Rapper at a loss for words

Allan Madrid

Amidst head-bumping beats, earsplitting cheers and swaying firelights, rapper Talib Kweli told more than 1,400 students to put their hands in the air and show him some love Saturday night during a sold-out concert in Patten Gym.

Kweli was the headlining artist of an A&O Productions-sponsored concert that also featured an opening act by instrumental hip-hop artist RJD2.

“The concert went by really smoothly,” said Doug Singer, the A&O director of concerts and a Weinberg junior. “(The audience) seemed really into it and I was surprised by the enthusiasm they showed.”

Using four DJ turntables, RJD2 kicked off the concert by demonstrating his spinning skills while a large screen behind him showed footage of seemingly arbitrary events, such as children playing in mud and a man dancing with crutches.

After RJD2’s hour-long performance and a brief intermission, Kweli jumped on stage and began his performance yelling, “This is Talib Kweli. Northwestern, can you hear me?” Students in the audience immediately put their hands in the air and cheered on the rapper.

But as the brick walls of Patten Gym almost shook with the deafening sounds of hefty beats and sophisticated rap lyrics, Kweli surprised everyone when he stopped rapping to his old-school song “Good to You” and announced that he had forgotten his lyrics.

“That shit happens, but fuck it,” a nonchalant Kweli told his startled audience.

Kweli went on with the show singing songs like “Get By” and a rap rendition of The Beatles’ “Eleanor Rigby,” although he forgot the lyrics of about five other songs.

“(Kweli) was just having fun with the crowd,” said A&O President Brian Bockrath, a McCormick senior. “It was just another way of interacting with the audience.”

Students had mixed reactions to the concert. Although some said they enjoyed listening and dancing to RJD2’s and Kweli’s rhythmic beats, others were displeased and said the performance was unprofessional.

“It was a good show and it was funny (that Kweli forgot his lyrics),” said Weinberg freshman Jamie Hanson. “He had a good crowd participation and his personality came out pretty nicely.”

But for McCormick sophomore Ross Bergman, Kweli’s performance was disappointing.

“(Kweli) did not sound like the rapper I thought he was and I was pretty pissed off that he forgot like five songs” he said. “He didn’t seem really with it — but I’m glad the concert only cost five bucks.”

The concert originally had a space capacity of 1,200 people, but A&O sold about 200 more tickets at the door after a fire marshall declared that Patten Gym safely could hold 200 more people.

“We didn’t find out until (Friday) that the capacity was going to be bigger,” Bockrath said. “But it’s always fun to have a large show in Patten and we think that the crowd had a great time.”

Reach Allan Madrid at [email protected].