I’ve been to a few hip hop shows in the past. Not nearly as many as punk, indie rock, or electronic shows, but still, a few. Mos Def’s show last night at USC’s Springfest ’11 was like nothing else.
I’m about as knowledgeable about Mos Def as the average guy off of the street; that is, I know “Ms. Fat Booty,” “Sex, Love & Money,” and I’ve seen a movie or two he’s been in. I can’t comment on how many of the songs he played – or flowed through – last night are his, but whatever it he was playing couldn’t have sounded more like the high-brow rap innovator that he is in my mind.
For the first fifteen minutes, I was waiting for a song I recognized to come from the DJ (we’d just finished a set by MURS who covered Rage and The Bangles). But when songs blended together and lasted ten minutes with extended interludes of Mos improvising over muddied beats removed of any mid or treble tones, I just went with it.
An anecdote: During the dead pause between two songs, someone in the crowd was repeatedly yelling, “Ms. Fat Booty.” Mos turned to face the guy and said, “Hey, this ain’t a jukebox show.” That pretty much sums it up.
The word to describe the set: weird. It wasn’t fun, but I loved it. I’m not sure if this is the best comparison, but it was what Portishead would do if for some reason Beth wanted to rap. It was fantastic.