Live (Very, Very Late) Last Night: Mos Def

There are very few hip-hop shows that would be well worth a two-and-a-half hour wait: maybe a reunion of the surviving members of N.W.A. or a posthumous Tupac/Biggie double-bill. But standing around for that long to see Mos Def, which is what fans of the rapper did at the 9:30 club on Monday night, seems beyond excessive.

(Read the rest of the review after the jump.)

The Brooklyn MC was scheduled to take the stage at 7 p.m. for the first of two shows, but didn't hit the stage until 9:30 p.m., leaving the people inside the venue to cool their heels and those lined up outside for the second show to freeze.

"I'm not on schedule, but I'm on time!" Mos said when he finally arrived and jumped on stage, boarding pass still in hand. "It's not my fault--it was Continental Airlines! I'm literally fresh out of Washington Reagan Airport on the stage for y'all!"

Mos Def spent too much time apologizing during his 75 minute set, but was fantastic when he stopped saying "sorry" and started spitting lyrics. He gave a dexterous version of "Brooklyn Go Hard" that blew Jay-Z's out of the water, along with old favorites such as "Hip Hop" and "Ms. Fat Booty" from 1999's "Black on Both Sides," and "Definition" and "Respiration" from his 1998 Black Star project with Talib Kweli.

But when looking back on the night of the near-three-hour concert delay, attendees will likely remember the preview of Mos Def's upcoming album "The Ecstatic," as the show's peak. The new music was light on the singing (phew!), and thick with some of the best rhymes Mos has delivered in years. Although the Oh No-produced title track was just fine, the Mad Lib-helmed "Casa Forte," which starts off as a hard-charging MC showcase and cools down to a '70s soul-jazz boogie, came closest to making up for Mos Def's late arrival.

-- SARAH GODFREY

By J. Freedom du Lac |  February 24, 2009; 12:29 PM ET Live Last Night
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