Talib Kweli - Gutter Rainbows

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"It's a tight, cohesive package, but Gutter Rainbows is lacking the highs of Kweli's last two releases."

For over a decade, Talib Kweli has tried, to mixed success, a variety of sounds. Nearly a decade and a half removed from his introduction, the Brooklyn mainstay remains a sharp lyricist who goes unafraid of calling out social institutions, wack rappers and critics alike. Still, the Black Star/Reflection Eternal emcee wants the world to know that he can have a good time, and recent albums have found Kweli with a smile. Gutter Rainbows, Talib's first independent release in several years finds him both celebrating and analyzing, all over some production that's new to the portfolio.

Kweli kicks it off with “After the Rain,” a flute-laced intro courtesy of 88-Keys, who, 13 years after “Thieves in the Night,” continues to make a case that he ought to be one of Kweli’s go-to producers, even though the Brooklyn emcee doesn’t spit a single bar on the cut. Fans hoping for more Idle Warship get two-thirds of the group, as the always-involved Res comes in to croon on the the soulful “So Low.” After the relatively smooth cut, Kweli kicks in the door with Palookas , which features Sean Price. The beat is an absolute monster, as Price and Talib enter vicious verses over Marco Polo’s menacing drums, keys and xylophones that sound like they could’ve come from DJ Premier’s recording session for “Above the Clouds.” Spits Kwe: “My music represent the change in powers / From now on this thing is ours / Got us paintin’ war instead of paintin’ flowers / They shower their heroes with praise, that’s why we hangin’ ours / We bring the drums to the battle because we bang the loudest / You don’t know a thing about it, if you mixing King and Malcolm / Bet you that Kweli the outcome /  Album so hot that my ghetto chicks is bringing talcum / Whether you sing or shout it / They gave someone else the crown but I’m the king without it.”

“Wait For You” and “Ain’t Waiting” continue to explore the piano-lounge style on display on the album’s earlier tracks, though “Cold Rain” is a little more hard-hitting with more pronounced percussion, and more than a twinge of sadness in the notes and subject matter. “Uh Oh” is a strange but enjoyable departure from the sound of the album. Jean Grae continues to showcase her considerable personality and presence on the mic as she and Kweli exchange verses over an over-the-top-sinister organ-laced track that’s instantly super villain status. “Self Savior” brings the album to a close, and does an excellent job of bringing Gutter Rainbows’ laid back sound back to the forefront with a slick verse from Chace Infinite and light piano keys and a touch of sax.

Gutter Rainbows is a fairly easy spin, and can go into the listener’s steady rotation in a pinch. That being said, this feels a bit like a subdued version of Eardrum. Gutter Rainbows has moments that show Kweli's enduring songwriting brilliance, as heard in "Cold Rain," but it also has songs that appear to lack much concept or premise. The Duck Down and Blacksmith guests punctuate the artistic independence, and call back to the artist's first two solo releases. In total, it’s a tight, cohesive package, but Gutter Rainbows is lacking the highs of Kweli’s last two releases.



  • Anonymous

    This album is amazing...every track so far is fire!!

  • gutterhelmet

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  • Trademark Roofing and Gutter

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  • Trademark Roofing and Gutter

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  • Anonymous

    this site is stupid

  • miss hiphop

    Its an OKAY album, 3.5 at best. honestly Kweli could have done so much better, especially when you compare "uh oh" to the rest of the sub-par tracks on the album.

  • ughhhhhhh

    most of you are gassed

  • tony

    you couldnt stop me like the bullets that are inside fifty....DOPE! 4/5

  • no way

    This is nowhere near a 4. It's Kweli's worst to date.

  • PaleHorse


  • Rain

    Another crap review, this album is awesome gets 4 stars.

  • Hip Hop

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DNaz-B77abw if u a fan of kweli u should check this guy out

  • Pablo Escobar

    Hahaha; like he said "Its a 50 Cal vs. a squirt Gun" and "Yall aint got a verse better than my worst one." Its all about that upliftment but along with a heavy dose of pain to sleepers.... Word up to the Warrior P-Body; Heltah Skeltah 4 life 4 Stars

  • Pablo Escobar

    Calm down Killas; mr. Talib is a visionary; yall need to be patient!! Anyway, this album is excellent; real sincerity...Nice to have him serving these Tyson jabs at the sucker filled industry!!!

