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Concert Review : Robert Glasper—Black Radio: A Duke x Dilla Celebration


Renowned musician Robert Glasper was the featured performer at the prestigious Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., on March 30th. The event was titled "Robert Glasper—Black Radio: A Duke x Dilla Celebration" in honor of the 125th birth anniversary of Mr. Ellington and the 50th anniversary of Hip Hop. As a Hip Hop Culture Council member, Robert Glasper was keen to commemorate these significant milestones of American music culture with a night of celebration.


The Black Radio Orchestra, conducted by Derrick Hodge, a bassist, two-time Grammy-winning arranger, and musical director, provided the evening's background music. As attendees entered the venue, they were treated to DJ Jahi Sundance's turntable skills. Taking the stage around 8:10, Glasper blessed the crowd with a cover of Ellington's "Satin Doll" and then tickled the Ivories with a few Dilla instrumentals. It was then time for the evening's first guest to take the stage, Bilal.


Bilal performed two Ellington standards and then made Dilla proud by performing "Reminisce" from his debut album, which Dilla produced. The elegant Lalah Hathaway was the next guest to join Bilal for a duet performance of "In A Sentimental Mood." One of the most surprising guests of the evening was J Dilla's little brother, Illa J, who got the crowd hype with performances of "Climax" and "Fall In Love" from Big Bro's Slum Village catalog. Other guests included Kareem, who showed out on "Thelonious" and "African Rhythms."


The evening's most eagerly awaited guests were Hip Hop Legends De La Soul. They played "Thru Ya City" and "Much More" during their performance. The latter song, including a sample of LTD's "Love Ballad," received a boost from Ms. Hathway's contribution, bringing the house down. Hathway's vocals were smooth as aged cognac while she sang lyrics from the abovementioned song, leading to a seamless transition into "Much More." Posdnuous demonstrated why he's one of the most consistent and underrated MCs ever with his performance in "Much More." De La Soul ended the night with "Stakes Is High."


Robert Glasper continues to captivate audiences with his exceptional musicianship and artistry. His latest event with The Kennedy Center showcased the rich cultural heritage of Black music and celebrated the contributions of two iconic figures.


Final Grade: A


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