More About Talib Kweli
Ever since emerging as a member of Black Star in the late 1990s, Talib Kweli is one of the few artists making commercially viable music that matters. The Brooklyn bred rapper's hard-hitting music has been able to educate and entertain simultaneously. So it is no wonder that at the peak of their fame, both Jay-Z and 50 Cent named Talib Kweli as one of
their favorite rappers.
With Ear Drum, his first album released on his own Blacksmith Music and his sixth album overall, Kweli has delivered his career-defining work, a polished collection showcasing his advanced lyricism and his penchant for picking music that resonates long after the song ends. "The image of the ear and of the drum are powerful enough by themselves, but when you put them together, it's an instrument that's in your body that helps
you hear," he explains. "They're also two very simple, yet powerful words. I wanted to focus on finding a sound that makes you move, and that's where the word 'Ear Drum' popped in my head."
Throughout Ear Drum, Kweli delivers powerful music that sparks your intellect and makes your body move. He teams with Reflection Eternal partner Hi-Tek on "More Or Less." Over pounding drums and a minimalistic groove, Kweli makes brash declarations on how to improve music specifically and American society in general. "A statement like, we need 'more rap songs that stress purpose/With less misogyny and less curses/Let's put more depth in our verses,' I haven't made bold, blatant
statements since that like 'Manifesto.' There are fans of mine that really appreciate those statements because there are times when those statements need to be made."
An equally bold Ear Drum moment comes on "Country Cousins," which features Kweli trading verses with UGK and Raheem DeVaughn. Over a soulful beat accented by brassy horns, Kweli, Bun B and Pimp C talk about the reality of their experiences growing up in New York and Texas, respectively. "People have the perception of what an East Coast artist sounds like, who he's supposed to be listening to and what he likes, and what a Down South artist sounds like," Kweli explains. "There's preconceived notions and that's really what the song with Bun and Pimp C is about, the preconceived notions between East Coast artists and Down South artists."
Throughout Ear Drum, Kweli makes a point to explore new topics, collaborate with a variety of artists and rap over distinctively innovative production. It is part of Kweli's growth as an artist and as a person. "We need to challenge our audience but we also need to challenge ourselves to know that whatever our new experiences are, we can write about them, be creative and bring that to an audience without them feeling alienated," he says.
Long-time Talib Kweli followers will say the same thing about him. Since his stellar debut with Mos Def as Black Star, Kweli has been one of rap's most exceptional and consistent artists. Released in 2000, Reflection Eternal, the RIAA-certified gold album with Hi-Tek, was one of the most acclaimed albums of the year. In 2002, smash single "Get By," the biting political commentary "The Proud" and the insightful examination of America's gun culture on "Gun Music" made Quality a landmark recording and Kweli's second gold album. Subsequent recordings in 2004 (The Beautiful Struggle) and 2005 (Right About Now) solidified his status as one of rap's most talented and important voices.
Now, after establishing himself as a rap visionary, Kweli along with long-time manager Corey Smyth launched Blacksmith Music. The pair signed an exclusive deal with Warner Bros. to market, promote, and distribute the music of Blacksmith artists. Following Kweli's release on Blacksmith/WBR there will be a new solo album from Jean Grae, the critically acclaimed South African-born female rapper