Thursday, January 06, 2005

Talib Kweli - Quality Album Review

This shit's being triple-launched here, at eopinions and at pella.tk.

"Yeah turn this shit up, it's Quality music..."

Author's Product Rating: 5 Stars

Pros
Beats, lyrics, guests, etc. etc.

Cons
None

The Bottom Line
5 Stars - Buy this NOW!

Talib Kweli, after dropping 2 classic albums as part of the rap duos Blackstar and Reflection Eternal, drops his solo debut, aptly titled "Quality". The album strays from "pure hip-hop" on more than one occasion, which is refreshing. The guests are plentiful, but they usually dont take up much mic time. Anyway, lets get into it.

01 - Keynote Speaker (feat. Dave Chapelle) (NR)
A basic spoken word intro. Mildly funny...but thats not what youre here for, right?

02 - Rush (feat. Xzibit) 5 Stars
This is a hard track, with trumpets, synth sounds, a hard hitting bassline, and electric guitars. Xzibit would sound nice over it, but unfourtuneately he only does a short vocal drop. Kweli is in "battle mode" on this track, the perfect complement to the war-ish instrumental.

03 - Get By 5 Stars
A classic track. An upbeat piano, light guitar and violins are featured here, and this might be the best Kanye West beat ever (ban him tho). Talib goes to street poetry, and the soul/r'n'b-influenced hook is really memorable. Again Kweli goes the extra mile on wordplay. Classic track.

04 - Shock Body (feat. Stephanie McKay & Tiffany Phinazee) 5 Stars
Featuring 2 uknowns on the hook who have angelic (not kidding) voices, a fast instrumental with all kinds of sounds including trumpets and synths, and just AMAZING lyricsism by Kweli.
"Watch how Talib Kweli Greene do it
What I bring to it
You hear the theme music
My rhymes' life support, dawg breathe to it
Rhymes are bright, the sunshine beams through it
Stop haters in their tracks like high beams
Like the moment you was at the crime scene screaming "I ain't do it"
But, I seen through it, it's obscene how I spew it
Martin Luther King had a dream to it, people cling to it
I seen your momma lean to it in a green Buick
Wack n*ggas get passed over so much they seem Jewish
Better leave and do it now or seem foolish
This music I bleed to it, I raise my seeds to it
I stay hungry like I'm the newest in the game,
I MC with the truest in the game,
And stay hot like I'm bluish with the flame
You heard the truth when it came
And you knew it was the name that you couldn't pronounce
Now I'm all up in your mouth
"

05 - Gun Music (feat. Cocoa Brovaz) 5 Stars
A reggae-influenced track, featuring electric guitars and all kinds of crazy shit, but it works SO WELL. The lyrics are about guns, but it goes deeper than that. For example he says:
"You know who killing it, saying they militant
The only blood in the street is when the government spilling it
"

06 - Waitin' For The DJ (feat. Bilal) 4.5 Stars
Bilal gives a funky hook, and the lead single is VERY ill. Kweli might dip from the last few tracks, but he was at "classic" and now he's on "near-classic". The beat is good, mixing strings and synths and claps and all types of instrumentation which makes this a very diverse and interesting beat.

07 - Joy (feat. Mos Def) 4.5 Stars
Yeah, Mos doesn't rap, but this song is still WAY ill. Its about the joy of children being born. I LOVE the lyricism...tho the beat couldve been better. It's soul-inspired, but the Kanye-like vocalizing can get irritating after a few listens (like all Kanye-like beats). And it's not just about his children being born, its also about parenting and jail and violent children. Introspection, consciousness, and storytelling...like I said, WAY ill.

08 - Talk To You (Lil' Darlin') (feat. Bilal) 5 Stars
A soft R&B song, Kweli's lyrics are directed at that special woman, and damn, I can't speak for all females, but I'd say that you would all MELT with the lyrics. Damn. It's only 1 verse and then Bilal sings it, but its a very tight song. The instrumentation is un-like hip-hop, but I mean that in a good way. The drums aren't pounding, their just hi-hats mostly. Its refreshing. Very nice.

