Album: Talib Kweli

The Beautiful Struggle, RAWKUS
Click to follow
The Independent Culture

It says much about the topsy-turvy attitudes of hip hop that there is probably no greater barrier to a successful rap career than a decent middle-class upbringing, such as that enjoyed by Talib Kweli, son of college-professor parents. Like his friends Mos Def and Common - both of whom contribute to The Beautiful Struggle - Kweli goes right over the head of the average wannabe gang-banger; the fact that many black stations won't play his stuff means he's not heard enough by the inner-city audience which needs him the most. "My songs is psalms/ I'm spiritual when I'm lyrical", he claims in "Around My Way" - and what could be more of a downer, in the materialist world of rap, than discussions of spiritual matters? But Kweli's depictions of ghetto tribulations in tracks like "Work It Out" and "Ghetto Show" are as cogent and vivid as any in hip hop, nonetheless. Best of all is "Going Hard", in which he contrasts the plight of the foreign child labour that makes the sneakers and mines the gold and di

It says much about the topsy-turvy attitudes of hip hop that there is probably no greater barrier to a successful rap career than a decent middle-class upbringing, such as that enjoyed by Talib Kweli, son of college-professor parents. Like his friends Mos Def and Common - both of whom contribute to The Beautiful Struggle - Kweli goes right over the head of the average wannabe gang-banger; the fact that many black stations won't play his stuff means he's not heard enough by the inner-city audience which needs him the most. "My songs is psalms/ I'm spiritual when I'm lyrical", he claims in "Around My Way" - and what could be more of a downer, in the materialist world of rap, than discussions of spiritual matters? But Kweli's depictions of ghetto tribulations in tracks like "Work It Out" and "Ghetto Show" are as cogent and vivid as any in hip hop, nonetheless. Best of all is "Going Hard", in which he contrasts the plight of the foreign child labour that makes the sneakers and mines the gold and diamond bling, with halfwit gangstas who wear them. Kweli's embarrassed to be called a "political rapper", but the cap fits so well on tracks such as "We Got The Beat", with its mention of "soldiers dying in petroleum wars [who] think they're fighting for the holiest cause", that maybe he should just accept his role in the struggle.

Comments