Black Thought & Rakim Light Up The Stage With Talib Kweli

Last week, Bob James held a concert residence at New York City’s Blue Note alongside Talib Kweli and a live band for the second consecutive year. An esteemed panel of guests joined the Grammy-winning Jazz keyboardist and famed producer during 2023’s three-night residency. D.M.C. joined on February 7, Slick Rick co-headlined on the next of three evenings, and Rakim appeared with Bob on February 9.

These guests were meaningful, given each artist’s famed sampling of James’ catalog. Run-D.M.C. used “Take Me To The Mardi Gras” for “Peter Piper.” Slick Rick used “Nautilus” for “Children’s Story.” Eric B. & Rakim utilized the same One sample for “Follow The Leader.”

Bob James Discusses “Nautilus” Becoming A Hit By Way Of Hip-Hop

On the final night, YouTube user 7thsenseequinox recorded and posted a video of Rakim, Talib, Bob, and the band grooving to a live rendition of “Guess Who’s Back.” Black Thought of The Roots is a special guest, while Rakim performs his emphatic 1997 solo statement. The DJ Clark Kent-produced track samples Bob James’ 1982 “Shamboozie,” which also offered elements to “My Melody” for The God MC a decade earlier. Rakim remixes a few lyrics in the groove to shout out the Blue Note. He also creates space for the crowd to honor Bob James.

Right before the 4:00 mark, Tariq appears to surprise the crowd. He kicks lyrics that first appeared in his jaw-dropping 2017 Sway In The Morning freestyle with Method Man. The Blue Note also posted clips. As the band creates Mobb Deep’s “The Learning (Burn),” Thought revisits a slept-on “RAGE IS BACK” verse over the same instrumental Thought used for his epic Funkmaster Flex freestyle five years ago. In another clip in the post, Rakim and Talib Kweli perform “Don’t Sweat The Technique” while honoring James on stage.

This 1998 Black Thought & Common Freestyle Is An Incredible Hip-Hop Moment In Time

Earlier in the week, Rakim performed alongside Black Thought at the Grammy Awards. The Hip Hop 50 medley, curated by Questlove, included Run-D.M.C., Ice-T, LL Cool J, The LOX, Too Short, Scarface, Big Boi, Posdnuous, and others.


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This week, Talib Kweli shared a video single for “After These Messages,” the first look from Liberation 2 with Madlib. The project is a sequel to their 2006 mixtape. It is scheduled to release in March on Luminary, the platform where Talib releases podcasts, as well as last year’s Madlib-produced Black Star album, No Fear Of Time. On April 15, Black Thought is partnering with the El Michels Affair for Glorious Game. Last month, the two entities released their first single, “Grateful.”

One Of The Most Sampled Songs In Hip-Hop Now Has A Sequel (Audio)

#BonusBeat: The What’s The Headline podcast names Ambrosia For Heads’ Top Albums Of 2022, including Cheat Codes by Black Thought and Danger Mouse as well as No Fear Of Time by Black Star: