Bilal is one of the most unique and talented performers of the neo-soul generation and he brought his energetic and crowd pleasing show to E.J. Thomas’ Keepers Lounge at The Stage Door in Akron, OH last Saturday. He is known for his incredible range and power on the classic album “1st Born Second,” and his new album “Airtight’s Revenge” brings us even more of what this effortlessly talented individual has to offer as a variety. The highly anticipated album is a provocative genre-bending album that dissects love, politics and relationships. ‘Airtight’s Revenge” demonstrates the Philly-bred singer’s growth as an artist. Bilal hits us with fresh new music in his performance as well as the oldies and goodies, some unreleased.
I was excited to see Bilal, this was my first time seeing him perform and I’ve been a fan of his since 2001. I never thought he’d come to Cleveland though and wondered if his fanbase streched to the midwest considering his different sound of music and Cleveland’s love for mainstream artist’s like Gucci Mane and Yung Jeezy. I was unsure what to expect in the crowd. Me being age 27 I was in high school when ‘1st Born Second’ dropped and being from L.A., that ‘Fastlane’ single with Dr. Dre was well known. The crowd at Akron U. was diverse in age, some looked liked they were there to see Jodeci perform. I saw leather coats, furs, gater shoes, quick weaves, white eye liner on dark chocolate skin, oh and a white leopard cat suite skirt on those who share my love for Bilal. They showed up in their best to be free in the same sense as Bilal’s performance, nothing short of it.
Fastlane by Bilal w/ Dr. Dre and Jadakiss
At the start of the show an accepting crowd applause welcomed Bilal and he welcomed us back, “How yall doin’ tonight? Are you ready?” We all have been anticipating his presence and he acknowledges a few of us that outburst into craziness- jump up, waive and shout out to him. One group yells “Bilal! Yeah we’re ready!”
He replies “Now that’s the kind of shit I’m talkin about. I want what they’re having! Then let’s have a good time then.”
His band roars up and it’s all captivating in every sense of the word from there. He performs new, old, unreleased songs.
I have the new album and just couldn’t wait to sing along with him. Usually when I go to a concert the background singers keep the same tempo as the record, the adlibs are the same so all I have to do is insert my sing-along. Not so with Bilal. His vocal training and talent is so broad with erratic high to low pitches that make the album classic and his performance priceless. These same songs sounded fresh and new form the album all over again. Seemed to stretch my ears and mind to a new place the album could never take me. His stage presence was crazy. He spazzed out periodiacclly, spasms of rhythm hitting him like lightning, harsh percussions with even harsher melodies and vocals from one single individual, multiple genres, many stories, multiple conclusions, a skinny black man with a Mohawk rock look and feel.
Someone said he looked drugged out and different from his “1st Born Second” persona. I say he was free on stage, I secretly wished the crowd would do the same, “Now that’s the kind of shit I’m talkin about. I want what he is having!”
What is so different about Bilal this time around, this is not a drug?
I had a few moments in which I wanted to spazz out with him, screech as loud as I could in an attempt to mimic his creative freedom. Old pimpin’ in the gators sitting in front of me got up to groove as if he were at a Whispers concert but no it was the irate tempo, vocals and deep lyrics from Bilal.
I just can’t get enough of this unique sound that can’t be boxed into a genre, not even Neo-Soul. All that can be said is true talent, true music, and one hell of a show so deserving to be seen.
If you haven’t heard Bilal’s new album you can listen to a leak Click Here. His album can be found in your local receord store and on iTunes download.
Click here to see where Bilal will be next. Check out clips from his performance here…
If you haven’t heard Bilal’s new album you can listen to a leak Click Here.
Sista Soul by Bilal
Also look for more soulful showcases like this form Keepers Lounge by visiting their website for the next event. Click Here