The new, improved Talib Kweli

There was a time when Talib Kweli was the sober, preachy voice of reason in hip-hop, and that time was… ugh, a while ago.

Kweli has since grown tired of people expecting him to be the rapper who “takes a stance on the issues,” who “doesn’t do songs with artists who are an embarrassment to black people,” whose “name hasn’t become synonymous with Hennessy,” so on and so forth. The other day, he took to the Internets to respond to some kid who was extremely upset about a song he did with Gucci Mane. The kid went so far as to suggest that it signaled the demise of the conscious rapper.

I’d try to find the song in this site’s Bangers section, but I’m not sure if I could handle a song by Talib Kweli featuring Gucci Mane – not because my brain is stuck in 1998 (okay, it is), but because that sounds like it could be the worst song evar. I’m not one of these people, like my boy Tom Breihan, who can’t stand Talib Kweli. About once every six months I find myself wishing I knew where my copy of that Black Star album is, especially since I’ve become obsessed (in an A&E reality series sort of way) with Mos Def’s The Ecstatic. But I shudder to think how he may have switched his style up to better accommodate Gucci Mane. He’s not shouting BURR, is he? Presumably, they’re not rapping over something along the same lines as the beat from “Thieves in the Night.” I don’t even like the fact that he’s always wearing that silly baseball cap.

In retrospect, I suppose I should have seen all of this happening – the song with Gucci Mane, the wedding picture with the Hennessy bottle, the angry blog post shouting down his last Train of Thought-era fan – back when I sorta kinda met Talib Kweli. Long time readers of this site may recall that I went backstage at a Roots show back in 2006. It’s still about the closest I’ve come to meeting an actual, according to Hoyle celebrity in my career as a hip-hop journalist, if you count Questlove. He’s got a ridonkulous Twitter following, plus that job on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon as the Doc Gibbs-style genial black bandleader.

Talib Kweli was there for a minute, but he had to take off early, supposedly to take care of something having to do with the after party, but now I suspect that it may have been to get loaded on courvoisier and shoot a load at some groupie’s chin, not necessarily in that order. His girlfriend stayed behind, and I hesitate to say this, because I’m not sure if this is the same chick with whom he took money to pose with a bottle of Hennessy, at an event to celebrate the beginning of the rest of their lives together, but suffice it to say she didn’t look like the girlfriend of a guy who spends a lot of time burning incense and reading books by gay poets.

When KRS-One wanted to prove how conscious he was he went out and married Miss Melodie. The Smoking Section turned up a picture of the two of them, the other day, and I was taken aback. When I was a kid, I always thought of KRS-One as this old man, so of course he had a hideous wife. But he was probably way younger then than I am now. Never let it be said that KRS-One doesn’t live the life he sings about in his songs. Talib Kweli, on the other hand… Well, I guess he did have that song “Brown Skinned Lady.” We’ve yet to see him with a white chick (god forbid), like his partner in rhyme Mos Def. And I bet, if you go back and listen to that song, there’s nothing in it about how you should get with ugly women. That’s just where my mind went, because I’m racist against my own people.

It just goes to show these artists are a lot more complex than we ever realize. When Talib Kweli was talking about a brown skinned lady, he was talking about a women with a body like brick shithouse. When he put out an album called Liberation, he may have been talking about sexual liberation. The Train of Thought may have been Night Train, the popular bum wine. You think you know Talib Kweli, but you have no idea. Stop assuming shit about people.

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  • ri067953

    The funny thing is that if you listen to Talib’s verse, he is pretty much taking the title of the song and using it as a metaphor for people who are locked up in jail or lost in acts of violence. It’s not like T.K. and he is mumbling about fruity loop chains and shit. However, T.K. lost my repsect once I found out about his Hennessy sponsered wedding.

    I never really thought of Talib as conscious rapper, just somebody who took his life experince and put it into his lyrics but the whole title put on him by the media pigoned holed him.

