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Beyond Black Star

Talib Kweli
Talib Kweli

Partially propelled by the hot success of the single “Same Love,” Macklemore and Ryan Lewis are touring the world — supported by legendary Brooklyn rapper Talib Kweli, which is puzzling considering Kweli is one of the pioneers of socially conscious hip hop, without which “Same Love” (a song condemning homophobia in all strata of society — particularly hip hop) might never have found mainstream acceptance.

Still, it’s a good thing Macklemore and Lewis give props to the massively influential Kweli — a near 20-year veteran of the rap game, known for work with Mos Def in the group Black Star and collaborations with Kanye West and Madlib. On an off day from the Macklemore tour, Kweli is treating Eugene audiences to a sneak preview of his upcoming release Gravitas — out digitally Dec. 15 on his own label, Javotti Media

“My music has been associated with positivity, spirituality, intelligence and being thought-provoking and such,” Kweli says via press release. But his latest single, the soulful “Come Here” featuring R&B singer Miguel, shows the typically social-minded Kweli in the mood for love. “I don’t know how to describe you, you’re beautiful,” Kweli raps over the smooth, Marvin Gaye-inspired song. 

“I think sometimes people get caught up in [the social activism] part of me as an artist and don’t necessarily understand the musicality or fully appreciate the music and the entertainment value behind what I do,” Kweli adds. “I try to stretch my wings a little bit and bring something that’s less beholden to the world of hip hop and more existing in the world in general.”

Talib Kweli plays 9 pm Monday, Dec. 9, at WOW Hall; $18 adv., $20 door.