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Talib Kweli

Release Date: 11.19.02
Record label: MCA
Genre(s): Rap, Hip-Hop, R&B, etc.

90 Music-Critic Score
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Makin' Kool-Aid Say "Oh Yeah!"
by: nick evans


Talib Kweli is a rare breed in the game of hip hop. In a world of mindless rap (e.g. “Never Scared” by Bone Crusher, “Right Thurr” by Chingy) Quality stands tall above the rest as deep and philosophical in some parts, but fun and free in others. The album balances the two perfectly, and with its brilliant and complex production, it could well receive the “classic” status that Mos Def has received for his 1998 work Black on Both Sides.


The whole disc has the sort of atmosphere that was made on his collaboration with Mos Def, the stellar Black Star album. It’s urban and has its street appeal, but at the same time it's intelligent. “Waiting for the DJ” was probably not the best choice as the start off single for the album, as it could be a misinterpretation of what the album is about. But while that single failed commercially, “Get By” got him the recognition he deserves. Radio only sent it to number 78 on the charts, but brought him to a whole new audience.


The beats are what stand out on this album more than anything. They are complex, original, and creative. He uses a lot of “melody within the beat”, not using the same thing over and over. The lyrics are well crafted and thought out, and even tackle a variety of issues. In “Gun Music” he talks obviously about gun control and even world affairs. (“Silencers bring the heat without bringing the noise/ Bringing the funk of dead bodies, go ahead bring in your boys/ You’ll see the soul of black folk like W.E.B DuBois/ Israelites got tanks and Palestinians got rocks”) In “Joy”, he collaborates with Mos Def sharing his fatherhood experiences. “Where Do we Go?” questions the life of a gangster and urban life in general. Yet the other half of the album is all about having a good time. “Waitin for the DJ” and “Put it in the Air” are light enough that they could fit comfortably in a party atmosphere.


Talib is as deep, innovative, and philosophical as hip hop gets. While the album doesn’t dive into the extreme experimental territory like Common did with “Electric Circus”, he kept it fairly mainstream, and it suits him well. Its an album that perfectly balances street appeal with critical success. Kweli is going to save hip hop from the commercial hell it is in right now. 27-Jun-2003 8:45 AM