Somethin' for the People

Bilal

Bilal

Philadelphia’s own Bilal burst onto the music scene in 2001 with his debut album, “1st Born Second,” which sold 319,000 copies and featured the singles “Fast Lane,” “Love It” and the hit “Soul Sista.” Producers included the legendary Dr. Dre and the late J. Dilla.

After a nine-year layoff, Bilal, a graduate of Philadelphia High School for Creative and Performing Arts, is back with his second official album, Airtight’s Revenge.

A provocative genre-bending album that dissects love, politics and relationships, Airtight’s Revenge demonstrates Bilal’s growth as an artist, and is a mixture of jazz, hip-hop, soul, blues and experimental free music. Bilal performs songs from his new album on Nov. 28 at World Cafe Live.

The differences in economical social classes inspired the track “Robots,” which scrutinizes societal and governmental effects on people. After watching the 2007 documentary, “Zeitgeist: The Movie”—a film filled with conspiracy theories—Bilal wrote “Who R U.”

“Little Ones,” a smooth track with a soulful sound, is dedicated to his sons. His youngest son suffers from sickle cell anemia and his oldest son is autistic.

Throughout his career, Bilal has collaborated and performed with some of hip-hop and R&B’s most prominent artists, including, Beyonce, Common, Mos Def, Jay-Z, Erykah Badu, Musiq and The Roots.

Questlove, drummer for The Roots, has called Bilal “hands-down, one of the greatest specimens of voice in post-modern hip-hop culture.”

The event takes place at 8 p.m. For more information, call 215-222-1400 or visit www.worldcafelive.com. Tickets cost $28, $30, $38, $40.

Originally published on November 11, 2010