Concert review: The mighty Yassin Bey at Ska Fest 2013

Yassin Bey (aka Mos Def) delivers and doesn't disappoint at Ska Fest 2013

Yassin Bey at Ska Fest 2013

 

 

“I’m in a good mood. A rare mood. That’s not to say it’s rare for me to be in a good mood. I’m half in a good mood and half in a rare mood.”

So spoke Yasiin Bey, better known as Mos Def, as he closed the Victoria SkaFest Saturday night with a relaxed, loosely structured set amid the glowing dusk of the Inner Harbour.

After nearly an entire day of travelling from Africa, an exhausted-looking Bey arrived for his headlining spot at Victoria’s SkaFest looking like an Muslim hip-hop featherweight reluctantly ready for a prize fight.

Donned in a hooded white robe, with a leather jacket, African-styled scarf, red kicks and a ball cap tucked under the hood, Bey took to the stage looking ready to get it over with, but nonetheless pulled out an energetic, enjoyable show.

Rarely a player in mainstream hip-hop, the artist formerly known as Mos Def has often been more of an enigma, forging his own way to creative challenges. Black Star, Bey’s collaboration with Talib Kweli (who is coming to Victoria Aug. 2), only ever put out one album despite their popularity, although another is rumoured.

He followed up his deliciously approachable solo debut, the essential Black on Both Sides, with the more dissonant, live-music backed The New Danger in 2004. Since then only two more albums have arisen, one bland (True Magic) and one a partial return to form (The Ecstatic).

Add to that his recent deeper immersion into his long-held Islamic faith and a public name change, and, well, Bey certainly walks to the beat of his own turntable.

One sensed this at the show, with only a few Bey’s tunes, such as Hip-Hop and Umi Says, stirring up the enthusiasm of a crowd hearing an old favourite. The rest of the night saw Bey dancing, hype man-ing and ripping through rhymes new and old, layered with oblique gems on the nature of life, love, God and hip-hop.

But it has to be said, the man has charm. What he occasionally lacks in cohesion or accessibility he makes up for in integrity, commitment and that trademark smile. When Bey is having fun, everyone is having fun. And the moments were Bey turned down the pious reflection and turned up the ole hip-hop energy were instantly infectious.

Although given the choice, sure, I would have loved a set loaded with Black on Both Sides tracks, but even when Bey is bringing out the new stuff, or the impenetrable, his trademark smile and stage presence gets everybody on board. I might not buy an album of the material we heard on Saturday, but I’m glad I was there to witness it.

kwells@goldstreamgazette.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just Posted

Revisit Christmas past as Point Ellice House displays Victorian-era traditions

Antique bobbles, cards, decor and more are on display

Bold and brassy quintet touches down at UVic

Internationally recognized Canadian Brass performing with Victoria Symphony on Dec. 21

Saanich church kicks off holidays with peaceful Winter Solstice service

St. Luke’s song-filled Christmas services come later

West Shore Parks and Rec staff member injury raises concerns about cut-through traffic

WSPR says staff member ‘seriously injured’ while monitoring scheduled closure

VIDEO: Success of wildlife corridors in Banff National Park has advocates wanting more

Demand for more highway protection escalated after seven elk were killed by a semi-trailer near Canmore

Fans sing Canadian anthem after sound system breaks at BMW IBSF World Cup

The Canadians in attendance made sure their team and flag were honoured on the podium

VIDEO: Fire destroys Big White Ski Resort chalet

Social media eulogies peg the property, nicknamed “The Pharamacy,” as both loved and hated

Prince George RCMP use bait packages to catch porch pirates over the holidays

First-in-Canada program with Amazon looks to combat parcel theft

Nanaimo mechanical engineer creates thief tracking program

Nanaimo Thief Tracking lets users plot and share information about thefts online

Mayor wants B.C. to institutionalize severely mental ill people who are homeless

Those suffering from mental health conditions, such as schizophrenia, need specialized care, mayor says

Five things of note from Trudeau’s mandate letters to his ministers

Some marching orders come from the Liberal Party’s campaign, while others are new additions

Scheer’s resignation tips party into internal war over school tuition payments

The Conservatives have a Toronto convention already scheduled for April

Navigating ‘fever phobia’: B.C. doctor gives tips on when a sick kid should get to the ER

Any temperature above 38 C is considered a fever, but not all cases warrant a trip to the hospital

Most Read