In contrast to so many rappers today who pride themselves on 'going dumb' and acting 'ignant,' Brooklyn emcee Talib Kweli prides himself on staying smart, both in his life (along with Mos Def he owns an independent, non-profit black bookstore in Brooklyn) and through his refreshingly conscious music that harks back to the golden age of hip-hop, when saying something positive was as important as a laying down a catchy hook for the radio and dancefloor. It is no coincidence that "Kweli" in Swahili means "true," since the artist is 100% true to hip-hop as a positive black art form meant to uplift rather than dumb-down the masses.
Like his longtime collaborators and old Rawkus pals Mos Def and Hi-Tek, Talib Kweli has always stayed true to hip-hop's roots and yet has managed to stay current and vital. Personally, I think he is one of the few contemporary artists making hip-hop that is worth a damn and when I first got his 2006 single "Listen" (off his new album Ear Drum), it just got stuck both in my head and on my turntable for weeks on end. It is the way hip-hop should be: good track and hook with lyrics that actually say something. Check out the video for "Listen" below. But later today (Monday August 20th) if you are in the Los Angeles area you can probably see/hear him perform it live if you check out his Hollywood Amoeba Music instore. It starts at 6PM, but get there early to jockey a good position. And if, like me, you will not be in SoCal, take advantage of the live streaming of his instore via our website, also scheduled to start at 6PM Pacific Standard Time.