"After 10 years, the wait is just two weeks away," Talib Kweli said at the Black Cat on Monday, referring to the release of "Revolutions Per Minute," the new album from Kweli and producer Hi-Tek, who perform together as Reflection Eternal.
The Brooklyn MC and Cincinnati's beatmaker's first effort, the much salivated-over 2000 LP "Reflection Eternal/Train of Thought," is finally getting a follow-up, due out May 18. The duo marked the occasion with a celebratory show filled with material from the new album, and the old album along with tracks from their solo catalogs.
After an opening set from Florida rapper Laws and special guest Tabi Bonney, Kweli and Hi-Tek hit the stage to perform "Move Somethin' " and "Eternalists" from "Train of Thought." Kweli quickly called for mic adjustments - "Get these mics right, gimme more presence!" - then showed he could rock through technical difficulties with an a capella version of "Revolutions per Minute," from the Reflection Eternal mixtape "The Re:Union."
The oil-themed "Ballad of the Black Gold" and "Midnight Hour" featuring Estelle, which has the singer and Kweli jumping all over a Hi-Tek beat that samples the opening harmonies from The Shirelles' "Mama Said," were among the strongest tracks from "Revolutions Per Minute." Still, old favorites predictably got biggest crowd reactions: "The Blast," from "Train of Thought" drove folks crazy; Kweli's solo track "Get By," from 2002's "Quality," drove them crazier still.
After a dizzying show and lengthy encore there was still time left in the set. What to do? "We're gonna have the afterparty," Hi-Tek announced. He grabbed the mic, Kweli served as DJ, and they brought fans to the stage for an album release party that refused to be stopped, even when the soundman attempted to pull the plug.
--Sarah Godfrey, May 2010