Peninsular Place

The Magazine

June 7, 2012

Talib Kweli @ the Blind Pig [Review]

Talib Kweli

Not since Mac Miller performed back in December of 2010 have I seen the Blind Pig so full of life. It helped that it was a sold out show – when you get Talib Kweli at a venue the size of the Pig, holding capacity becomes moot. I thought the place was gonna buckle over its hoofs and plop onto the 8Ball Saloon underneath.

Yeah, last Saturday night may have been the hip-hop highlight of the summer for Ann Arbor. Kweli’s following is both loyal and massive, a rare combo in a crowded genre where those at the very top are liked by many and loved by few, while those with a densely loyal fan base usually take some digging to get to. The crowd proved this: a group as diverse as you’ll see at about any show was holding up their hands and nodding their heads on command, with many nailing the lyrics along with Kweli – I noticed a few people even had entire songs memorized. And the sound system made certain they weren’t heard over Kweli, or this would have been more annoying than impressive.

Getting closer to the front meant risking injury, and this was before Kweli even took the stage. Opener Slum Village’s classic song “Selfish” produced a craze that carried over to Kweli’s set. Bottles were dropped, people were lifted upon shoulders and hands and heads, and small smoke clouds occasionally rose to the ceiling, but this was not an out-of-control scene (unlike, say, an Odd Future show). This could have something to do with the nature of Kweli’s music: often categorized as “socially conscious,” his lyrics bypass common topics in hip-hop for something more poignant and philosophical, yet never lacking in energy and urgency.

Hip-hop is saturated with odes to drugs, sex and violence. Kweli takes these for what they are: elements that play a part in life, but are by no means the whole show. No wonder so many find that his brand of hip-hop hits closer to home.

I couldn’t help thinking, as Kweli hunched over as if trying to get level with the crowd, lightly gripping the tip of his hat and moving his mic-less hand with power and precision, that he had the demeanor of Jay-Z. But both rappers represent Brooklyn in their own distinct way, and, interestingly, Hova has put his respect for Kweli on record (check out “Moment of Clarity” from The Black Album).

Whether you’re a fan of Kweli’s or just a fan of smart hip-hop, you won’t be disappointed by one of his shows. It’s unlikely that he’ll be back in Michigan this summer, but if you’re one of the lucky few with Bonnaroo passes then you’ll be seeing him soon. Look out for his new album, entitled “Prisoner of Consciousness,” due out later this summer.

About the Author

Paul Kitti
Paul Kitti
Paul is another awesome member of the iSPY team.

Peninsular Place



“We basically wanted to have something completely inclusive, non-judgmental, super-fun and where we get to play the Spice Girls whenever we want,” says Justin Anderson (J Clark the Groovemaster to partygoers) when asked to ...
by Jasmine Zweifler

Greensky Bluegrass - Photo by Michael Weintrob

Greensky Bluegrass

Kalamazoo-based bluegrass sensation Greensky Bluegrass has had a busy summer, gaining steam with festivals and sold-out shows and playing with some of the biggest names in music. And now they will be making a stop at the Blind ...
by Mary Simkins



The Redneck Poet from Gadsden, Alabama Drive about two hours northeast of the beautiful University of Alabama campus and you’ll reach Gadsden. It’s the kind of place where shotguns are toted as loosely as iPods, where you�...
by Paul Kitti



Saul Williams @ the Blind Pig

Click here for an introduction to Saul Williams through a recent interview.  By the time I arrived at the Blind Pig this past Tuesday night, Dessa had already been on stage for a few minutes and had the crowd on her charming h...
by Paul Kitti

Peninsular Place

Girls, Man + Chris goes back to the Cocoon ?

How many pop-songs are inspired by girls? Probably impossible to count… From the Beatles to Weezer, Chuck Berry to Bon Iver, there’s infinite inspiration for any heavyhearted roses-are-red-type-boy when he starts musing upo...
by Jeff Milo



Saul Williams

Get Inside the Mind of the World’s Greatest Slam Poet, Actor, Author and Musician Saul Williams is restless. As a slam poet, he can be kind, ferocious, funny, existential, dramatic and sensitive, all within the same minute. ...
by Paul Kitti

The Last Word - by Kristin Slater

The Last Word

Comfortably hidden below LIVE in the spot that used to house Goodnite Gracie’s in Ann Arbor, The Last Word bar opened quietly about six months ago. Their updated yet understated approach to nightlife compliments the almost an...
by Stefanie Stauffer

Kelly Klever Massage


Music Makers // Congress – Shigeto – SelfSays and Buffay, too

I’m indoors cuz I can’t go out… Actually, I can’t get out. Over here in metro Detroit, the indomitable/abominable Woodward Dream Cruise is currently slugging through our main vein of transportation, with pop-up carnival...
by Jeff Milo

The Ragbirds

8.12.12 Sonic Lunch // The Ragbirds

Before embarking on their “Six Wheels on the Road Fall Tour” next month, The Ragbirds are giving Bank of Ann Arbor’s Sonic Lunch a live performance this Thursday at Liberty Plaza. The very international but a...
by Jenn Sibert

chasing vapors

The American Mars’ Chasing Vapors – Aug 18 @ The Ark

I have this one performance by American Mars emblazoned into my memory. A summer night I could easily go back to just by hearing any of their twang-strut/dreamscapes sweeping strange space-rock styles over dusky plains, even th...
by Jeff Milo