Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Talib Kweli [extended]

  • Reflection Eternal [Rawkus, 2000] **
  • Quality [Rawkus, 2002] Dud
  • The Beautiful Struggle [Rawkus, 2004] *
  • Ear Drum [Warner Bros., 2007]
  • Radio Silence [3D, 2017] **

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Consumer Guide Reviews:

Talib Kweli & Hi Tek: Reflection Eternal [Rawkus, 2000]
"Anybody can tell you how it is/What we puttin' down right here, this is how it is, and how it could be" ("Eternalists," "For Women"). **

Quality [Rawkus, 2002] Dud

The Beautiful Struggle [Rawkus, 2004]
Maybe it's beautiful to mention Sierra Leone and build chart cred on the same record, maybe just impossible ("Around My Way," "Going Hard"). *

Ear Drum [Warner Bros., 2007]
Talib Kweli earns the respect he gets. He's got plenty of brains and enough flow, and though his attempts to make conscious rap commercial inspire purist sniping, he's balanced the two with integrity and grace. But four solo albums in, it can't be an accident that he's done his signature work with collaborators--Mos Def (Black Star), Hi-Tek (Reflection Eternal), and many, many cameos (try the Coup's "My Favorite Mutiny"). The man simply lacks spark. Kweli's Warner debut features yet more cameos--Kanye! Norah Jones! UGK!--and many, many producers. Though it's admirably consistent and pretty darn OK, it lacks a knockout track to counterbalance the complaints about the King James Bible and swine toothpaste. Closest is one to his kids, with Musiq Soulchild adding music and soul, child. Right after, "Listen!!!" establishes its right to bang on your title orifice. But then there's Justin Timberlake's bonus cut. JT--eschew philosophy! You sing, therefore you are. [Rolling Stone: 3]

Radio Silence [3D, 2017]
More woke than you, more skilled than you, and doing OK in the paper department too, he proves all these things yet again without getting his music around the crisis he knows his people and his country face ("She's My Hero," "Knockturnal") **

See Also