Upon entering the venue, Jay Electronica’s instant underground classic, Dimethyltryptamine ushered us into the historic church turned venue to the stars. My wife and I were kind of surprised that it wasn’t packed out, but as Jay Electronica’s set progressed, the numbers steadily increased, while beats laced with Jay’s unrelentless cerebral flow of thoughts, dreams, and realities filled the capacity of the space. Effortlessly spitting verses from the Style Wars EP that made him an internet sensation in what seemed a mere matter of months, I’m sure a portion of his content flew over a lot of the audience’s heads, but as he stated “I’m glad you all aren’t jumping around (and wilding out) cuz that tells me that y’all are listening. I appreciate you listening!” Balancing humor and braggadocio, Jay kept the crowd open with jokes and a challenge of battling ANY emcee in the game, “Well except for Mos” he says lol..Another mentionable moment was his prologue to A Prayer For Michael Vick and T.I., where he acknowledged and compared the two’s mistakes versus the vicious cycle of wrongdoings of ”the powers that be”.

At the end of his set, he closed with a very well received prayer for peace and upliftment, a much needed gesture for this generation of hip hop culture. When was the last time you went to a show and was asked to hold hands with a stranger standing/sitting next to you? Well this was in a church, but you get what I mean..

The Mighty Mos Def’s set began a little late, yet right on time. Opening it up with the hypnotic drums, bass and keys of Fela’s Fear Not Of Man (bearing the same beat and title of his track on the Black On Both Sides LP), Mos enthusiastically rocked his translucent orange custom drum set while dropping his opening lyrics to the track. He then cheerfully greeted the crowd, “You could have been anywhere in the world, but you chose to be here with us tonight. Thank you and thank you again.” Remainder of this review here

(continued from pt.1)
After the tone was set, a flurry of beats, breaks, and samples followed, provided by DJ Preservation with his brother/deejay Abdul Rahman (aka Gold Medal Man) mostly holding down the instrumentals. The chemistry between Mos and his two deejays gave the performance a well rehearsed, but fresh feel to it, with the dopest interludes: a call and response/improvisational drum vs. deejay set, classic soul, blues, and a reggae set that transformed the dancefloor into an ocean of bodies swaying back and forth..all interspersed between each classic track after the next. Highlight tracks for me were The Auditorium and Ghetto Rock where I was literally on the verge of jumping on someone’s back – my apologies again to the folks whose feet I stepped on lol. Honorable mentions: Quiet Dog, Umi Says, Miss Fat Booty, and of course Casa Bey.

Another noteworthy part of the show was Mos’ paying homage to some of our ancestors/pioneers in music, James Brown, Michael Jackson, and Fela Kuti, to name a few. Showmanship, respect for the fans, and an overall love for the music was written all over his face throughout his entire set.

After the show Jay came and chatted with the Birmingham crew and even shared a photo of his and Erykah Badu’s beautiful baby daughter. You could see this brother’s face light up like the proud father that he is.
Big up to Sharrif for introducing us to Mos, who was cool enough to meet with us after the amount of energy he had already given us in his performance. What was even cooler was that he had his family on board with him for the tour: Moms, Dad, brother, and relatives all in tow.

Overall, the show was well worth the price, time, and travel to Atlanta. It’s always refreshing to see (in person) that real hip hop is pushing forward on a local, national and international level.

Big up to the Malcolm’s Reading Room crew and the rest of the Birmingham crew who came out to the show!

Photo Courtesy of Simone Snelling