Few emcees have been more celebrated in the past decade than Talib
Kweli. The Brooklyn rapper rose relatively quickly from his
underground fame at Rawkus to becoming fairly well recognized
among the mainstream dwellers. Despite the fact that his most "underground"
record (Reflection Eternal's Train of Thought), is
his best selling, Talib has spent his last three solo albums
trying to buck stereotypes and make the music that his core fans don't think he
should be making. The result has been inconsistent albums that don't come near
his potential as an artist.
It may have been a ridiculous elitist notion that he shouldn't work with The
Neptunes, but those fans were right as the results were atrocious.
Instead of just doing what he does best, Kweli was too busy
trying to shed his backpacker label and that only succeeded in doing one thing;
hurting the music. Eardrum, thankfully, has Kweli
comfortable in his own skin and making the kind of music everyone but him knew
he should have been making all along. Even better, he has improved tremendously
in the other areas of emceeing. While he has been unquestionably a premier
lyricist, his flow and delivery in the past has often been awkward at best and
horrific at worst.
Kweli opens with "Everything Man," an understated and
soulful Madlib production and sounds right at home. He
finishes off his usual visceral rhymes with a telling line: "I tried to fit
it in the same rhyme/but realized I couldn't be everything to everyone at the
time." With the proceeding songs, that is just what he does. Sticking to
his comfort zone without skimping on the panache, Talib
breezes through the album with remarkable consistency (and skill of