    Bottom line, if you are going to do song with an LCD rapper, do it with somebody who is somewhat respected for their music, like maybe Ricky Ross the Boss???

  • $yk

    Bol went crazy with the sodium chloride…

  • Q461

    Talib is dope a real mc… gucci mane, not so much

  • fredMS

    yea mad ppl assume that conscious rappers are pussies and lcd rappers are niggnorant, but from what i’ve read and heard about rappers’ personal lives, it seems to be the opposite. all of j dilla’s rhymes are about hoes and ice but ppl think he was mad conscious. i remember stories of common banging mad bitches and like erykah badu got kids from 3 diff daddies (not exactly sure how many), meanwhile plies is a college graduate. i think sadat x been to jail like 3 or 4 times?

    all im saying is when ppl hear stats about blacks, they assume its always some niggardly shit, but that’s not always the case. I think as a society, we distance them in our heads as such, but in reality, kids from different fathers happen, people fall in and out of love. jail happens, even to men who are knowledgeable and responsible. The chris rock train of thought that there’s niggas and black ppl is definitely flawed, because after all we are all somewhat ignorant about something.

    • Deadly MIME

      Well thats true. But at the same time I find out about these rappers that aren’t as dumb and stupid as they portray themselves, but I wonder then why are they doing the shit they doin? And your right some so-called conscious rappers does and say bad shit. At this point in my life and far as rap I dont care what rappers I love do anymore cause its all fucked up anyways. I just don’t pay attention to it;although, sometimes it does makes me upset.

  • Sha

    Talib Kweli got wrongfully pinned as the “Conscious Rapper”. But to me, he was always a gutter battle MC that just happened to be intelligent. Kind of in the same vein as KRS-One (minus the glaring contradictions).

    BOL is kind of an ass for this one. For every KRS-One there has always been a 2 Live Crew or Kid-N-Play…. The yin and Yang….

    I didn’t hire Kweli to be my teacher…. And I damn sure don’t have to feed his kids and live with his responsibilities.


  • Lowedwn

    Kweli will always get props from me if for nothing else, the song “Manifesto”.

    But a collab w/ Gucci…wouldn’t even listen once in a lifetime, let alone twice.

  • Saratoga N. Blake

    good observations by FredMS except he forgot to mention Dilla ** SUCKED ** as an mc. I won’t quite say he was Termanology awful, because he didn’t dedicate himself like that but still… still.

    bottom line is Talib is HIGHLY inconsistent as an mc, sometimes dope, sometimes lousy, with very little charisma so he throws shit again the wall from time to time to see what happens.


  • Stan-Layy

    I just listened to the song and i have a question. Did Gucci and Talib have a meeting, come up with a concept for a song, go in the studio together and get it in????…Or did Talib just send a verse to Gucci and let the engineer do the rest. To me these choices can make a huge difference in a collabo

    • $yk

      Gucci hollered @ Talib to get on the track.

      • Stan-Layy

        What I mean is did these guys record this track in the studio together or did they just mail verses

  • yoprince

    this was great.

    also, kweli fell off a while ago. he was always best playing robin to mos def’s batman anyway.

    completely off topic… i just heard this joint by lil b called the world’s ending. i’m officially taking him seriously. the second verse on there is a hip-hop quotable.

    not to mention, t-shirt & buddens >>>>

  • yunggee

    fuck outa here wit lil b itch….. talib never fell off. kweli made money off dat shit wit gucci.. i mean i wouldn’t listen cuz its gucci.. but talib makes a living off dis music shit. if a nigga gon offer u money to get on da track u gon do it. especially gucci.. he got money .. he prob gave kweli more stacks then a reg undaground nigga wud. now if it was talib featuring gucci i wud’ve prob lost respect for em.. but talib a smart dude n he a lyrical legend .. he know whut he was doing.. off topic dat nigga lil b really calls himself a pretty bitch??? woww

  • Avenger XL

    Its the age of the collabo people what do you expect? People are attempting to cross markets with their respective brands to gain more interest in their music. This is a business people even though I think it would take a brillant producer to make a relevant Gucci/Talib collabo (note I mean producer not beat maker) and I am sure this is some phone call jump on a track type shit, not well well thought out concept shit.

