As a young lad just entering high school, I was less Kid Pretentious and more Kid Retard Hippie. Sure, I knew about The Beta Band and a few other indie bands, but my big thing at the time was still jam bands, which kind of extended to "new jazz" bands like Medeski, Martin & Wood. Another band in the latter category was Soulive, probably the best of the bunch, when that still seemed to show reverence to the jazzmen of old. They were also quick to embrace hip-hop, enlisting Black Thought of The Roots and Talib Kweli to appear on Next, which was released in early 2002 (or, the beginning of the end of my jam band phase). Overall, I still think it's a decent record - it probably contains the only tolerable song by Dave Matthews (covering Ani DiFranco no less!). But the hip-hop tracks really stood out to me - one of my first exposures to indie hip-hop, or things outside the norm that I heard on the radio.
Sure, most blogging nerds were listening to Quality at the same time I heard Next, but it was an important record for me. Kweli's "Bridge to 'Bama" was remixed by Hi-Tek, one of the collaborations that happened right around when they split. It's probably not the best Kweli song, but it served as a good introduction to somebody who would become one of my favorite rappers, and one that made me more aware of socially conscious hip-hop at a time when my liberalism was just sprouting. So, thank you Soulive, and thank you Talib Kweli for being at the right place at the right time.
This Friday, Kweli is playing a show at the Museum of Natural History curated by Flavorpill (where, yes, I intern). It will be a good opportunity to make up for missing his free show at Pratt as a Freshman. If you see an awkward dude harassing people with a clip board outside, come say hi! See you in the pit.
Talib Kweli - Shock Body