  • Drake Dilla

    On the vid...Can someone say Book Of Eli? lol..Dope movie fo sho

  • Drake Dilla

    Eardrum, RE:RPM (Eardrum 2), and this effort Eardrum 3...same ol same...Kweli is an alright lyricist, but why not a full fledged Black Star album with Mighty Mos, The Roots, Jill, Questo...Bilal? Where the soulaquarians?

  • Drake Dilla

    Production is pretty dope, sounds a bit like Liberation...I personally like Black Star, the first R.E lp was good, as was Liberation....Eardrum had its moments...But I think Kweli is probably 4 albums passed due, why not save all these latest instros Kwelis been workin with and share the mic with Mighty Mos??? Forget all these solo efforts we want BLACK STAR already!!! And dont give us no RE:RPM???WTF?!?!! Rpm shoulda just been called Eardrum V.2...!!! The people have responded we want BLACK STAR...bring it right or dont do it!!

  • deuce

    This is a solid album not that LIL B bull shiit

  • Mr. Tibbs

    I saw Kweli live 2/4 in Chicago. Great show!!!! He still kills it live and has a great stage presents. The album is good but my rating is based off the show.

  • Anonymous

    this review is off....Kweli is CONSISTENT "The Sleptons" (Keenan Cunnin & AudioLogical) LP is now available for free download...DO IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! http://keenancunnin.bandcamp.com/album/the-sleptons-keenan-cunnin-audiological

  • Muhammad Days

    3/5 really. This site loses more credibility every week.

  • jack johnson

    Revolutions Per Minute was better, i recommend you buy that one instead

  • acc04

    Hot album, Talib comes hard. Dude has always been a crazy lyricist but everything is on point in this album... production for sure. 3 stars? Fuck outta here. Everyone buy this album.

  • Anonymous

    after i saw the 3 star rating i was hesitant bout coppin this album. bigg mistake dont sleep on this shit reviewer is a retard this way better than eardrum on par with his blackstarr era

  • laybackkid

    i like how they don't go into detail about the missing of the highs in talibs last to albums

  • andrewwilson

    This is his best effort after train of thought in fact I prefer rapping on this then his older stuff.

  • weave

    sick album, solid the whole way through

  • legacy1


  • legacy1

    wat the hell is this editor smokin ? this album is dopppppeeeeee I just listened to it and Im extremely impressed soulful beats et al ..well worth copping

  • Anonymous

    yesssssssssssssss 5 starz

  • Derek

    DX you missed the spot on this. 3...really? Fuck you DX, Fuck you!

  • West_Coast_G

    why am i surprised by HHDX rating of this??? probably kweli's best solo work only downside is no physical copies the artwork is sick

  • Ahnree HeGotsoulontwitter Oakes


  • Anonymous

    Still haven't found time to listen to this Album yet but I felt I should reply to some general type of comments.... Just because the reviewer gave this album a lower rating than Rick Ross's or David Banner's or (pitifully so) Nicki Minaj's album doesn't mean the reviewer thinks that Talib Kweli is a rapper/MC with less skills or lower quality music!! I really believe the reviewer prefers to listen to Kweli's music over let's say, Young Jeezy, or Wiz Khalifa (sorry to name-drop)!! We all know there are countless pressures that media outlets go through simply so they can continue to recieve funding, thrive etc. I've learned this the hard way. Unsurprisingly, some editorial integrity inevitably is thrown out the window due to bandwagon mentalities. However trife some of HipHopDX's ratings have been recently, they are still miles ahead of the *(actual sites with exposure)* competition when it comes to emitting their shared awareness of Hip-Hop culture/elements!! Case in point: At least 90% of the other popular websites/publications/magazines etc. refused to even rate PROMINENT underground albums such as Celph Titled & Buckwild's "Ninety-Now", Roc Marciano's "Marcberg", 7L & Esoteric's "1212", and The Left's "Gas Mask". In order, these albums recieved a 4.5, a 4.0, a 4.0, and another 4.0 from HipHopDX! Has anypone ever actually compared from time-to-time the Highest editor-rated albums with highest user-rated albums from time to time????!!!! While not identical, these lists are FAR from polarizing. Just my two cents..... Need I press the point?!


