Talib Kweli brings Detroit love to Saint Andrew’s show

Julie Walker Altesleben
The Detroit News

With a fist raised high most of the night, Talib Kweli electrified a packed house Saturday night at Saint Andrew’s Hall. The Brooklyn-bred activist and MC laced the show with Detroit love during his nearly two-hour set.

Talib Kweli headlines during the Detroit leg of his The Seven Tour at St. Andrew's Hall on Feb. 4.

Kweli raced onstage close to midnight, launching into “Listen” while rocking a ball cap, jeans, T-shirt, green fatigue jacket and construction boots, followed by the RZA-produced, “Rocket Ships.”

Kweli preached Detroit hip-hop love to a crowd comprised of a healthy mix of suburbanites, city dwellers and local artists such as D-12’s Mr. Porter, DJ Dez, Miz Korona, and the newly wedded Venus Sky and Lord Jessiah. Kweli called albums like Slum Village’s “Fan-tas-tic Vol. 1” gospel as he shouted out “Rest In Peace” to fallen Detroit artists, including SV’s Baatin and J Dilla.

“Sing along if you know it,” Kweli cooed, delighting fans as he and DJ Spintelect performed a mashup of Slum Village favorites, including “The Look of Love,” and “Fantastic Vol. 4.”

In addition to bringing out up-and-coming Chicago native K’Valentine, who performed earlier in the night, Kweli introduced Brazilian-born artist NICO IS to perform a couple tracks. Both NICO IS and K’Valentine are on Kweli’s Javotti Media label.

Not surprisingly, Kweli worked in political commentary near the end of his set, calling out people like Tina Campbell from the gospel duo Mary Mary, among others, for supporting a president whom he did not immediately mention by name.

Referencing the “p-word” incident, Kweli said, “If a (expletive) says he gets to grab your mother, or your daughter’s (expletive), without permission, because he’s a star and she’ll let him do it, he can’t be president…

“And if you don’t care about that, (expletive) you. And you can leave right now.”

Kweli told the clearly appreciative fans there would be no black intellectuals lining up to visit the White House this term.

“He thinks the black experience is entertaining him… If it was my choice, I’d have Jessica Care Moore go speak to Donald Trump,” Kweli said, surprising fans by bringing out the Detroit actress, activist and poet.

Looking fierce in high-heeled black boots and one of her trademark hats, a cream-colored cowboy style, Care Moore delivered a couple verses from her song, “I’m From Detroit.” A longtime friend of Kweli, Care Moore also is on the Javotti label.

Native Detroit rocker Steffanie Christi’an came out after Care Moore, dancing and growling out a husky duet with Kweli to his hit, “Get By.”

Earlier in the evening, underground artists Dope Div — brothers Huey Freshman and Ali Keys, and cousin Jru Nukem — opened the show. The energetic trio got it hopping with songs mostly from its sophomore mixtape, “Office Hours,” released in November.

Wu-Tang Clan songstress Blue Raspberry transfixed with haunting vocals from track “Stormy Weather” to introduce Detroit super group, The Almighty Dreadnaughtz. Members Alius PNukkl, 01, Guilty Simpson, Supa Emcee, Konphlict, Kawshus and Kutty Mack performed, kicking out songs like “Sicker Than Average,” “The Real Hip-Hop” and “You Ain’t Really Down,” with Detroit’s DJ Los punctuating on the 1s and 2s.

“We’ve been here since 1986,” producer and emcee Konphlict roared, no doubt referencing the tendency of local hip-hop artists to get more love from outside the city than within.

Chicago artist K’Valentine performs at St. Andrew's Hall in Detroit on Feb. 4.

K’Valentine strutted out next rocking blue-streaked hair and a veteran’s confidence.

With Spintelect spinning, K’Valentine moved the crowd for about 45 minutes, switching easily between rapping to a beat and a cappella, stopping once to encourage folks to make 2017 a year for goals to bloom into reality.

Styles P, known most prominently for his work with The Lox, began his set by hollering out the Detroit greeting, “What up, Doe?!”

Bobbing and weaving across the stage in Pumas and a knit cap, Styles P spit bars and jokes making it clear he was enjoying himself in the city before moving into the crowd rapping parts of Luniz’s “I Got 5 On It” and his own “I Get High.”

Styles P, collaborating most recently with Kweli under the moniker and tour namesake “The Seven,” gave props for the diverse Saint Andrew’s crowd, saying in so many words that people who don’t like one another due to race are jerks.

Kweli’s The Seven tour was set to hit Connecticut and Philadephlia after Detroit, eventually wrapping in Washington, D.C.