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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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