New York was in the building Wednesday! We had Talib Kweli and Styles P play at the Cabooze with help from K’Valentine. As soon as I walked in I could feel the energy in the venue, packed with hip hop heads from the bathrooms to the balcony. I personally didn’t think that many people would be coming out to a hip hop show on a 15 degree night, but I was proven wrong. These two rappers aren’t household names but they sure are respected by their peers – such as Kanye West.
Talib’s protégé, K’Valentine, started off the night and got a chance to show off her skills to a Minneapolis crowd. Talib took K’Valentine under his wing after meeting her backstage at a show in Chicago (where she is from). I had a chance to talk to K’Valentine before the show:
How did you meet Talib Kweli?
“He had a show in Chicago (where I’m from) and my friend got me backstage. I had an opportunity to speak with him and I told him I rapped and he was interested in hearing the music and we’ve been working ever since”
How long ago was that?
“2 years ago”
What music do you two have together?
“He executive produced my last mixtape called “Million Dollar Baby”. Since then we’ve dropped the song “Cathedral”. We recently dropped his latest project “Awful People Are Good At Parties” which I feature on a couple songs”
When did you really start pursuing music and know that this is what you would do with your life?
“I started writing poetry at a young age and that was my outlet. Some people start smoking and doing other things but for me it was writing. I also have always had a love for hip hop so I started transitioning my poetry into songs.”
Do you face any adversity being a woman in hip hop?
“Yeah there’s pros and cons to everything. I have to deal with “fuck-boys”, people who look at me sexually and come at me in a disrespectful way sometimes, but it’s all a matter of being in touch with yourselves and staying true to yourself. I have morals and I know that what’s truly for me, is for me. No matter how long it takes I won’t compromise myself as a woman for what I stand for for nobody. I deal with certain things but I’m still going, nothing can stop me.”
Could you elaborate on the backlash that you received after making the song “Chiraq”? In terms of being from Chicago but not necessarily agreeing with what’s going on in the city violence wise
“Basically, Chicago has been given the nickname “Chiraq” because they compare our city to Iraq, just because of the amount of deaths due to gun violence. While our homicide rate is very high I just don’t think it’s beneficial for us to feed into the nickname we get. I’m not proud of “Chiraq” there are positive elements within the city that don’t get shown on the media, they pretty much focus on the negative. I also believe there is power in words so having people say “Chiraq this Chiraq that” words are powerful so I don’t claim that as my cities name, I don’t want to give that phrase any energy.”
With Technician the DJ still on the wheels of steel, Styles P took the stage next. Like Talib, Styles P is also from New York. He is currently under the label “D-Block” with other members Jadakiss and Sheek Louch. Prior to this, Styles P has had a very successful solo career with the release of his classic album “A Gangster and a Gentleman”. The crowd was going nuts as the rapper got off the stage and performed amongst the show goers.
DJ Spintelect took the stage next and got it ready for the headliner, Talib Kweli. He came out playing “Palookas” and paying homage to his recently deceased peer, Sean Price, who happens to to be featured on the song. Talib also played classics like “Never Been in Love”, “Stage of Grace” and “In This World”. About halfway through his set, Talib brought K Valentine back out on stage and introduced a new rapper by the name of “Niko Is”. Niko Is was born in Rio De Janeiro and currently resides in Orlando and is under Talib Kweli’s record label. Talib also took time to praise the long lost producer, J Dillan, and his love for the art of hip hop. He talked about how though hip hop may not directly reflect you as a person, it is still okay to love hip hop. In closing, you couldn’t have a Talib Kweli show without a political rant. About three-fourths of the way through his set, Talib went on a 15 minute tangent talking about his hatred for Donald Trump – specifically citing the Muslim ban. Most importantly his message focused on spreading love during these divided times and stressing that we are all equal. He then thanked the crowd and walked off stage. Hopefully you didn’t leave during the “encore” chants because Talib responded by not only going out on stage himself but by bringing Styles P with him. The crowd couldn’t have been more thrilled seeing two lyrical legends at the same time in an intimate setting like that. Quite the treat!