    So calm down folks Talib will continue doing so-called conscious music and Gucci will continue cashing in on his LCD royalty status until he is replaced by the next flavor of the month in the LCD rap world because LCD rappers can’t go pass 30 unless they are lying about their age ask JUVE,BG,pastor troy and all of the previous LCD rap lords forced back to independent life due to their career being done at 25-27. While Talib can play his cards as long as it is profitable because he tends to write about real life and human emotion, which has beatiful points and ugly points. But at the end of the day all men want to get the hot chicks and in a capitalist society they are going to be chasing paper. They may do it differently and with a different message but it all plays out similar.


    our society is messed up so of course hip hop is. I don’t like the lines that get drawn in hip hop. I don’t think talib has nothing to prove. he has said on several occassions that he is a fan of hip hop…all hip hop…he dislikes the industry and how certain songs get played.

    talib is not a concious rapper but he gets lumped into the group. its very few truly concious rappers. talib just spits hard, he is a bragadoucious rapper, and he talks about more than money cash hoes YET he will use them in his lines. its how he does it tho. blogs like this only add to the problem. its one thing to be a critic and another to destory hip hop.

    Gucci does talk about money cash hoes BUT gucci still can rhyme. I’m not saying i’m a gucci fan but you have to give him credit for spittin. if he changed up his subject matter people would like him more.

    keeping hip hop in a box is not the way to go.

  • Chiliz

    U don’t necessary have 2 live what u rap about.

    1 must b’ willing 2 embrace other types of music as long as the beat ,lyrics,storyline,flow are on point & he makes us LISTEN…………….!!!!

  • kps

    termanolgy sucks as an mc whoa… wtf?! no… period. and dilla, yes he was just talking shit but he was a dope rapper, just listen to fantastic vol 1. AND kweli has always been better than mos…

  • MP

    this post was a mess, more so than usual. “Poltergeist” is a great, unexpected track. and no mention of the recent RPM album?

  • geico lizard

    You will be proud to know that Talib is rumored to have cheated on his wife. All those Rafael Sadeeq,Dre 3000,Common incense burners talk about black love and black power but never get married or if they do get married they just bang chicks on the side like they are single.

  • Selfish Gene

    Every rapper is conscious, or they’d be unconscious– kinda dead.

    Nothing these (w)*rappers do surprises me anymore. Talib signed with Jimmy’s slaveboat and lost his “knowledge of self”. I had the misfortune of attending Talib’s show here in London, it was truly atrocious. We jus’ got drunk and shouted Blackstar lyrics in between his tracks.


  • !ll

    Back in the day (Black Star-Quality) Talib could match anyone in the hip hop game lyrically. Nowadays though, hes just above average.

    Hes probably trying to break out of this box we put him in, but I doubt it will work. If anything it will turn his existing fanbase turn their heads.


    what does talib’s lyrics have to do with cheating on his wife? Men cheat. You can still wish the best and make mistakes. Talib is not trying to sell out, he is still as lyrical. When talib linked with kayne he had the most commerical success. He can easily do that. Talib spits for a certain group and makes music for another.

  • Bol’s #1 Fan Stan

    Bol, i heard the track, and naturally Kweli boddied Gucci on that shit. dont know why he did the track tho, considering he’s always preaching about ignorance. must need some money.

  • xoxoxox

    He does cheat and he has been with a white women….I know this for a fact as I am a white woman that he slept with when he was engaged.

  • yunggee

    just shoot urself.. termanology tribute 2 j dilla was da shit he killed every track.. n talib isn’t inconsistant.. u jus into dat bullshit.. once again shoot urself…..