Blue Scholars dazzled Brooklyn

We take the next hour to chat among ourselves to fill the time. Before we know it, 60 minutes pass and the crowd suddenly erupts into a mad frenzy—the Blue Scholars have arrived.

With an old-fashioned Kodak film camera hanging from his neck, Geo looks completely at home on the stage with a microphone in his hand. He briefly acknowledges the audience before jumping into “Cinemetropolis,” the title track off their most recent album “Cinemetropolis” (2011), a polished exploration of what happens when real life and cinema collide. Within seconds, the entire room is singing along with Geo, his voice spilling over bars about 35mm film, Godard and Lino Brocka. The next 90 minutes take us through the Scholars’ entire discography: “Blue Scholars” (2005), “Bayani” (2007), and the previously-mentioned “Cinemetropolis” was funded entirely by a Kickstarter campaign that made it’s $25,000 goal in 11 days and more than $60,000 in less than two months.

Just as soon as it started, it’s over. Geo and Sabzi exit stage-left to unrelenting chants of “Encore!” and “one more song!” After listening to Geo rap against U.S. foreign policy, neo-imperialism and socioeconomic struggles for almost two hours, it’s now our turn to protest. We raise our voices in fierce unison, exercising our Constitutional right to request one or two more songs, growing in volume until Sabzi comes back to the turntable in utter submission. We are now beyond ecstatic.

Geo then brings up the intro to “Slick Watts,” a sweeping anthem celebrating well-known streets and landmarks in the greater Seattle area and the names of former Supersonics players. He and I make eye contact and he gestures to my sweater. I barely have enough time to react as he takes my arm and pulls me onstage in front of more than 500 people. The lights are reduced to hazy explosions of bright sound as I dance with Sabzi and Geo, shouting each line at the top of my weary lungs.

The song is only three minutes long, but it’s enough to leave me gasping for air. I attempt to make my way back into the throng of bodies as they close with “No Rest For the Weary,” a vivid picture of today’s blue-collar struggle; appropriately enough, the term blue-collar is where the name “Blue Scholars” derives from. It represents everything they stand for: empowering the youth, challenging authority and working-class perseverance.

My watch now reads 3:18 a.m. as I trudge my way up Homelawn Street, my limbs aching. I find myself repeating the last lines of the closing song in my head: “The lessons might change but the essence of the message is the same / So when they say anything / Say, ‘Why is it?’ / Class is in session ‘til the teacher gets a pink slip / So keep marching ‘til your feet split open / No rest for the weary, Blue Scholars keep going.”

And as for Blue Scholars, class has only just begun.