You can more or less tell what Talib Kweli thinks a certain segment of his fans expect from him by the fact that he’s tentatively named his upcoming album, Prisoner of Consciousness. Things came to a head this summer when some fans criticized Kweli for a Gucci Mane collaboration. And while Kweli gets praise from some critics for thought provoking subject matter, he says he has an appreciation for the various new sub-genres arriving on the scene.
“I think the biggest difference from when I came in the game is the lyrics,” “You have younger artists who are about lyrics, but it’s not so much steeped in the culture like it was when I was coming up. Whether it’s Hip Hop culture or Black Nationalist culture, gangsterism is kind of fading out. It’s not something that’s extra, extra deep. It’s more about the music.
In addition to mentioning his mentoring of Bow Wow, Kweli says he appreciates newer artists like Wiz Khalifa, Nicki Minaj and Drake. And that approach allows him to take a philosophical outlook on everyone from Soulja Boy to Blu—especially when it comes to collaborations.
“Blu I knew about, but Joell [Ortiz] I asked about,” Kweli said, in reference to his “Hostile Gospel” remix . “I sense when an emcee can mesh well with my style.”
While he also expressed his respect for artists who probably wouldn’t mesh well with his style, Kweli points to one artist as the link between himself, the Golden Era and Pop chart mainstays like Soulja Boy.
“In a Hip Hop sense, [Kanye West] is a conduit,” he said. “I learned a lot from Premier, Pete Rock and Q-Tip. And then Kanye learned a lot from me Common, The Roots and Mos Def.”