      Preach on brotha...people are still sleepin on that BUCKWILD & CELPH TITLED..that was the album of the year by far...love that shit

  • Mood

    come on! it definitely worth more than 3.


    Lyricism!!!!!!!!!!!!! REAL hip hop

  • Charles ExSavior

    A solid 4 stars. I put Ear Drum a 4.25 and Revolutions Per Minute a 4.5.

    • Jihod

      oh yeah and Gutter Rainbows is a solid 4 outta 5, i might buy it

    • Jihod

      That reflection eternal album is on the same level as "The Beautiful struggle" I was dissapointed with "Revelutions Per Minute" and I'm mad about Dr. Dre ruining Hi-Tek as a producer. RPM was 3.5 at best

  • There Go The Fake Real Hip Hop fans

    wow... Just because his name is on the album doesn't mean that is going down with Illmatic... My god, and then they scream fuck Lil Wayne or fuck Drake at the end.... Listen with open ears. I agree with this review and don't go into saying that I'm not a real hip hop fan because I bet I know rappers you don't. The most narrow minded people of any genre are coming from hip hop, and we are yet the most liberal in political terms. Just recognize good music and it doesn't have to matter from who it comes from (except Rick Ross). They name music as ENTERTAINMENT for people. And if you complain that your favorite rapper isn't as hot as another than say what you will and go listen to what you leisure. P.S. I bet your favorite rapper isn't as radical as you are. Nas wouldn't mind listen to Lil Wayne so why should you? Z-Ro called Young Jeezy necessary for the A-Town. Piece out.

  • FUCK


  • hey fuck your mother

    shit i use to line up bitches in rosarito,mexico for my dude talib.off the beach.smoking till my heart stopped.shit!with a house made of cocaine and broken dreams bad bitches sitting in broken big screens.5 stars

  • big teezy


  • jeff

    I havent heard one song I DIDNT like.

  • Anonymous

    4/5. I dont understand how it';s a 3 though. If you wanna be extra critical for the real lyricists, at least give dude a 3.5

  • PJ

    I downloaded this for free, listened to it, then immediately bought it on iTunes. Very tight album. Feels more like a mixtape than one cohesive album but every track is good and some tracks are really good. I'm feeling this shit. 3 stars is not a good rating at all. 4 or 4.5 I'd say.

  • G

    This is bullshit, the album is a 5/5. Talib Kweli is one of the best rappers dead or alive. Every song is fire. Lyrics are on point. This website is too full of young money dick riders. Support this REAL RAP!

  • Don West

    I think it's a thorough album personally. FAST MONEY! I just started and had $8,000 cash delivered to my doorstep by overnight courier in my first week. This is crazy! See for yourself!

  • Don West

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  • Anonymous

    @Sactowndude I agree that its his best since Quality but then; "hopefully he doesn't go back to that whole 'im tired of the conscience label'thing on his next album and does what he does best." **His next album is going to be Prisoner of Conscious, which is all about his being tired of being labelled a conscious rapper. He might be conscious, but UR not awake!

    • sactown

      ^^LOL. tat's was kind of a tounge and cheek comment. i heard that was the title but i didn't want to beleive it was true. guess i'll just enjoy the moment while it lasts. lol

  • Anonymous

    WOW. I never realized just how stupid & biased these reviewers actually are until now. This idiot is criticizing Kweli's album for not being like the last 2? F**k outta here! Ear drum was one of the worst albums I've ever heard & Beautiful Struggle was aiiiight ONLY. I know most ppl got on at BS & I ain't hatin on THAT, but Kweli was the best on his 1st LP & w/ Blackstarr. He may be a better songwriter now, as he says, but Eardrum made my ears bleed, it was too commercial sounding. This album comes back to basics and this critic doesn't like it? F**k HIM. Keep listening to Drake & Lil Wayne & STOP COMMENTING ON MUSIC THAT IS ACTUALLY GOOD. F**k!

