Talib Kweli recently spoke on current rappers he is intrigued by.
“I’m excited by [Pro Era],” Kweli said in an interview for XXL. “Those kids seem to be directly inspired, not by what’s going on in Hip Hop now, but they’re inspired by the Hip Hop of their parents. The same way my generation was inspired by the Blaxploitation era. I was born in ’75, so a lot of the Hip Hop artists my age on the East Coast, we took on that pimp, player music persona. [In] the West Coast, it was like George Clinton, Parliament-Funkadelic samples. For the kids that were born in the ’70s, that’s what was hot in the ’90s, because that’s what our parents were listening to. These kids, their parents were listening to Wu-Tang [Clan], Black Moon, Nas, Mobb Deep, hardcore East Coast Hip Hop. So what you’re hearing is a teenager or a 21-year-old version of that, paying tribute to what their parents are listening to. A lot of it, especially because they’re from Brooklyn, sounds like Boot Camp [Clik] to me, but Boot Camp 2.0, redone. It’s fresher because the styles are newer and fresher.
“What I like about Pro Era – not just Joey Bada$$, but I’m not as familiar with the other rappers as I am with Joey – but when I hear the tapes, even though Joey Bada$$’ voice at this point stands out to me, when I hear the whole crew rap, they’re not just like, ‘I got coke. I got guns. And I’m this,’” he continued. “They’re like, ‘Yo, I’m telling you how I feel about the world, how I feel about these fucking police, how I feel about living in Brooklyn.’ I’m giving you facts about the hood, but I’m also telling you how I feel about it. It’s not just bragging about who I am or creating some sort of caricature of who I want to be. And it’s not conscious rap, but it’s not unconscious. It’s very aware of what’s going on around them.”
“It’s like a family member,” Kweli said of the album. “It’s something that’s been in my life. It’s helped me out with a bunch of things and it’s great. It’s a great thing to be a part of. It sort of snuck up on me. There always seems to be some sort of anniversary around that album. The whole [making] of it was great, getting to work with Common, getting to travel, working at Funky Slice [Studios]. It was a great experience. I think [it holds up] pretty fucking good.”
A collaboration fans can look forward to is one between Kweli and another New York rapper/producer. “I’m working with Q-Tip on my new album,” Kweli said. “Just being around him and seeing him work, I’ve now watched him get giddy over samples and play me beats and stuff. And it’s like, ‘Wow, is this how he made Midnight Marauders?’”
Kweli’s next album, tentatively titled Gravitas, is currently slated for a 2014 release date.