Talib Kweli & Immortal Technique, Niko Is, CF, Hasan Salaam | Cat's Cradle | Clubs & Concerts | Indy Week
This is a past event.

Talib Kweli & Immortal Technique, Niko Is, CF, Hasan Salaam 

When: Thu., April 9, 9 p.m. 2015
Price: $22-$25
TALIB KWELI, IMMORTAL TECHNIQUE | THURSDAY, APRIL 9

CAT'S CRADLE, CARRBORO—Would-be listeners heralded the release of Kendrick Lamar's To Pimp A Butterfly as one of this year's biggest hip-hop events, even before the album announcement had been made. Subsequent discussion about the record arrived as an elaborate package of verbosity and intention. Many expressed awe and amazement, for instance, at the album's finale, "Mortal Man," which features a simulated conversation between Lamar and Tupac Shakur, culled from a 1994 Swedish interview with the late emcee.

Just as the Book of Revelation warns against tampering with scripture, however, Harlem rapper Immortal Technique had already admonished such behavior: "When niggas speculate what the fuck Pac would say," he spit in 2003. "You don't know shit about a dead man's perspective/And talking shit'll get your neck bone disconnected." Given his outspoken history, Immortal Technique has likely dismissed Lamar as another coffee-shop revolutionary by now. And his tourmate, Brooklyn native Talib Kweli, previously dubbed hype for Lamar's "Control" premature.

But it's hard to imagine To Pimp A Butterfly existing without groundwork laid by Kweli and Immortal Technique. They first captured praise around the turn of the century, with records that drew upon current events and issues of urban importance. Before hashtags like #BlackLivesMatter made it easy for artists to enlist in outrage without expressing substantive opinions, so-called conscious rappers spread their messages through clear verse during the Bush years. When Immortal Technique called repeatedly to censure and impeach Dubya, he did so when major label rappers were more concerned with getting caught ridin' dirty. With observational anecdotes and progressive pleas, Kweli's first two solo albums frequently recalled and paralleled Curtis Mayfield's own beginnings during times of civil tumult.

Though Lamar's sentiments and passion seem to be in the right place, the oft-poetic To Pimp A Butterfly lacks the directness of Immortal Technique's Revolutionary volumes. His iambic illness squares better with Kweli's groundbreaking Black Star project, which feels now like the spiritual godfather of Lamar's current opus. Perhaps someday, these alternate generations of the outspoken can actually swap verses instead of trade barbs. With Niko Is, CF and Hasan Salaam. 9 p.m., $22–$25, 300 E. Main St., Carrboro, 919-967-9053, www.catscradle.com. —Gary Suarez

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