The place to be for any hip-hop head in LA this weekend was the Lyricist Lounge’s 20th Anniversary/Reunion party featuring Black Star (duo Mos Def who now goes by Yasiin Bey, and Talib Kweli) at Club Nokia. Founded by Danny Castro and Anthony Marshall in New York City, they’ve created coast to coast showcases featuring rappers and DJs, stock full of guest appearances. Arriving a little before 9 PM, I took my seat in the front row of the balcony and was ready to rock.
Kicking the night off, DJ Orator played classic hip-hop hits which made me dance immediately. Over the next two hours, we’d hear from rapper Medusa, trio Pac Div, Bay Area legend Del The Funky Homosapien and the Freestyle Fellowship repping the Project Blowed collective, having roots stemming from the Good Life Cafe which is credited with starting the LA underground hip-hop movement in the 90’s. As if all those acts weren’t good enough, in between these acts, DJ Z-Trip came out to introduce DJ Nu-Mark who deftly used children’s toys including a mouse with a karate outfit that sang “Kung Fu Fighting” and a clapping monkey to produce a few songs on the spot. Had never seen anything like that and vowed to check out more of his stuff on his site, unclenu.com.
Around 11:30 PM, indie R&B artist Goapele sang briefly before introducing Black Star, supported by Jay Rock, and they were greeted with hype applause. It’s been a minute since I’ve seen Black Star live so was psyched to see them again. As you know, they’re accomplished and great MCs solo, but each time they get together, it’s like a supernova. Their yin-yang energies and flows balance each other out like very few duos can. Periodically freestyling and doing tracks off their classic album “Mos Def and Talib Kweli are Black Star” like “Definition”, “Respiration”, “K.O.S (Determination)” and my personal fav “Brown Skin Lady”, they had the crowd including myself on its feet for the whole 90 minute set. Touching on their solo work, they also performed solo favs like “Umi Says” and “Get By”. Ending the night around 1 AM, this Lyricist Lounge anniversary showcase was the “definition” of a dope hip-hop party.