Live Review: Mos Def + Jay Electronica
Amos' South End, 9 p.m.
August 12, 2009
The Deal: Hip-hop's favorite MC-turned-leading- (more like supporting-) man, Mos Def, comes back through the Queen City with lots of new music and Jay Electronica riding shotgun.
The Good: What a difference a year makes for Jay Electronica. Last year he put on an awkward performance when he opened for Talib Kweli and Nas, but this time, he flashed a welcome confidence and humongous stage presence while performing tracks that were new to most of the crowd who weren't big fans before. Electronica did everything from read some local rappers flyer to the audience, to jumping in the thick of it to personalize one song to an audience member who wasn't a believer in his skills ...
... and forever changing the way you think of the Price is Right theme:
Mos Def was Mos Def, displaying the total package as a hip-hop artist, being able to switch from spitting, to singing, to even jumping on drums for a few times:
Although a lot of the show was new material from The Ecstatic ...
... he made sure longtime fans weren't left out, running through his classics and even some Black Star tracks. Mos also did his part to remember Michael Jackson, sporting the loafers and semi-high water pants, biting some dance moves and even covering "Billie Jean" in his nearly 2 hours on stage. Thank God the opening acts kept it brief.
The Bad: The "intermission" was a killer and the crowd did everything from boo to chanting Mos Def's name in the near-hour-long gap in between Jay Electronica finishing and him coming on. Electronica going acapella on a lot of tracks went from adding emphasis to just being overdone and the multiple grassy knoll references were a head scratcher. Mos Def's stage show was far from seamless. First he and the light guy couldn't get on the same page at all, stopping multiple times to plead for the lights to be turned on, off or another color. Then there was confusion between him and his 2 DJs a few times about how things should go. Mos also let his frustration with a few intoxicated fans requests get to him multiple times rather than just ignoring screams for "Mathematics" and other hit songs. In the latter part of the show, "Mighty Mos" began to lose his mighty voice, stopping short on some notes.
The Verdict: Good show, not great. Jay Electronica proved he's far more than just Erykah Badu's baby father and actually one of the nicest MCs I've ever heard that can tour without ever dropping an album or single. Mos Def just pulled more tools out of his belt, showing that while he may still be a little rusty from the time off, he's still a great performer.