Before Dave Chapelle was selling out the Pageant and sneaking the phrase "I'm Rick James, bitch!" into the office lexicon (um, the lexicon of this office, at least), he was laying down an intro track for his pal Talib Kweli. In the rumbling voice of a revival preacher, Chapelle thunders: "Please welcome good friend, scholar, ghetto philosopher, the man who made Kool-Aid say, 'Oh, yeah!': Brooklyn's own...Talib Kweli!"
This, the first track of Kweli's Quality (2002), makes the listener smile -- but not just because of comedian Chapelle's spot-on imitation of a Southern minister's exuberance. The grandiose introduction is funny simply because it is so unlike Kweli himself. The NYC native's rhymes are brilliant, socially conscious and often political, but he never, ever becomes preachy or smug. Kweli began his hip-hop odyssey in high school when he and close friend Dante Smith (known to you and the music industry as Mos Def) entered neighborhood rap battles. The two combined talents for 1998's sublime Mos Def and Talib Kweli Are Black Star and continue to appear on one another's solo projects.
But at the Mississippi Nights show this Sunday, Kweli will not be performing with his old buddy Mos Def. Instead he'll share the evening with MF Doom, an inimitable MC who's patterned his persona after comic-book supervillain Dr. Doom. Born Daniel Dumile and sometimes appearing as his less-evil alter ego, Viktor Vaughan, Doom is as enigmatic as Kweli is honest. He wears an eerie silver mask -- the MF stands for Metal Face (and perhaps something ruder) -- but his act is a far cry from some cartoonish shtick. Doom is as socially aware as they come, and he's a hell of a lot of fun too. Expect his beats to raise your heart rate; his wicked-wonderful words, the hair on your arms.
Simply put: Do not miss the rare alignment of these two stars. The place will rock; the floor will shake. Your worldview just might shift a little. Oh, yeah!