Thursday, August 16, 2007

“If Skill Sold...

...then truth be told/I’d probably be/Lyrically Talib Kweli.” -- Jay-Z

There’s a decent article up at the Baltimore Sun about Talib Kweli’s new album, the long-long-long-awaited Eardrum, which finally drops this coming Tuesday. Kweli's a busy man (as the article makes clear), but this one of the more exciting releases of the year for me (I haven't hidden my feelings toward Kweli's music). I do have one qualm with the article, though:

He's one of hip-hop's most respected rhyme slingers, an earnest rapper whose attempts at commercial success (namely 2002's Quality and 2004's The Beautiful Struggle, both released by Geffen Records) were bloodless and clumsy. He went the independent route on his last release, 2005's solid but overlooked Right About Now.
Bloodless and clumsy? Ouch. 'Uneven', I'd agree to. 'Slightly frustrating because you know how great this guy can be', sure. I can even almost understand the 'clumsy' comment a bit...he tried some genre-bending on The Beautiful Struggle, and it didn't work out all that well. But bloodless? Really? That suggests passionless or aimless to me, and though Kweli himself admits in the article that when Geffen Records had no confidence in him, it rattled his own confidence, there were still far too many bright spots to earn a 'bloodless' adjective.

Look, the bottom line is, the best song of 2002 came from Kweli's Quality (the still breathtaking "Get By"), and the best song of 2004 came from The Beautiful Struggle (the smashing "Broken Glass"). He hasn't made the definitive Kweli album yet (maybe Eardrum will be it, maybe not), but his previous works have had far too many bright spots to earn the scorn that they've earned from fans and critics. Guess that's tough love, huh?

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