    • Metaphonetics

      Keeping it 100%, str8 no chaser...Kweli steps it up on this album, far better in my opinion than his previous two. Dope lyricist that has difficulty at times reconciling his words over rhythms...meaning Kweli comes off best with Hi-Tek/88 Keys...some of his other ventures are hit and miss with other producers. Bottom line, support this man and his music cuz it's banging 95% of everything else

    • Skele-T

      I totally agree with you, eardrum was his worst album. I actually really liked most of the songs on The Beautiful Struggle. Either way, Gutter Rainbows was an amazing album by Talib, def gonna be top 5 for albums this year. Talib is one of my favorite rappers. Apparently these pussies who rate this are ignorant because they give better ratings to young money and rick ross. Talib Kweli is on top of the game with his lyrics. Gutter Rainbows was nasty, I already loved it after hearing the first 3 songs. Everything you can relate to and enjoy, rather than that fatass rick ross who makes me want to rip out my ears. I definitely think Gutter Rainbows is a 5/5, it's time real rap gets respected.

  • JL

    For the people bitchin about the review not getting the rating they think it should have...get over it. The review is completely on point. Kweli is one of my favorite emcees and this is a decent album, but it really doesnt hit that many high points. With that being said, there's not really any genuine low points. The whole thing is pretty much in the middle, gets the job done but doesnt stay in the mind. This might be because of the lack of energy throughout (I know he's getting older, but still) Hopefully Talib's next joint will pack a little more punch.

  • Real Hip Hop


  • blackzion

    kweli finally got with the right producers that perfectly compliments his lyrical skills which made a beautiful combination on the whole album, from start to finish, there is a good consistency through out the album no low points,and it never losses its bite. I put this album over rpm and eardrum because it is a well put together record, this is vintage liberation. 4.5 out of 5

  • DJJJ

    Don't get bent out of shape just because hiphopdx doesn't know about hip-hop culture and they don't want to recognize the real emcee's. They think Rick Rock is the shit and praise all this goonish rap trash. WE KNOW THE REAL HIP-HOP IS OVER HERE! Would you give this 5 stars if Talib was talking about shooting guns and selling drugs ? C'MON HIP-HOP CULTURE IS ABOUT UPLIFTING THE COMMUNITY! LETS BRING IT BACK!

  • Da One

    Man this album is jammin......(at least a 4)! Not sure what HHDX is talking about...how do you praise an album the whole time then give it a 3?!

  • SoN.Y.

    a 3? what? we listen to the same album DX?

  • Anonymous

    this is a solid album, some weak tracks but DEFFINETLY worth more than a fucken 3...id give it a 3 1/2 or a 4.

  • FLX

    Maybe I just missed it but I didnt hear no Price on that Palookas joint?! Boring album, btw.

  • Bryant Carter

    a friend who was hit by a drunk driver and is now in a coma. Before I say anything else I do ask that you pray for her recovery. I was recently interviewed by a west coast magazine, and just had the interview published to the mag site. If I get enough FB likes my interview will go into the actual magazine. The link is http://wwsmag.com/updates/bryant-c-caught-up-20-10/ I just ask that you take a look, and press like for me. I made it an honest interview so I'm sure that you will like it. http://wwsmag.com/updates/bryant-c-caught-up-20-10/ Also feel free to view my youtube link @ http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=bryantc1000&aq=f

  • Sean Michael Patrick Murphy

    The review basically praises the album the whole time and then says uhhhh not better than Ear Drum so I'm gonna rate it poorly...come on now, it ain't eardrum but it ain't a 3...that's just a smack in Talib's face

  • Kickinknowledge

    Bullshit this album deserves at least a 4/5 . . . You want to give the david banner album a better rating than this? what kind of shit is that. and the rick ross album was thrash, I only heard to good tracks that were strong. Hip Hop DX is fallin off. . .

  • nicolas

    for me talib is the best

  • ASEE

    This is solid effort. I thought that Revolutions Per Minute was one of the best albums of last year so I had pretty high expectations. Some of the tracks are incredible (Friends and Family, Tater Tot, and Wait for You). The two singles are tight (Cold Rain and I'm On One). The problem comes with tracks like Mr. International and Ain't Waiting. These songs remind me of the weaker joints on RPM like Get Loose and Midnight Hour. I have no problem with Kweli channeling his 70's/80's r&b and disco influnces into hip hop, I just don't think he pulls it off very well. Overall I think the album is solid. It's definitely a grower. I'll give it four stars.

