Fri, September 28, 2012
Doors: 6:30 pm / Show: 8:00 pm
The Capitol Theatre
Port Chester, NY
$52.75 / $37.75 / $32.75
This event is 18 and over
This event has been rescheduled. Refunds available at point of purchase. Tickets are available for Soul Planetarium – Featuring DJ sets by Questlove, Talib Qweli, and Q-Tip
The Roots’ focus on live music began back in 1987 when rapper Black Thought (Tariq Trotter) and drummer ?uestlove (Ahmir Khalib Thompson) became friends at the Philadelphia High School for Creative Performing Arts. Playing around school, on the sidewalk, and later at talent shows (with ?uestlove’s drum kit backing Black Thought’s rhymes), the pair began to earn money and hooked up with bassist Hub (Leon Hubbard) and rapper Malik B. Moving from the street to local clubs, the Roots became a highly tipped underground act around Philadelphia and New York. When they were invited to represent stateside hip-hop at a concert in Germany, the Roots recorded an album to sell at shows; the result, Organix, was released in 1993 on Remedy Records. With a music industry buzz surrounding their activities, the Roots entertained offers from several labels before signing with DGC that same year.
The Roots’ first major-label album, Do You Want More?!!!??!, was released in January 1995; forsaking usual hip-hop protocol, the album was produced without any samples or previously recorded material. It peaked just outside the Top 100, but was mostly ignored by fans of hip-hop. Instead, Do You Want More?!!!??! made more tracks in alternative circles, partly due to the Roots playing the second stage at Lollapalooza that summer. The band also journeyed to the Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland. Two of the guests on the album who had toured around with the band, human beatbox Rahzel the Godfather of Noyze — previously a performer with Grandmaster Flash and LL Cool J — and Scott Storch (later Kamal), became permanent members of the group.
Early in 1996, the Roots released Clones, the trailer single for their second album. It hit the rap Top Five, and created a good buzz for the album. The following September, Illadelph Halflife appeared and made number 21 on the album charts. Much like its predecessor, though, the Roots’ second LP was a difficult listen. It made several very small concessions to mainstream rap — the bandmembers sampled material that they had recorded earlier at jam sessions — but failed to make a hit of their unique sound. The Roots’ third album, 1999′s Things Fall Apart, was easily their biggest critical and commercial success; The Roots Come Alive followed later that year.
The long-awaited Phrenology was released in late November 2002 amid rumors of the Roots losing interest in their label arrangements with MCA. In 2004, the band remedied the situation by creating the Okayplayer company. Named after their website, Okayplayer included a record label and a production/promotion company. The same year, the band held a series of jam sessions to give their next album a looser feel. The results were edited down to ten tracks and released as The Tipping Point in July of 2004. A 2004 concert from Manhattan’s Webster Hall with special guests like Mobb Deep, Young Gunz, and Jean Grae was released in early 2005 as The Roots Present in both CD and DVD formats. Two volumes of the rarities-collecting Home Grown! The Beginner’s Guide to Understanding the Roots appeared at the end of the year. A deal with Def Jam fostered three riveting, often grim sets: Game Theory (2006), Rising Down (2008), and How I Got Over (2010). Through 2009 and 2010, the Roots expanded their reach as the house band on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. They also recorded a 2010-issued album with John Legend, Wake Up!, which featured covers of socially relevant songs like Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes’ “Wake Up Everybody” and Donny Hathaway’s “Little Ghetto Boy.” – John Bush, AllMusicGuide
With Ear Drum, his first album released on his own Blacksmith Music and his sixth album overall, Kweli has delivered his career-defining work, a polished collection showcasing his advanced lyricism and his penchant for picking music that resonates long after the song ends. “The image of the ear and of the drum are powerful enough by themselves, but when you put them together, it’s an instrument that’s in your body that helps you hear,” he explains. “They’re also two very simple, yet powerful words. I wanted to focus on finding a sound that makes you move, and that’s where the word ‘Ear Drum’ popped in my head.”
