Reflection Eternal to appear at First Ave Saturday

Categories: Concert Preview
As far as hip hop goes, radio still pushes the club bangers and anything that mentions Bentleys, and the indie scene has had so much coke-rap dropped in its lap that, by now, it should have had a massive heart attack five times over. But if the cold viciousness of the drug grind isn't your favorite subject, you might be tiring of the glut of ice-encrusted ex-hustlers that favor a badass image over lyrical skill, bravado over brains. Dig a bit deeper and you'll find that socially-aware rap wasn't killed in a hail of gunfire; it's still alive and touring, even if the spotlight lingers elsewhere. Reflection Eternal (a collaboration between Brooklyn MC Talib Kweli and Cincinnati's DJ Hi-Tek) released the Train of Thought album way back in 2000, but it still stands up as a conscious genre classic, a collection of rhymes and beats more concerned with community than cocaine--but was it fun, too?

Hell yes it was fun. In between Talib's vivid character sketches are party tracks like "Move Somethin'" and laidback burners like "The Blast"; these two know they've got to hook you before any kind of message can sink in. If Kweli is the Patron Saint of Backpack Rap, sacrificing a place on the charts for a message he really believes in, his miracle might be that he can turn a serious subject into party-igniting fire. And, other than Mos Def, perhaps no one compliments Kweli's verbose style like DJ Hi-Tek, who constructs beats that serve as a rock-solid foundation for his partner's spirited flow. Even if the rumored second album never materializes, Kweli and Hi-Tek could retire the Reflection Eternal name knowing that they have a masterwork already under their belts. Luckily, it doesn't seem like they're even close to quitting.

No, this tour seems to be an appetizer for a new collection of RE jams, a stab at recreating the thoughtful magic of their first and only album. And, to sweeten the deal, the rest of the bill looks like an all-star lineup of underground rap heroes, including legendary producer Pete Rock, supergroup Slaughterhouse, and a Slum Village performance memorializing J Dilla and Baatin. Do your best to forget about grills, sneakers, and pounds of illicit materials for the time being--it's time to put your hands in the air and wave them around like you really do care.

Rock the Bells presents Reflection Eternal w/ Slaughterhouse, Slum Village, Supernatural, and Pete Rock - Saturday, August 22nd - First Ave Mainroom - $30 - 5 pm - 18+

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