Conscious rhymes aplenty from the Brooklyn rapper...
Elle J Small 2007
If you thought hip hop was all about 50 Cent, shiny cars and big butts, think again. There are rappers and then there are hip hop poets. Talib Kweli is one of finest of the latter. Utterly underrated by the mainstream yet highly appreciated by close knit, underground connoisseurs, this New Yorker is up there with the crème de la crème of hip hop artists, from The Roots to Roots Manuva.
Ear Drum, Kweli’s sixth album, boasts 19, thought-provoking, head-nodding tracks, featuring renowned artists like Norah Jones, Justin Timberlake, Kanye West and will.i.am of Black Eyed Peas fame. Kweli has done well hooking up with these superstars; uneducated radio playlisters will hopefully take more than one dismissive glance at the tracks. Some of the best joints, however, feature artists the majority will have never heard of. Super-chilled number “Country Cousin” hears Raheem Devaughn’s gorgeous vocal glides between Kweli’s catchy raps as UGK deliver punchy bars.
It’s Kweli that’s the real start of the show though. On “NY Weather Report” his social commentary shines: ‘Females left to raise up our son/ From the day he was one/ Until they 20 and he raise up a gun…’ And there’s plenty more conscious thoughts throughout this stellar LP. On the Madlib-produced “Eat To Live”, Kweli contemplates starvation in Africa, harmful ingredients in western food, bird flu and CJD. Elsewhere the talented lyricist reports on warped religion, extremist divides, war and racism.
Eardrum isn’t the kind of hip hop album you’ll be hearing in the clubs; this one’s for the seriously deep thinkers, cool motorway cruisers and professional Sunday loafers.