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Talib Kweli

Thursday, June 27 @ Harley-Davidson Roadhouse, 10 p.m.

Jun. 10, 2013
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If it seems like Talib Kweli plays the Summerfest grounds every year, that’s because he does, more or less. The Brooklyn rapper is high on the festival’s short list of favored hip-hop acts, right up there with other college-friendly draws like Lupe Fiasco, The Roots and Common. For Kweli, that’s a point of honor. He prides himself on his live shows, performing as many as 200 a year. “The artist who is not doing shows right now is floundering,” Kweli explained to the Shepherd in 2007. “You need to be able to develop a live act and a stage show to cement your fanbase. The idea that you can just put out a record and have it be a hit on the radio works if you’re just trying to sell ringtones or get a certain number of downloads, but it doesn’t really sustain your career.”

While there’s still no word as to when or whether Kweli will release another album with Mos Def as Black Star—the group that made both rappers instant underground heroes in the late ’90s— this spring he released a new solo album, Prisoner of Conscious, which pushes back (albeit not very firmly) against the idea that he’s first and foremost an alternative rapper. (Evan Rytlewski)



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