Talib Kweli w/DJ Wick-It, Openmic, Dee Goodz & Stix Izza at The Cannery Ballroom, 5/5/11


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If we had to nail down one unifying quality about all the recent hip-hop shows we've seen here our fair city, we'd have to go with "good vibes." Like, seriously, seriously good vibes, and Thursday night's Talib Kweli show at Cannery was no different. There's something in the air — or maybe the water? — that's bringing out these really diverse, fun, excited crowds that make going out an absolute pleasure. The fact that the music is off the chain doesn't really hurt, either.

We thought we'd missed opener Stix Izza — due to parking being an absolute clusterfuck — but the show gods must have been smiling on us, as we walked in the door at the exact same moment Stix hit the stage. Stix, whose new album Highway 2 Mars drops next week, was joined buy local producer/performer/all-around good dude Rio, plus Mashville turntablist DJ Orig, for a set that rumbled our innards and rocked bodies. Stix has some big, huge beats that are perfect for a big room, and he's got the charisma to hold people's attention on the big stage. Good stuff, and we can't wait for more.

Dee Goodz handled the equipment-swapping downtime as host, making us think he may very well be the Dean Martin of this new-school Rat Pack. Up next was Openmic, whose brand-new tape For the Rebels has been blowing up our speakers all week. It took a second for the crowd to warm up to Mic — not a surprise, considering the dude drops heavy topics the way Snoop Dogg drops, uh, hot things — but once he got them into it, they were all-the-way live. The funny thing about it, though, was that the crowd responded way more to his a cappella, beat-free rhymes than just about anything else — proof that the dude is a true poet. And you could tell that he was having the time of his life, which is always nice to see.

We've seen Wick-It a billion-and-a-half times and love everything he does, but we will always prefer him in hip-hop mode over anything else. You might think he's a dubstep DJ or a mash-up DJ, but we know that deep down in his heart of hearts, he's a hip-hop DJ, and that's when he does his best work — even in the midst of some crazy technical issues, of which there were plenty. Not that it really derailed the party or dampened the jubilant vibe in the room. Hell, even Jean Grae bailing on the show at the last minute couldn't bring the vibe down. Sure, we were a little bummed, but whatchu gonna do, eh?

So amid all the lovey-dovey, we-are-all-in-this-together feelings floating around, there was one thing that made The Spin feel like outcasts: We definitely don't have the memorization skills that you cats apparently do. It seemed like — besides the fix-my-monitor-mix freestyle — every single person in the room knew every single word that was to come out of Talib Kweli's mouth. We've seen some into-it crowds in our days, but damn, this crowd got it down. The facts that Kweli's band was phe-fuckin'-nominal and the dude's albums are all certifiable classics probably didn't hurt, but again, damn — it was nice to be out and about with so many enthusiastic and excited people. Good vibes, Nashville. Good vibes.


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