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Album Review

While his erstwhile Black Star mate Mos Def concentrated on his acting career, Talib Kweli set about crafting a truly solo follow-up to his acclaimed debut, Reflection Eternal, this time with a variety of producers in place of partner DJ Hi-Tek. The excellent Quality only ups the ante, building on its predecessor's clear-minded focus with greater scope and a more colorful musical palette. Right off the bat, it's apparent that Kweli has traded his old-school minimalism for a warmer, richer sound — complete with some live instrumentation — that's immediately inviting and accessible. The opening trio of songs — "Rush," "Get By," and "Shock Body" — ranks among the most exciting music he's recorded, and the album only branches out from there. Kweli can pull off genial, good-time hip-hop like lead single "Waitin' for the DJ" and the DJ Quik-produced "Put It in the Air," and follow it with the blistering (and incisive) political fury of "The Proud." He reflects on his image as a so-called conscious rapper on "Good to You," and pushes its boundaries on the Cocoa Brovaz collaboration "Gun Music," where he twists the lyrical conventions of dancehall reggae to his own ends. Pharoahe Monch and the Roots' Black Thought put in exciting guest spots on "Guerrilla Monsoon Rap," and Mos Def appears on "Joy," where Kweli manages to describe the births of his two children without getting self-indulgent. A couple of the mellow R&B jams do get a little too mellow for their own good, drifting along and slowing the album's otherwise consistent momentum. Nonetheless, nearly everything Kweli tries works, and the array of producers keeps things unpredictable. Quality is proof that intelligent hip-hop need not lack excitement, soul, or genuine emotion; it's one of the best rap albums of a year with no shortage of winners.

Customer Reviews

Talib Kweli is tremendous

The reason I love Talib Kweli is simply because of what he is. He is a decent, socially conscious, lyrically gifted rapper, who has even achieved a degree of commercial success. He is one of the most talented writers that contemporary hip hop has to offer, and he has the morals and ideals of someone like Marvin Gaye or Stevie Wonder. Although Quality isn't completely defiant of all the ills of mainstream rap, it is a big step in the right direction. In addition to Talib's truly admirable rhymes and subject matter, the production is also thoroughly enjoyable. In the end, I think Quality will be remembered as an important page in the history of true hip hop, and rightfully so.


Now a days there are a gang of mainstream commercial artist who care more about the dollar than the music and the audience. That will be your Jay-Z's, 50 Cent's, and Nelly's to name a few. If it was really all about the music then we would have more artist like TALIB KWELI, Kanye West, Common, and Mos Def artist who care more about the art of music and not how many records they sell so they can get that all mighty dollar...THIS IS TRUE HIP HOP AT IT'S BEST!!!!

censorship for the cheap

explain to me the reasoning behind offering the same album, one version being censored and cleansed for the masses and the other being raw and true, at substantially different prices. I feel Talib and the truth he speaks, but is it not disrespectful and contradictory to his ideals and motifs that he has presented to exploit and subsequently strong arm individuals to pay more for the original product? If this was a true and just society, those who would want the false representation and palatable alternative would pay the greater price.


Born: October 3, 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....
Full Bio

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