Talib Kweli Speaks on Upcoming Album, Gutter Rainbows

Earlier this morning (September 20), Talib Kweli announced via his Twitter account that he’s getting ready to release a new album, Gutter Rainbows. Currently just four months removed from the May release of Revolutions Per Minute, his album with Hi-Tek as Reflection Eternal, the BK MC spoke with XXLMag.com to give details on his upcoming solo project.

“I don’t have a [release] date, per se,” explained Kweli, who began seriously writing and recording for the album in August and says it will come out before Christmas. “I’m not on a label right now and it’s exciting to just be like, ‘You know what, I’m just gonna put this out.’ And I’ve don’t that before—I put out Liberation with Madlib and I didn’t even tell anybody; one day it was not out, and the next day it was [and] like 100,000 people downloaded that for free.” Gutter Rainbows, however, unlike Liberation, will be an album for purchase, likely for around $10, according to Kweli. Production credits for the release will include Hi Tek, Ski Beatz, M-Phazes, E. Jones and Symbolyc One.

“With Blacksmith, we’ve had deals with Warner Brothers and deals with Koch before, but I wanted to experiment with just putting something out on my own, and just seeing what my worth really is to the fans,” he continued.

Known as a voracious reader, Talib explained that the title was a combination of a reference to J.D. Salinger’s novel The Catcher in the Rye and an idea that he had previously been kicking around in his head.

“I read The Catcher In The Rye when I was in Europe a few months ago and I didn’t really enjoy, but one thing that I took from it was that reference,” he recalled. “The character actually says ‘gasoline rainbows’ in the book. I was like, ‘Wow.’ I’ve always wanted to call a song ‘Gutter Rainbows’—just because of the rainbows that you see when the oil and the water mix in the gutter—and do a song based on that. I just remember being a little kid and finding beauty in that, and how you have to find beauty in stuff like that when you in the hood. But that reference—him noticing the gasoline rainbows in New York City, and just the character’s love for New York City—are what attracted to me to that phrase. Somebody else got it, so it made me feel like it was more than just a song. Maybe it was an album.”

“This is the first time in my career since I’ve been known to rap where I haven’t been attached to any sort of major label,” Talib said, acknowledging he’s taking a risk doing it all on his own, but assuring he’s ready for the challenge. There’s no one to say, ‘You can’t put it out because you have a contract with us.’ But, at the same time, there’s no one to distribute it on a major level. Who knows what it’s gonna end up being.”

There had been previous reports that Kweli’s next solo effort would be entitled Prisoner of Consciousness; however, Gutter Rainbows will indeed come first. Still, Kwe does plan to drop that project in the near future, as well. “I have some deals on the table [for Prisoner of Consciousness],” he disclosed. “This project is sort of an offshoot of Prisoner of Consciousness. Prisoner of Consciousness I want to be more of a departure from what people might be used to hearing from me; so, with that, I really want to take my time on it. But, at the same time, in order to maintain relevance in the marketplace, I feel like people need to hear from me.”

Within the next month, Talib will be releasing Community Mixtape, with roughly twenty tracks that were submitted by fans and artists from around the world and compiled into a cohesive project. —Adam Fleischer