Hip-hop fans are surely excited to see the Macklemore & Ryan Lewis concert Saturday night at downtown Miami’s AmericanAirlines Arena. The Seattle rapper and his producer will put on a great show in support of their debut album, “The Heist,” which gave us the chart-topping hits “Can’t Hold Us” and “Thrift Shop.”
But don’t be fashionably late, because Brooklyn rap legend Talib Kweli, who got his start in the late ‘90s alongside Mos Def in Black Star, will open the night with a short but powerful show in support of his latest albums, “Gravitas” and “Prisoner of Conscious.”
And stick around after Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’ encore, as Kweli will spin a dance-heavy, two-hour set as a celebrity DJ at the afterparty at Hyde AAA, the exclusive, private club inside the AmericanAirlines Arena.
Kweli talked to Miami.com about the evening.
What can we expect from your set, and about how long will you play?
You can expect raw, unfiltered hip-hop energy for a half an hour. My job is to get the crowd pumped for Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, so that’s what I intend to do.
Will we hear much from “Gravitas” and “Prisoner of Conscious”?
“Gravitas” is still too new, but yes, I will be doing songs from “Prisoner of Conscious.”
Later, you’re DJing for the afterparty – what kind of music will you spin?
When I DJ, I try to find a balance between what I like personally and what the crowd wants to hear that night. I can go in any direction. Miami likes to dance, so I will play a lot of dance music, but hopefully the crowd will follow me on a journey rather than me having to pander to them.
How did you get into DJing, and is it a rare thing for you to do?
I know music, so it's natural for me to play it. I started DJing "professionally" about 4 5 years ago. But I'm really more of a celebrity DJ. There are DJs who do it every week, every day - that's the real DJing.
Do you use vinyl and a turntable, or is it all digital?
I use Serato. Serato has made it easier for the casual DJ to do it more seriously, but a real DJ will tell you that if you don’t have the skills first, Serato won’t help.
What do you think of Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’ sound? Are you good friends with them?
I am indeed friends with and fans of Macklemore & Ryan Lewis. They have changed the industry forever, and their story is inspirational to any independent artist. They made an independent, conscious hip-hop album and it became one of the most popular albums in the world, and they are using their newfound success to expose the world to artists they like, like me and Big KRIT. Salute those men.
You’ve produced a lot of music in a relatively short time. Are you driven to create on a daily basis?
I love to create - it is my reason for living.
You have a lot to be proud of as a musician, but what are you most proud of as a man?
As a gifted lyricist and rapper, it seems as if your given name, roughly translated to “truth seeker,” turned out to be pretty accurate. Did your name have any influence early in your life on your career choice?
You are correct about my name – that’s the meaning, and certainly, powerful names have an effect on children. That’s why I also gave my kids African names. I can't be called the “truth seeker” and be on crack!
How often do you visit Miami, and what do you think of the city?
I'm in Miami all the time, thanks to my homie, Max Pierre, who always brings me down. Who doesn't love Miami?