For some strange reason, Talib Kweli always gets put at the forefront of the “conscious rap” or “real rap” debate as if his extremely varied music catalogue solely lacks fun and danceable tunes. Those who’ve followed the Brooklyn emcee understand the falsity in that notion. Over twenty years in the game, Kweli has a level of creative reach within Hip Hop that’s essentially rivaled by Kanye West himself. There are few highly regarded emcees who can say they’ve collaborated with everyone from Black Thought, Kool G Rap, Common and Mos Def to Gucci, Nelly and Justin Timberlake. It just so happens that Kweli can make bangers without sacrificing lyrical integrity. Yes, ladies and gentlemen of the oversaturated internet generation, that is possible. This isn’t a discussion of what’s radio or pop friendly, it’s about fun, entertaining music from one of Hip Hop’s greatest wordsmiths. Since there are a few lazy journalists who fail to understand that, here are some dope tracks representing a side to Kweli many refuse to acknowledge.
Back Again Featuring RES
Regardless of his amazing run as a solo artist, Kweli will forever remain attached to the success he’s had as one-half of Blackstar with Mos Def and Eternal Reflection with Hi-Tek. For his second round with Eternal Reflection through Revolutions Per Minute, Kweli got frequent collaborator RES for the foot moving “Back Again.” If the drums alone don’t make you move, ones ears might be derelict.
Hot Thing Featuring will.i.am
Many chart topping artists in Hip Hop always try to appeal to “the ladies,” ironically by spitting misogynistic lyrics and making sure it’s twerk-worthy. Getting will.i.am for “Hot Thing” did the exact opposite. It’s not ass shaking music yet extremely two-step friendly and manages to be female friendly without sounding disrespectful.
Who Got It
Right About Now – The Official Sucka Free CD is one of those lost treasures in Kweli’s catalogue. Who doesn’t remember phenomenal singles including “Fly That Knot” and the poignant “Ms. Hill.” However, “Who Got It” has a catchy hook, intricate rhymes and banging beat by Karriem Riggins.
“Get By” was Kweli’s breakout Kanye West produced single from his solo debut Quality. Crazy enough, it would be the first time Ye tackled a Nina Simone sample before controversial Yeezus single “Blood On The Leaves.” Kweli used the funktastic bassline to people his heightened abilities on the mic.
Put It In The Air Featuring DJ Quik
Those within the know understand that Kweli will probably go down in rap history as one of the few emcees from New York to make adequate Crip/Blood Walking music. Then again, having DJ Quik in the mix makes everything more authentic.
Like mentioned above, Mos Def & Talib Kweli Are Black Star is basically one of the greatest albums to come from Rawkus Records. And yes, “Definition” is one of those great all-purpose tracks that fit all types of moods. Those who’ve gone to enough Do Over events in LA have probably heard this more than a few times.
Ain’t Waiting Featuring Outasight
Kweli has gone on record in saying that he’s made more money on Gutter Rainbows than anything he did during Blacksmith days at Warner Brothers. With that in mind, “Ain’t Waiting” featuring Outasight is one of his best forays into pop space while maintaining his artistic integrity. Hell, I had my mom dancing to this at one time.
Yes, there was a time where the masses considered Eric B & Rakim’s “Paid In Full” a club smash. Being the student of the culture he is, Kweli did an interesting flip on track three of Prisoner Of Conscious on “Turnt Up.” Attending a BBQ of age groups, this is one of Kweli’s best examples of great transgenerational music.
Get Em High
“Get Em High” could be considered the biggest banger on Kanye West’s College Dropout. While the conversation of who had the best verse between West, Kweli and Common will forever last the test of time, Brooklyn’s son got busy on one of the album’s highlight instrumental.
Poltergeist Featuring Gucci
For those who feel Kweli is removed from getting ratchet, “Poltergeist” featuring Gucci should keep folks quiet. Tracks like this and others above prove how multi dimensional he is as an artist. Regardless of how many traditionalist or progressives like to bash each other’s subjective taste, Kweli refuses to play any side which is exactly why he’s the rap legend he is.