Colors: A Special Birthday Appearance by Talib Kweli
October 2, 2008
Notes and Photos by Jackie Lopez
Former Black Star member Talib Kweli blesses the Bay Area with his presence every two months or so. San Francisco must have done something right to have this hip-hop guru (who 50 Cent and Jay Z call their favorite rapper of all time) choose the city to celebrate his birthday.
After a sitdown interview with Big Vaughn on 106 KMEL Thursday night, Kweli headed over for a performance with David Banner and Little Brother at the Grand Ballroom at the Regency Center. After that, he opted for a more intimate venue and appeared, as promised, at Levende Lounge's "Colors" party. DJ Sake One and Fran Boogie got the party started, and soon the club was brimming over with SF's hip-hop socialites -- the guys shaking their baggy jeans off their hips and the ladies in every permutation of the little black dress.
Around 10:30, Sake threw on “Caramel” by City High, and the ladies took to the dance floor, wine glasses and sweet cocktails in hand. He snuck up with TLC’s “Creep,” disguising the song with an unconventional beat. “Candy Rain” by Soul 4 Real brought everyone “way back” as Fran Boogie said on the mic, back to the high school days. Then Sake played with the masses, throwing out some Outkast, John Legend and Raphael Saadiq before turning up a crowd favorite, “Real Love” by Mary J Blige.
Come 11:30, Sake switched to reggae music and directed the crowd to move their hips to the sound. Then, without warning, I heard a familiar voice get on the mic and shout, “Have you ever seen a Chevy with the butterfly doors?”
David Banner was all of a sudden on stage, without giving anyone a single notice he was going to appear. I mean, the promotions had said special guests, but usually that just means another so-called VIP sitting in an area where there's bottle service. David Banner tore it up singing his "Get Like Me" hit and going so far as to MC in the middle of the compact dance floor. What a people pleaser, huh? With the crowd hyped up from Banner, the party was all ready for Talib to show.
I went outside for some air just as a limo pulled up. I spun around and lo and behold, Talib Kweli and his entourage were right behind me. I wished him a happy birthday as he passed, and he nodded in my direction before being bombarded by fans yelping for a picture of autograph.
And celebrate he did, with bottle service in one of Levende's reserved corner booths. Though he only performed one song, I think it was gracious enough of him. It’s not every night in San Francisco where Talib goes out to celebrate his birthday. Sake threw on Stevie Wonder’s “Happy Birthday” version from his 1980 album "Hotter Than July" as we celebrated Talib’s and the existence of his great music lyrical mind.
Personal Bias: The Beautiful Struggle album has stayed on my top favorites list since it came out in 2004.
Random Detail: Why do girls swear more when they’re intoxicated? Last night, I must have heard so many angry drunk girls that didn’t even know why they were mad and screaming. Blows my mind.
By the Way: In 2000, Mos Def and Talib purchased Brooklyn’s oldest black owned bookstore, Nkiru and renamed it Nkiru Center for Education and Culture.