Good vibrations and loving energy radiated from Cafe Berlin as Chicago artists Jay Wood and Malcolm London joined musically and poetically gifted artistic souls in a performance to go down in Columbia history.
London is a political hip-hop and rap artist who is also a master at poetry. As a champion of poetry slam competition Louder Than a Bomb, an author of a TED Talk, a leader of protests and a leader of black youth within his own community, London feels that the title of activist applies to more than just himself.
This is Malcolm London’s second time performing at Cafe Berlin. He performed last year on tour with Jay Wood, as well. Now he is back on tour releasing his new EP, Right Away Series. London hopes that his poetry will hit audience members on a reflective level.
“My performance is less about me and more about the moment,” London says “That’s what I am trying to do as an artist: create moments where people feel validated, and be able to affirm themselves and proclaim loudly that they love themselves.”
Right now Malcolm London is working on a short film to go along with Right Away Series, a project which involves a lot of political commentary and self-reflection.
Jay Wood is no stranger to the Cafe Berlin community.
“Cafe Berlin definitely takes care of their artists,” Wood says “Water, food, hospitality, great people: I have never had a bad experience here. The sound is always good. They have a natural crowd that comes in, which is good.”
Wood is also no stranger to performing with London, and says he enjoys the time they share.
“Malcolm London is just a great guy, honestly,” Wood says. “My favorite part about performing with Malcolm is the energy that he brings. He is always up. He is also one of the best performers I have ever seen.”
Jay Wood has some exciting new works in the mix. This concert was just the start of the new year to come.
“I’m plotting,” Wood says. “I am trying to be next-level and trying to separate myself from what’s being over-saturated right now.”
The concert also featured the Cafe Berlin’s One Mic collective group of poets who performed their own pieces in between music sets.
Donte performed with DJ Hood Bunny and delivered a fresh, unique sound that still caters to the hip-hop and rap culture while forming its own identity in the process. He played music you could rock to, bop to, hop to and cry to. Donte left the crowd wanting more.
London came to the stage and told his story with powerful, politically inclined and poetically divine lyrics. He got the crowd involved, screaming “London”, “love”, and “yeah” throughout his set. London showed love in return by sporting MU gear and hugging a fan for dancing the most and raising her voice when asked. One of his songs, “House Party”, included a sample of Montell Jordan’s “This is How We Do it” and the crowd went crazy. Hips were swinging, arms were flinging, and, most importantly, everyone was having a good time.
Jay Wood was most excited to perform a song called “Jesse White” during his set, and says that he has been practicing things to try and get the crowd more involved.
Wood indeed followed through and connected with the crowd during his time onstage. Wood talked to the audience like a friend and told stories that made the audience interact. He got the most laughs between songs by simply being himself.
What went down at Cafe Berlin was one for the books. It was intensively interactive and reeked of good vibes of love and happiness through the art of poetry and hip-hop.