite moment in the show was seeing him perform “Umi Says” live. This is a song that I listen to when I need inspiration. It has gotten me through many of life’s rough patches.
He took a moment in his set to play several tracks from the late great Hip-Hop producer J. Dilla. Interestingly enough the crowd at the 9:30 club did not recognize the tracks. He didn’t let that stop his tribute. He was so involved in honoring him and vibing to the tracks that the crowd had no choice but to join in. His set went back and forth between classic Mos Def to the newer Mos Def. Watching most rappers perform is just a performance. Seeing Mos Def live was an experience that including a hype that you can only fathom if you’re in the room. I walked in a skeptic and walked out racing to Spotify to create a playlist of every Mos Def song new or classic that I could find. I just wanted/needed more. When he comes into town again I am sure to be there!
Watch the Duck