Point of View

Hip Hop Makes its Debut with MOS DEF
August 19, 2009, 7:13 pm
Filed under: At the Center

On Saturday, August 15, the Adrienne Arsht Center ushered in a new kind of crowd as it hosted its first ever hip-hop performance with Mos Def. The mellow, yet infectious artist drew a young and eclectic audience. The performance was infused with hip-hop culture and an unexpected minimalist presentation, maintaining the integrity of the genre – no thrills, no flash, just intelligent lyrics and creative beats that kept the audience on its feet.


Opening was New Orleans rapper Jay Electronica, an abstract musician with a sense of humor. When he wasn’t rapping in his quirky, unconventional style, the artist bantered with the crowd and put on his own version of The Price Is Right theme song.

When Mos Def appeared on stage, with no introduction or hype as he sneaked up behind the orchestral drum set donning plain clothes and a cap, fans hit the ceiling.  From that point on, Mos and his DJs, Preservation and Gold Medal Man, conducted the night: mixing the new and the familiar. Beginning with long, slowly paced songs, the crowd built up their excitement as they awaited the artist’s biggest hits like No Hay Nada Mas, Ms. Fat Booty and Umi Says. In between, Mos Def paid homage to the late Michael Jackson as he did his best moonwalk while crooning a slowed-down version of Billie Jean, at which point the audience went wild.

The concert stirred up a whole new energy in the Knight Concert Hall. 70% of the show’s ticket purchases were made by first time buyers to the center. The programming director for this show, Aaron Zimmerman, couldn’t have been happier with the night’s turnout. “Seeing a hip-hop artist on the concert hall stage for the first time in the center’s history was a beautiful thing,” he smiles. Zimmerman has similar artists in mind for upcoming shows, shows that will continue to earn the Adrienne Arsht Center its “street cred” and keep up the spirit that follows.


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