A mixture of fun and freedom fighter since the late ’90s, Talib Kweli has mastered the art of career survival in a fickle game that often looks past the deserving. While key aspects to his longevity have been a knack for entertainment and strong beat selection, he has shouldered criticisms of betraying his core with questionable collaborations that have broadened his base. With anticipation steady building for the forthcoming Prisoner Of Conscious LP, Kweli has given listeners an extensive appetizer with the free of charge Attack The Block.
Assisted by the turntable exercises of DJ Z-Trip, Talib Kweli’s vibrant energy combines forces with a laundry list of guests from household names to rising sensations, a versatility that rarely compromises his music. Mindful of his grassroots beginnings, Talib’s streak with the Strange Fruit Project’s S1 extends to work with the producer’s son VohnBeatz and understudy J Rhodes respectively on the boards for “Letter To The Government” and “Congregation” (co-starring Ab-Soul and Black Thought). Faithful to the underground element formerly associated with his craft, the veteran gives light to John Forte, Skyzoo, Posdnuous and Fashawn with “That’s Enough” and demonstrates his always growing range exchanging romantic Rap alongside Ryan Leslie on “Outstanding.”
Truly pleasant surprises come as the more prolific half of Black Star matches wits with Mac Miller for “Earning Potential,” aligns himself with the contrasting tough style of Black Hippy’s Jay Rock on “The Corner,” and miraculously pulls a clean verse free of vulgarity out of Lil Wayne on “Celebrate.” These meetings on middle ground display flexibility previously thought unfathomable, testament to Kweli’s dedication to progressing the culture. Though slight drawbacks come from the spin on Tyga’s recent ratchet hits with “Make It Classy,” the avant-garde Das Racist on “I Like It” and an outdated Greg Nice spot on the Big Apple tribute “NY Shining,” Attack The Block mostly benefits as a well-rounded and concise effort. Talib Kweli continues establishing his brand as one bridging the gaps between past and present while also acting as a medium finding chemistry with glamorous and lesser heard emcees alike. If able to excuse the orchestrated business moves behind a few of his creative decisions, Hip Hop fans from all walks of life can find enjoyment in this star-studded effort.
DX Consensus: “Free Album” (the highest possible praise for a mixtape)