[MUSIC] 10 ESSENTIAL TALIB KWELI TRACKS VIA @TENTHLETTERMED
Talib Kweli is the embodiment of Hip-Hop and his contributions to both music and the culture are worthy of recognition. I’ve followed Talib since his beginnings with Rawkus Records and his emergence in 2000 helped to make me truly appreciate this movement for more than just a genre of music.
Here are 10 Essential Tracks that feature the Brooklyn MC in his rare and potent form:
The Blast feat. Hi-Tek
This track was a reintroduction to Hip-Hop for me at a time when I was wasn’t happy with it at ALL. At home with the TV on one day, I came across the video for the single. It played on MTV2 and while I wasn’t watching the TV, I was distracted by the melodic sounds of Hi-Tek and Kweli’s lyrical explosion over it. It was a collab effort that helped drive both artists into mainstream recognition. The video was a perfect compliment to the song and what drove me to cop Reflection Eternal: Train of Thought, the first album I bought in over 2 years.
NY Weather Report
Kweli lays it all out in this track that paints a picture of determination amidst the rough canvas that is his native city. From the first bar, he takes control of the track and gives you color commentary on the state of affairs in both Hip-Hop and life. The production is solid and Talib does not bite his tongue with scathing lines on the responsibility of the village to raise its own (none of his peers wanna share the role of a child care provider/but they’ll hand a nigga a blunt and share saliva).
This one came off Kweli’s Quality album and was the first song that I hears of his on radio stations here in Indy! It also showcased production from Kanye West and was yet another refresher for me in terms of Hip-Hop. The beat moves the crowd but Talib is the master of the ceremony with his lyrical jabs at our subtleties and cultural influences. The remix was insane with Mr. West, Mos Def, Jay-Z and Busta Rhymes in contribution.
Hostile Gospel Pt.1 (Deliver Us)
A two-part jewel off the Eardrum album, Talib steps upon his shoebox to promote the movement of Hip-Hop as an aide to overcome the situations presented to the oppressed. The gospel-infused track produced by Just Blaze hits hard as Kweli sticks and moves with shots to the bodies of inferior MC’s. Comparing Hip-Hop to sports entertainment, Kweli questions the status of our elders and the lack of admiration of the culture (What become of the vets? They drugged up, they fucked up, they in debt
There ain’t no love and no respect, it’s like a gang it’s like a club or a set
Hip-Hop’s the new WWF
What do you rap or do you wrestle? Niggas love to forget).
This track forced me to do exactly what it implies. Kweli bangs on your eardrum over the sampling of Fred Williams & The Jewel Band’s Tell Her single. Produced by Kwame, this song was one that had dope references to Reservoir Dogs, White Men Can’t Jump and challenged the notion of people actually listening to what he’s saying is this, or in any of his songs. One of my favorites off the Eardrum album, Kweli began to creep into my top 10 with this one!
Hostile Gospel Pt.2 (Deliver Me)
The sequel fails to disappoint as from the opening horns this track blends both Hip-Hop and Reggae to perfection. “Yeah, this the one right here!” is the claim from Kweli and he and Sizzla Kalonji collab in perfect harmony. Talib requests from the most high to be removed from the surroundings that plague most of us to this day (Nothin is free, you got to be a hero to save
They got you working like a slave from the crib to the grave
A minimum wage can barely keep a job for a home
A car or a phone, forget about gettin a loan
You starting to moan, your bank account is getting withdrawn
It’s pitiful how we becomin slaves to things that we own).
This song was beautiful in terms of the re-imagining of the Nina Simone classic song while highlighting the origins of the women depicted from the original. A bonus track off of Reflection Eternal, Kweli narrates the stories of Auntie, Safronia, Sweet Thang and Peaches over intricate scratches and a harmonic melody. I liked how Talib wasn’t afraid to speak on the many factors that have ravaged our most precious resource: the black woman.
DJ EFN presents Paradise (feat. Wrekonize & Redman)
Released by DJ EFN, this track featured not one but two of my Top 10 MC’s. Hearing Kweli and Funk Doc on the same track was like sensory overload in terms of bars and delivery. It gives off the feel of a Soulquarian project from the 90’s, that gritty New York-style Hip-Hop. Featuring a beat from DJ Premier and introducing Troy Ave, this track is one for the heads of Hip-Hop to truly appreciate.
A somber reminder of the stop that we all have to make in life, whether local or express this track hits home. I like how the chorus makes you question your route to the final destination(Good mourning, good afternoon, good night
What have you done with your life?
Everybody time comes to be embraced by the light
You only scared to die when you ain’t livin right, man
I’m puttin up a hellafied fight). Hi-Tek once again places the scratches in all the right places and Kweli even shouts out the past legends of Hip-Hop such as Curtis Mayfield, Big L and Slang Ton.
The final track from Kweli’s second studio album is one that solidifies his rise to power in Hip-Hop. Fighting the good fight, he and Hi-Tek team up once again to accentuate the elements of DJ’ing and MC’ing that make Hip-Hop what it is. He speaks on the revolution finally arriving and how being labeled as a political rapper is a gross misconception(They call me the political rapper
Even after I tell ’em I don’t fuck with politics
I don’t even follow it
I’m on some KRS, Ice Cube, Chris Wallace shit
Main Source, De La Soul, bumpin’ “2Pacalypse Now”
The author Jerry Miller
Aspiring entertainment writer from Indianapolis, Indiana. I served as the Entertainment Editor for the largest African-American magazine in the city of Indianapolis.