Artist: Talib Kweli
Album: Right About Now
Label: Sureshot / Koch
That’s right bitches, Talib Kweli. You now rocking with the best! The best! Yup, Dave Chappelle knows wussup, even if the majority of America doesn’t. Right About Now should quietly slip into your Ipod and stay on repeat for a while. With quality guest appearances and solid solo verses, Kweli delivers a solid effort that his core fans are sure to love, and his newer audience can truly appreciate.
Kweli takes a page out of Skillz’ book when he spits his best version of his career wrap over a sweet blend of African drums and guitar strings. If you didn’t know about Kweli’s journey through the music industry, this is a great starting point. The BK MC takes you through his career ups and downs and lets you know what his situation in the rap game is right about now. So if you didn’t know, now you do know.
Planet Asia and Phil The Agony stop through for an unlikely collaboration. But these intelligent lyricists come together to shine some light on the struggles black youths go through growing up with limited views on what is in store for them in the future. They each lend their personal charisma to the track and let the world know that there is more to them than drugs basketball and rap.
Crack the plastic case open and instead of letting your car radio gobble up the tasty hip hop flavored compact disc, take a moment to read the credits. Talib takes his time to pen out some interesting bits of music knowledge behind his thought process while recording these songs. Smart man he is. He knows that you can illegally download songs but this wonderful country’s brilliant college minds haven’t come up with a way to download and bootleg printed text. So if you want to know what Kweli has to say about his creative process you will just have to buy the album, what a concept. He lets us all know that “Fly the Knot” was originally supposed to feature KRS1. Instead, MF Doom, an unlikely co star, swung through and added his unique style to an upbeat, horn heavy, Fyre Dept. track. I know you’re thinking Doom and Kweli? Could it work? Kweli seemed to think so, he labeled it one of his favorite tracks.
Kweli’s brother from another mother stops through and when its all said and done, “Supreme, Supreme” will go down as one of the best Black Star tracks of all time. Well, I could be lying. These two always seem to elevate the game and outdo themselves. Charlemagne gets the credit for the production on this track and the high powered cinematic sound definitely allows for the beat to shine.
There are very few weak moments in the CD. Granted, it’s not Reflection Eternal, but Kweli molds his rhyme style to many of the new producers he is working with like Kareem Riggins and Keezo Kane, and he more than holds his own as one would expect. Unlike many of the MC’s in the rap game today, Talib Kweli shows he can pretty much flow over anybody’s beats.
“Two & Two” exposes Kweli’s softer side while at the same time delivering some poignant lyrics. Rhyme writer from 9 to 5 it’s a 25 to lifer with the balance of an acrobat on high wires, the pain of a slave with his back feelin’ like fire cuz the whip is talkin’ to his ass like night rider. Another Charlemagne produced track, “Ms. Hill”, may come across to some as Kweli’s love letter to Lauryn, but he makes it clear that he is simply showing his admiration for Ms. Hill’s creative prowess. He touches on her struggle with expressing herself at the BET awards, sends a strong message of respect, and lets her know that he understands her plight and looks forward to more material from a true hip hop queen.
Lyrical matrimony. That’s what Jean Grae and Kweli are on wax. Although the J. Cardim beat sounds eerily similar to the Dilla/9th Wonder track “Hiding Place” on Little Brother’s The Minstrel Show, “Where You Gonna Run” builds beautifully and the MC’s really shine on the soulful melody. Jean comically criticizes herself on the song when she tells the audience, Ten years deep, and my tenure’s still deep, may bad, I’m sorry I don’t like when phrases repeat. The duo will be doing tracks together for some time, so if you like what you hear, there’s more to come.
Right About Now sets the stage for more great hip hop to come from Kweli and his Black Smith camp. It shows his maturity and his confidence in what he is doing in the music industry and where he is headed in his own life, and hopefully it can bring some classic cuts to your ears.