Talib Kweli part of the conscious Hip Hop movement

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Talib Kweli

Talib Kweli with Marvin and the Experience, Fire Angel, Ole Femi, Watusi Tribe, Dante and Tocka

Friday · Madison Theatre

Brooklyn, N.Y.-bred lyricist Talib Kweli could have easily adopted the moniker T-Killah (or an equally outlandish alias), but it simply wouldn't fit for someone whose name is fast becoming synonymous with the slowly re-emerging "conscious" Hip Hop movement. Kweli (whose name is Arabic and West African for "seeker of truth") has consistently carried the intelligent Hip Hop torch since appearing on 1998's Lyricist Lounge compilation where, on the heated "The Manifesto," he outlines a Panther-esque, 10-point action plan for the preservation of Hip Hop culture. Perhaps most known for his on-again, off-again collaborative relationship with the equally book-smart Mos Def (in 1998 they released the self-titled Black Star album), Kweli's Reflection Eternal catapulted the underground dweller to the forefront of the sparsely populated positive Hip Hop camp. With flawless production by Cincinnati's beat guru Hi-Tek, highlights included the head-nodder "Move Something" and "African Dream," a thinly veiled indictment of emcees who "drink champagne to toast death and pain, like slaves on a ship talkin' about who got the flyest chain." While Kweli's follow-up, 2002's Quality, is widely considered more mainstream and less cohesive due to the varied production styles offered DJ Quick, Hip Hop boy-wonder du jour Kanye West and the Soulquarians (to name a few). But Kweli shines on tracks like "The Proud," where he dons his cultural critic hat and reminds us that, "Today the paper say Timothy McVeigh's in hell/So everything's okay and all must be well." Kweli is currently preparing for the much-anticipated (and already pirated) release of Beautiful Struggle, due this spring. It's difficult to summarize Talib Kweli's career without mentioning that in 1998 he and Black Star partner Mos Def purchased Brooklyn's Nkiru Bookstore and rescued it from permanently closing. Evidently, there are at least a few positive MCs who, in addition to talking the talk, actually walk the walk.

Kweli's Cincinnati visit this Friday also includes in-store meet-and-greets at Everybody's Records (5 p.m.) and the Hard Ta Knock Shoppe (6 p.m.), and an after-party at Radio Down in Covington. (Kevin Britton)

VH1 Classics 70's Soul Jam with The Stylistics, The Delfonics, Blood Stone and more

Friday · Aronoff Center

When I was a teenager (just after the invention of the automobile and them newfangled picture machines), downloading a song meant dropping a 45 down the spindle onto the turntable.

A 45. Little plastic disc with a big hole in the middle. One song on each side. A single ... anyway, some of the best 45s in the racks came courtesy of the Pop/Soul greats of the day, embodied by everything coming out of Detroit on Motown Records. Motown's appeal was undeniable, but Chicago and Philadelphia were hot on Berry Gordy's heels, represented by incomparable Pop crooners like the Chi-Lites, the Delfonics and the Stylistics. I stockpiled singles by all of them ("Have You Seen Her" and "Oh Girl" from Chicago's Chi-Lites; gorgeous Philly Soul on "La La Means I Love You" and "Didn't I Blow Your Mind This Time" from the Delfonics and "You Are Everything," "I'm Stone In Love With You" and "Betcha By Golly Wow" from the Stylistics) because I loved the melodies and harmonies and arrangements. It wasn't until I had and lost a girlfriend that I began to understand the ecstatic joy of those love songs and the sweet melancholy of the break-up odes. Suddenly they became much more than just pretty songs; they were the soundtrack to my sad little love life. It might not have been much of a love life, but what a glorious soundtrack it had for back-up. A similarly aged friend of mine recently got himself an i-Pod, and I noticed a lot of these songs on his track list. "Can't beat the classics," he said with a smile. I listened to the Chi-Lites in the digital age, and they were the epitome of timeless. The only thing missing was the sound of the record changer loading another side of Soul onto the platter. That and Bonnie. Oh, girl, pain will double if you leave me now. And, for a little while in the dark days of 1974, it did. (Brian Baker)

Drowning Pool with Hatebreed, Damageplan and Unearth

Tuesday · Bogart's

"Don't bullshit the audience, because they're smarter than you think. I try to treat them with respect, because they know if you're faking it. I just let them know, 'Look, I'm just some jackass from Texas that got lucky. I want you to enjoy this with me.' " That was Drowning Pool's Dave Williams in the summer of 2001, just as the band's star was beginning to ascend with the moshing success of the song "Bodies" from their debut album Sinner, resulting in an invitation to join that year's Ozzfest. The following August, the band's lucky streak ended when an undetected heart defect tragically silenced Dave Williams while he slept on the band's tour bus following the band's Indianapolis appearance during the 2002 Ozzfest. Williams' death could easily have spelled the end of Drowning Pool; part of the band's luck had been finding Williams in Dallas and bringing him into the fold as the electrifying frontman and creative sparkplug they had been searching for. Although the band was momentarily derailed, the surviving members of the Pool ultimately made the decision to carry on and eventually began auditioning new singers to see if the lightning of inspiration could somehow strike them twice in one career. This year will tell the tale; in January, the band announced that they had chosen Southern California vocalist Jason "Gong" Jones as their new frontman and April will see the release of Drowning Pool's second album, Desensitized (a song from which will be featured on the soundtrack for the film The Punisher). If any band can overcome the adversity of losing one of the most charismatic presences in Metal, Drowning Pool certainly stands a good chance of being the one. (BB)