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The Beautiful Struggle

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Album Review

Something's not right when a high compliment — one laid down on wax, no less! — from a giant like Jay-Z doesn't set off a major sales spike. Such is the case with Talib Kweli, a phenomenal MC who has only flirted with mainstream acceptance, despite being admired by a host of harder-edged platinum artists. Rather than try to ride out that slow if steady momentum and see where it takes him, Kweli takes the power into his own hands and grabs for the brass ring. The Beautiful Struggle is far from a 180 for him, but it's just out of character enough to be awkward. Whether he's attempting to bridge the underground to the mainstream or simply pull away from the former, the results aren't wholly convincing. Not only is Kweli attempting to alter the way in which he's perceived through his own verses; he's also been keeping some unlikely company — a (superior) prealbum mixtape featured guest spots from Fabolous, Styles P, and G-Unit addition Shawn Penn. More than once on this album, Kweli's as anxious to lose his backpacking image as a fourth grader at 3 p.m. On the title track, he declares, "They call me the political rapper even after I tell 'em I don't f*ck with politics, I don't even follow it." He stands no chance of losing that tag when a line like "the motherf*cking Democrats is acting like Republicans" is contained within the same verse. Plus, he always has and always will excel at depicting facets of interpersonal politics. As much as The Beautiful Struggle is likely to catch longtime fans off-guard and leave mainstream followers indifferent, Kweli's unexpected moves appear to have more to do with trying new things — and possibly thwarting preconceived notions — than desperation. Still, there's no denying that it misses a little more than it hits.

Customer Reviews


Ok seriously, Talib Kweli is amazing. The fact that he doesn't get at least the same amount of recognition as people like 50 Cent or Kanye West is really kind of sad. Buy his music, spread the word.


kweli has a great sound, all of his stuff is beyond great.

From some time ago before the flow

This CD is constructed well. Talib Kweli is a solid MC who's got a good link to the street with an edge that holds him up above the waterline quite well. I first heard Talib on Soundbombing when it was first released in a commercial store in Burnaby BC Canada. I liked him back then, and own this album on CD. My friend Mike often requests this CD when in the car and likes it straight from the initial track "F**k the harder way / We're doing it the smarter way" This line shows true (from my perspective) in that Kweli is a smart (intellectually gifted) rapper who has shown evolved lyrics that are fused in and well/from the street, yet still has that edge that let him slice from the underground into the mix that's more likely to be heard by the 'mass' audience. True (from another review) Talib Kweli hasn't been as successful sales wise as other MCs, though gladly he's done well enough to allow himself prosperity. Too much light can burn things, though I hope that there's enough to keep Talib warm. This CD should be one in a rap/hip-hop fans bag of tricks as it shows good/great continuity and is a piece that should be played from start to finish.


Born: October 03, 1975 in Brooklyn, NY

Genre: Hip-Hop/Rap

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

If skills sold, Talib Kweli would have been one of the most commercially successful rappers of his time. As it was, however, the earnest MC became one of the most critically successful rappers of his time, which dawned in the late '90s when he rapped alongside Mos Def and DJ Hi-Tek as part of the group Black Star. This trio of up-and-comers and their widely acclaimed self-titled 1998 album debut, Black Star, helped make Rawkus Records one of the premier underground rap outposts of the late '90s....
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