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Though he is an undeniably talented rapper, Talib Kweli has been in something of a creative holding pattern since the release of 2002’s Quality, an album whose unyielding title seems to have provided Kweli with his creative mantra. The problem is that Kweli’s conception of quality, self-righteously indignant raps over dusty sample based beats, is something of an anachronism in 2007. Yet there are many pleasures to be found here. Kweli’s trademark lisp sounds particularly compelling over the rheumatic thump and squeal of Madlib’s “Everything Man,” while the once mighty Pete Rock proves that he’s still capable of turning out stellar material with the defiantly old-school “Holy Moly.” The album becomes most tiring when Kweli gripes about his now marginalized status as an underground rapper abandoned by a fickle fanbase. In truth, if Kweli is irrelevant in 2007 it is his own fault. Still it's unfortunate since he has done little to earn such commercial neglect other than to continue to produce quality music. Those who have enjoyed Kweli’s music in the past will find much to enjoy on Eardrum.

Customer Reviews

Talib Kweli-Eardrum

The third album from Talib, Eardrum is his new album off Warner Bros. Records and his new and own label, Blacksmith Music. Everything Man: Production was solid and laid back, as Kweli's flow smoothly glides for a great intro. 4/5 NY Weather Report: Uptempo, decent track. 3/5 Hostile Gospel Pt. 1: Similar to Kanye's "Jesus Walks" from the booming bass to the choir background. It still sounds good. 3.5/5 Say Something: Jean Grae appears on this simple drum pulse and assisting bass. Nice track here that brings some heat. 3.5/5 Country Cousins: A nice highlight here, the soulful/classy production is nice, as UGK join Kweli to talk about the connection between the south and east. 4/5 Holy Moly: Production was decent, track was okay. 3/5 Eat To Live: Kweli talks about poverty here on this piano/string production. Nicely crafted. 3.5/5 In The Mood: Kanye and Roy Ayers guest appear with a classy and smooth production, similar to "Eat To Live". 3.5/5 Soon The New Day: Norah Jones adds soothing vocals to this one night stand track. 3.5/5 Give Em Hell: Lyfe Jennings and Coi add vocals, as Kweli is on top of his lyrical game on this wah wah filled production. 3.5/5 More Or Less: Dion's hook is decent as Talib talks about wanting more of this and less of that. 3.5/5 Stay Around: Decent track, a little dull. 3/5 Hot Thing: Will.I.Am's hook is fitting on this laid back groove that has Kweli talking about the ladies as his "Hot Thing". 4/5 The Perfect Beat: Production was boring, KRS-One tries to bring it but the track doesn't work like it should and becomes the weakest one. 2.5/5 Oh My Stars: Musiq smoothens things out as Talib works with the light production. 3.5/5 Listen!: Produced by Kwame, the first single has some fire to it, pumping drums make this work. 4/5 Go With Us: Strong Arm Steady and Kweli create a lively party cut, that works. 3.5/5 Hostile Gospel Pt. 2: Sizzla brings some reggae feel to this cut, it is on par with the first one. 3.5/5 The Nature: Justin Timberlake! Interesting move by Kweli, they create a nice collab. 3.5/5 Overall, Kweli's third solo album is nicely crafted. A huge problem that happens to a lot of lyrical wordsmiths, is that the production is too light and the track becomes dull. That happens more often than not here and Kweli works it well with his usual awesome lyricism. "Everything Man" is a great start to the album, "Jesus Walks" influenced "Hostile Gospel Pt. 1" works, as does the awesome south meets east "Country Cousins". "Eat To Live" is a little tiresome, but its still a decent cut, as "In The Mood"'s laid back party groove is nice. "Hot Thing" is the ladies track, as drum pumping "Listen!", smooth "Oh My Stars, and light "Soon The New Day" all work. "Give Em Hell" shines due to its wah wah production. "The Perfect Beat" is the only skipper, with its tiresome lyrics and boring production, there are some filler, but overall solid. Rating 8 out of 10

Excellent Rebound

It really is a shame when you are discovered by most people on someone else's song. This is the case with Talib Kweli, as most people heard of him in a Jay-Z line. Nonetheless, he has clearly established himself as one of hip-hop's finest lyricists. The problem with Quality and The Beautiful Struggle was that Kweli was trying too hard to make good crossover tracks instead of just doing what he does. On Eardrum, Kweli is finally able to find a happy medium. He retains his lyrical quality, but at the same time, appeals to the average fan with colloaborations from UGK, Kanye West, Will.I.Am, Nora Jones, KRS-One, Musiq Soulchild, and Justin Timberlake. These are the type of names that will attract the novice hip-hop listener. Here is my breakdown of each track: Everything Man- the first line is "they say you can't please everybody". Very fitting opening to the album. 4/5 Stars. NY Weather Report- this nice underlying beat really allows Kweli's lyrics to shine. 5/5 Stars. Hostile Gospel, Pt. 1- one of the album's finest. Really prepares you for Pt. 2. 5/5 Stars. Say Something- addresses his prescence in hip-hop. Includes vocals from Jean Grae. 4/5 Stars. Country Cousins- features UGK. Excellent track featuring probably the two most underrated MCs. 5/5 Stars. Holy Moly- probably a track you will skip. A weird song. 3/5 Stars. Eat to Live- some of Kweli's best lyrics. Talks about the struggle to survive. 5/5 Stars. In the Mood- features Kanye West and Roy Ayers. Kanye and Kweli both have fantastic verses and the chorus is really a standout. 5/5 Stars. Soon the New Day- features nice soothing vocals from Nora Jones. Very solid track. 4/5 Stars. Give 'Em Hell- features Lyfe Jennings. This beat really stands out. It meshes perfectly with Kweli and Lyfe Jennings on this song. 5/5 Stars. More or Less- very nice chorus from Dion. However, Kweli shines once again. 5/5 Stars. Stay Around- talks again about his prescence in hip-hop. Just an average track. 3/5 Stars. Hot Thing- features Will.I.Am. Very similar to Wil.I.Am's new single. This is one of those mainstream attempts that work out really nicely. Very catchy. 5/5 Stars. The Perfect Beat- features KRS-One. I was very excited about the prospect of these two together, but something does not add up. 3/5 Stars. Oh My Stars- features Musiq Soulchild. Very nice chorus from Musiq Soulchild and Kweli adds some nice verses. 4/5 Stars. Listen!- how many of you even knew that this was the album's first single? Another mainstream attempt that works pretty well. 4/5 Stars. Go With Us- just an average track. 3/5 Stars. Hostile Gospel, Pt. 2- very nice conclusion to part 1. 5/5 Stars. The Nature- features Justin Timberlake. A failed attempt at a mainstream hit. Kweli's verses are solid, but Timberlake doesn't deliver. 3/5 Stars. Top 5 Songs: 1)In the Mood 2)Country Cousins 3)Hot Thing 4)Hostile Gospel (Part 1 and 2) 5)NY Weather Report Final Thoughts: This is Talib Kweli's second best album, behind Reflection Eternal. I would feel confortable saying this is a borderline classic album. This summer has been all about real hip-hop with fantastic albums from Kweli, Common, and T.I.

That's What Hip-Hop Sounds Like

This is a good, solid album from one of the few truly talented poets in the game. It is so nice to finally hear some music that doesn't include what bling you've got, how many girls you've had, how many cars you drive or teaching us a new dance move. This is what rap should be, take a lesson.


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....
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Eardrum, Talib Kweli
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