Mos Def and Jay Electronica
House of Blues
August 18, 2009
Better than: Beating the line to the show's after party.
Some artists perform for the audience. Others perform for themselves. And others? They're still finding their footing as performers at all.
Make no mistake: Last night's show at the House of Blues wasn't flaccid for a lack of effort on the performers' part. It's just that, when you couple Jay Electronica's novice stage presence with Mos Def's selfish foray into a full-on reggae soundbwoy killin', not even cameos by Erykah Badu can save the scene.
Jay opened the show, showing love to Dallas for taking in Hurricane Katrina evacuees from his native New Orleans. He was informal--kind of like we happened into his living room. He had to request a drink a few times, and it seemed like he wasn't going to go into his set completely until he had one.
Once he actually got going, Jay established himself to those unfamiliar to his rhymes (present party included) as a witty and dexterous lyricist. It's a shame that his constant time-outs to chit-chat broke the momentum of his performance. The highlight of his set, of course, came when Badu sauntered onto the stage to join her baby's daddy for "Victory is Mine."
When it was Mos Def's turn to rock, he took the stage behind a bright yellow set of drums. Beating away furiously, he crooned bars of "The Boogeyman Song." He then pounded out an intense, tribal beat before taking off his hat and letting his rhymefest begin.
Songs from The Ecstatic dominated his set, and the release being a mere two months old didn't hamper enthusiasm for his performance. Of course, his biggest crowd responses came when during tracks from The New Danger, particularly "Sex, Love & Money" and "Close Edge."
With about 30 minutes left to perform, Mos Def then launched into a pulsating, wailing, soundclash that, well, lasted way too long. He was still on stage with 10 minutes to go when the auditorium began bleeding attendees. Maybe it was part of his set list--or maybe it just him throwing a bone to the people who stayed--but he closed the show "Brown Sugar (Fine)" with, you guessed it, Erykah singing the hook.
Personal Bias: This was my first Jay Electronica show. I wanted more rapping, less talking.
Random Note: Jay recognized a dude named Purple in the audience that he went to school with.
By The Way: I haven't seen many folks rap and play the drums at the same time. Pretty impressive, Mos.