  • Anonymous

    i fuck with this album, its at least a 4 to me

  • mac

    this is good album some good cuts . some skippable too .

  • TheRapBox

    I was over all dissapointed with this album, As the guy below me said, the relflection eternal albums have been much better, 1 real good song on the album (Tater Tots) and 1 decent song on the album which wasnt even all Talib, (Uh Oh ft. Jean Grae) Its better than alot of stuff DX gives 4 or 4.5.. but in my books this is a 3/5.

  • Anonymous

    ITs nice raw hip hop..But not his best.... Reflction Eternal was far better.... Still better than wack bubble gum Eminem shit

    • Tduma

      Square Dance is a political commentary and Canibus diss...

    • Beezlebud

      Eminem wouldn't make my top 50 list and lyrically he's overrated as fuck dudes verses are full of filler, he constantly sacryfices content for flow and if he was a skilled lyricist he wouldn't need to do that, you don't see Black Thought doin that weak shit. His content is also wack and repetitive constantly talkin about the same old shit n making the same song like Joell Ortiz said "it's all hypnotism, SAME EXACT SONG, different rhythm" he's yet to display anywhere close to the level of versatility the true elite MCs have and he's never proved himself a dope battler like his groupies claim, anytime a real lyricist disses him he ducks Jay Electronica dissed him NO RESPONSE, Chino XL dissed him NO RESPONSE, Canibus dissed him NO RESPONSE but he has time to diss chicks and respond to wack fucks who pose no challenge like Nick Cannon

    • James Johnson

      fuck that, nigga....eminem aint bubblegum; thats D4l and and soulja boy nigga.......Eminem is one of the most respected lyricysts in the game, and the nigga came back taken over all the crowns nigga......Man and Talib Kweli is my muthafuckin nigga, but dnt be dissin Em like that like u can fuckin rap better fool...


      @Anon...Cold Wind Blows, Talkin To Myself, Session One, So Good, 25 To Life and On Fire to name a few. @Drebin...there was 1 truly skippabe track (WTP). Don't talk about Em being bubblegum pop. Last I heard he's not in the same category as Lady Gaga and Katy Perry. Or even Drake and Minaj. And he's a thousand times more skilled than 99% of the popular rappers out there right now, and more skilled than about 90% of the underground scene (which I do listen to). And besides...this is a Kwe article...why are you bringing up Em? The mere fact that he gets so much mention in the comments of other rapper's articles shows how many people either love him or are afraid of him and choose to hate (white boy = most talented rapper out right now).

    • Anonymous

      Itsthetruth STFU what does his Westwood freestyle have to do with the FACT Recovery was a bubblegum pop album name a single song on that album that isn't a bubblegum pop song

    • DrebinSlevin

      You're probably one of those Eminem fans that jump on the Recovery bandwagon. You have to admit, how many tracks on Recovery were skippable? Most of that album was sub par.

    • ItsTheTruth

      Eminem = Wack bubble gum shit? Do yourself a favor and go youtube eminem tim westwood freestyle and/or eminem BET cypher, all recent stuff...if your gonna use wack bubble gum in a sentence, theres way more rappers in line in front of Eminem that would be more appropriate. I'm not even gonna go there. SMH@ dudes who think eminem is wack or bubblegum because he tried something new or is considered mainstream. ppl like u think only underground rappers are nice...SMH


    this album is really fucking good.

  • JamMaster Jason

    hey dx,its nice to see your reviews so fast after the release. But on the other hand, some albums take their time to get its full potential...

  • Bauce

    Well I'll check for it eventually. Kinda wish he would give Kanye a call.

  • PTONE814


  • dissapointed

    "Cold Rain" is the best Talib solo song since "Holy Moly," but I agree with review... the Loungy stuff is corny. I'ma support the singles, not the album.

  • Sactowndude

    Three stars huh? Maybe you need to listen again. This is the return of the kewli we all love. He was starting to sound like a tired, bitter zealot (al la KRS One) on his last few releases, but he seems to have found his spark. This is his best album since Quality. hopefully he doesn't go back to that whole "im tired of the conscience label" thing on his next album and does what he does best.