A pre-fame Talib Kweli’s life changed when he got his girlfriend pregnant. “Then it was on,” he says during an interview with The Combat Jack Show. “Then it was like, ‘I either have to stop this rap shit and go back to school and get a craft and just do it up, or I got to go hard body and just keep going.’ When I found out my girl was pregnant, I didn’t miss nothing. I went to every show. I went to every open mic. I grabbed every microphone I could. I threw my own shows at the bookstore. I just got on beastmode. I literally went to something every night.”
Talib Kweli was running with John Forte at the time, putting up flyers and trying to break into the music industry. He had also dropped out of school, gotten a job and moved into an apartment with several of his friends, the BK rapper says during the interview.
One of those roommates was from Cincinnati and told him about the Rap group Mood. Kweli went to the Ohio city to check out the Rap scene there. During that trip in the mid-1990s, he met Hi-Tek, who was also working with Mood.
“I went out to visit Cincinnati, came back with a beat tape from Hi-Tek,” Talib Kweli says during the interview. “I made a couple songs off of them, gave the songs to Danny Castro [one of the founders of the Lyricist Lounge]. He was like, ‘I like this song.’ Let me get on the next Lyricist Lounge. So now I’m on the Lyricist Lounge, but I got Hi-Tek beats. Hi-Tek took the Greyhound bus, stayed at my crib. We had the DAT machine up, put it up. Now I performed as ‘Talib Kweli featuring Hi-Tek.’ That made the difference because now the beats matched what I was doing lyrically. That show, I walked away with Q-Tip, who was my favorite emcee at the time, like, ‘Yo. That was dope.’ To the point where the next Lyricist Lounge, two months later hosted by De La Soul, they asked me to perform again. Next Lyricist Lounge, two months later after that, they asked me to perform at that. Now I become a staple. Now I’m performing at every Lyricist Lounge.”
From there, Talib Kweli partnered with Hi-Tek for Reflection Eternal, teamed with Mos Def for the Black Star album in 1998 and launched a successful solo career in 2002 that has included the singles “Get By” and “Hot Thing,” among others. Talib Kweli released his Prisoner Of Conscious album on his own Javotti Media this year.
RELATED: Reflection Eternal (Talib Kweli & Hi-Tek) Revolutions Per Minute [Album Reviews]