Talib Kweli and Hi-Tek preach to the faithful at Brooklyn Bowl

Talib Kweli at Brooklyn Bowl.
Photo: Erik Kabik
Mike Pizzo

Four stars

Talib Kweli & Hi-Tek January 24, Brooklyn Bowl.

Considering our city has high-end replica versions of the Eiffel Tower, the Egyptian pyramids and the Statue of Liberty, there’s some irony in Talib Kweli performing at a Vegas venue modeled after the one in his hometown. On Sunday, Brooklyn Bowl hosted Kweli and Hi-Tek, aka duo Reflection Eternal, responsible for 2000’s classic album Train of Thought and its 2010 follow-up Revolutions Per Minute.

The show marked Kweli’s return to the venue after packing the house almost a year ago to the date. But with Hi-Tek joining him, this was a decidedly different performance. The two graced the stage, both grasping mics and commanding the mostly bearded crowd to wave its hands in a careless manner. After some brief mic time, Hi-Tek manned the decks as the two ran through a collection of classic cuts, surprisingly dropping the mellow, bittersweet “Memories Live” at the top of the show, quickly gaining more discerning fans’ trust. Staples like “Move Somethin’” and “Get By,” along with Kweli’s verse from Kanye West’s “Get em High” achieved the desired effect of bouncing backpackers and B-girls, while deeper cuts like “The Blast” and Black Star’s “Respiration” created a cool mood.

“Hip-hop culture is the most unifying culture on the whole planet. It brings together more races, more religions and different backgrounds than anything else,” Talib preached midway through the show, perhaps indirectly addressing Macklemore’s Iggy Azalea mention on “White Privilege II,” which Kweli had been debating with fans on Twitter just moments before hitting the stage. “There is nothing racist about hip-hop music. Hip-Hop music is the opposite of racism. But it comes from pain, struggle and oppression. You can’t just benefit from it and ignore those things.”

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