Throughout Ear Drum, Kweli delivers powerful music that sparks your intellect and makes your body move. He teams with Reflection Eternal partner Hi-Tek on “More Or Less.” Over pounding drums and a minimalistic groove, Kweli makes brash declarations on how to improve music specifically and American society in general. “A statement like, we need ‘more rap songs that stress purpose/With less misogyny and less curses/Let’s put more depth in our verses,’ I haven’t made bold, blatant statements since that like ‘Manifesto.’ There are fans of mine that really appreciate those statements because there are times when those statements need to be made.”
An equally bold Ear Drum moment comes on “Country Cousins,” which features Kweli trading verses with UGK and Raheem DeVaughn. Over a soulful beat accented by brassy horns, Kweli, Bun B and Pimp C talk about the reality of their experiences growing up in New York and Texas, respectively. “People have the perception of what an East Coast artist sounds like, who he’s supposed to be listening to and what he likes, and what a Down South artist sounds like,” Kweli explains. “There’s preconceived notions and that’s really what the song with Bun and Pimp C is about, the preconceived notions between East Coast artists and Down South artists.”
Throughout Ear Drum, Kweli makes a point to explore new topics, collaborate with a variety of artists and rap over distinctively innovative production. It is part of Kweli’s growth as an artist and as a person. “We need to challenge our audience but we also need to challenge ourselves to know that whatever our new experiences are, we can write about them, be creative and bring that to an audience without them feeling alienated,” he says.
Long-time Talib Kweli followers will say the same thing about him. Since his stellar debut with Mos Def as Black Star, Kweli has been one of rap’s most exceptional and consistent artists. Released in 2000, Reflection Eternal, the RIAA-certified gold album with Hi-Tek, was one of the most acclaimed albums of the year. In 2002, smash single “Get By,” the biting political commentary “The Proud” and the insightful examination of America’s gun culture on “Gun Music” made Quality a landmark recording and Kweli’s second gold album. Subsequent recordings in 2004 (The Beautiful Struggle) and 2005 (Right About Now) solidified his status as one of rap’s most talented and important voices.
Now, after establishing himself as a rap visionary, Kweli along with long-time manager Corey Smyth launched Blacksmith Music. The pair signed an exclusive deal with Warner Bros. to market, promote, and distribute the music of Blacksmith artists. Following Kweli’s release on Blacksmith/WBR there will be a new solo album from Jean Grae, the critically acclaimed South African-born female rapper who is among the most respected female rappers in the history of the genre. Rolling Stone called her “the best kept secret on New York&..39;s indie hip-hop scene,” while XXL, Spin, Village Voice, URB and others have labeled her an artist to watch. Strong Arm Steady, a forthcoming Blacksmith/WBR release, is a super group whose members are platinum rapper and Pimp My Ride host Xzibit, Los Angeles underground star Phil The Agony, lyrical assassin Krondon and San Diego rap pioneer Mitchy Slick. Strong Arm Steady has been one of the few West Coast acts to build a rabid fanbase through mixtapes.
Kweli hopes Blacksmith will create a movement with Jean Grae and Strong Arm Steady, much as his own music has. “With Blacksmith, I want it to be a flag that everyone can wave,” he says. “I want to be packing shows and I want people to feel like they were up on Jean Grae and Strong Arm Steady before anybody else was.”
In the mean time, the lyrically and sonically potent Ear Drum demonstrates that strong, powerful messages can serve as the backbone for music at its best. “The vast majority of my subject matter focuses on black self-love, black self esteem, black self worth,” Kweli says. “That translates to other communities because if you’re a human being, it doesn’t matter what color you’re talking about. You’ve been through some sort of struggle and you can apply it to your own life.”
The Capitol Theatre
149 Westchester Avenue
Port Chester, NY, 10573