Friday night on the Richter Green, Talib Kweli stunned a crowd of several hundred with his innovative rhymes, mind-blowing freestyles and flawless execution of old school. (Only Kweli could hip-hopify “Sweet Dreams” by Eurythmics.)
Shortly after midnight, the crowd was stunned again, but instead of feelings of exuberance and satisfaction, students felt emotions of confusion and outrage.
Without warning, Kweli’s speakers and microphone went out, leaving the crowd to believe that a technical difficulty may have occurred. After Kweli said a few words that couldn’t be heard over the sound of the idiotic chanting “bros” in the vicinity, he then knocked over his microphone stand, emptied water bottles on the stage and into the crowd and stormed off the platform.
At first, some saw this as a temper tantrum and thought Kweli may have overreacted. However, Kweli’s tirade was justified after it was later learned that city police ended the concert for violating a Coral Gables noise ordinance that restricts loud music after midnight. When did a hip-hop concert on a college campus turn into an eighth-grade dance? I can understand the police ending a house party consisting of rowdy frat boys and drunk, hot girls raving to Britney Spears’ “Gimme More.” But for the fuzz to end a feel-good concert performed by one of the last remaining masters of true hip-hop is a slap in the face to good music.
What is the problem here? Kweli had maybe just 30 minutes left in his set, so it wouldn’t have been too much of an inconvenience to the grumpy, senile community of Coral Gables to let him finish his performance (let alone his song). The university should have been better prepared for the possibility that the performance may go into overtime. It seems that this minor issue could have been handled better or even temporarily ignored, instead of letting it get blown out of proportion.
A catastrophe like this also makes me more convinced that good hip-hop is slowly being murdered, but not just by bad artists. I don’t know for sure if any of the Coral Gables locals actually were annoyed by the “loud noise,” but if they just listened to his lyrics, they would realize that Kweli doesn’t rap about money, guns and hos like his mainstream counterparts. His politically-conscious rhymes discuss relevant issues in society, while causing listeners to do something not typically done in hip-hop: think.
Sadly, I don’t expect Talib Kweli to make another appearance at UM anytime soon. Despite receiving an overwhelmingly positive reception and gaining a few fans in the process, the City of Coral Gables and a petty noise ordinance have “disrespected” Talib. You wouldn’t think that a person with something intelligent to say would get silenced very often, but that’s what happened Friday night on the Richter Green. Let’s just hope this doesn’t start a trend for the future and that good music is heard through eardrums worldwide, no matter how loud.
Felipe Yanez is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism and political science. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.