09 - Guerilla Monsoon Rap (feat. Black Thought, Pharaohe Monch & Kanye West) 5 Stars
Kanye drops a beat with an ILL violin loop, and does the hook. Thought, Monch, and Kanye drop a verse each twice, and they ALL come nicely. Kweli's first verse is especially nice:

"Kweli -- spruce to the tree, Bruce to the Lee
The real emcee, that your favorite rapper used to be
One by one I knock 'em out like Schoolly D - my rhymes is eulogy
A flea could move a tree, before ya think ya movin me
I black and blue emcees - actin new to me, get smacked stupidly
That lack skills, like the black community lack unity (uh)
Still my rhymes heard like Ali DePhrase
Step off the stage to shouts of 'Kweli boomayyay!!'
"

Although Monch's second verse is memorable also:

"Guerrilla monsoon rap, smell the fumes, get in tune wit it
When I attack your city, y'all gon' think Dr. Doom did it
Spit it like white trash in seed-spit contests
With a vendetta that sent a betta letter bomb to Congress
I'm pissed - cumulus clouds of ominous
Words of the Thor, the rawness that'll restore ya calmness
Unless, you wanna be leg and armless
That's parapaleg' for those who believe in bomb threats, ha
"

10 - Put It In The Air (feat. DJ Quik) 5 Stars
This beat is LEGENDARY. Quik has been so-so as of late, but this is NICE. The guitar loop is AMAZING and the flute samples are nice also. Kweli & Quik's voices sound perfect with the beat, and Kweli's lyrics are as ill as the beat:

"My lyrics like drugs got you "hooked on my phonics"
From Brooklyn to Compton the lounge of Soundbombing
Still rockin' over 'Balance and Options,' now
"
[...]
"I draw blood like mosquitos y'all annoy like gnats
Pop that around the wrong cat get laid flat
Concrete adjust to the contours in your back
Quik where you at?
"

11 - The Proud 5 Stars
CLASSIC. About pivotal points in America's history. That's all I'm saying. Buy this album NOW.

12 - Where Do We Go (feat. Res) 5 Stars
Res could be my favorite singer. That hook is so saddening...in a non-emo way, of course. The light guitar, viloin and piano plus the chorus vocalizing in the background make this incredibly apt for Kweli's sad lyrics. Kweli's delivery is again, perfect, much lighter. The instrumentation is incredibly refreshing, and the lyricism is top notch.

13 - Stand To The Side (feat. Novel & Vinia Mojica) 4.5 Stars
The bass, the piano, the strings, the loud snare...it works, just not as much as other songs. That's why I take off 1/2 a star. The singing by relative unknowns Novel & Mojica is worth noting. The lyrics.....damn. They are just too good. The similies and wordplay...wow.

14 - Good To You 4.5 Stars
This beat is amazing. Guitar, with strings, and samples on the hook allow Kweli to spit that stuff that isnt commercial nor underground, its true, to paraphrase Kweli. Kweli's social consciousness and battle rapping merge perfectly, and this makes another standout cut.

15 - Won't You Stay (feat. Kendra Ross) 4.5 Stars
The hook, provided by Kendra Ross, is really good. The ocean sound effects, the piano, the trumpet create a light feel that accentuates Kweli's lyrics, which center around love. But real love, not that forced bullshit like 21 Questions by 50 Cent. This shows in the descisively more honest lyrics.

OVERALL
A classic. Kweli shed Mos Def or Hi-Tek, and his solo debut takes the route Kweli wants it to. This leads too much more personal songs, such as "Joy" or "Won't You Stay". Kweli also does songs that are much less straight hip-hop and influenced by rock, soul, r&b, reggae, and so on.


Recommended
Yes

Great Music to Play While: Listening

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