Talib Kweli Pot Of Gold

Talib Kweli doesn’t understand the word “complacency.” Over the past 16 years, the Brooklyn lyricist has compiled a nine-album catalog littered with visceral wordplay and seminal offerings while never relinquishing his uncompromising message. He’s worked with just about every artist and producer this side of Outkast, tangoed with the major labels and forged his own record company, Blacksmith Records (along with his manager, Corey Smyth), seizing control of his career. And all the while, he keeps making music, never tossing out proclamations of retirement. He keeps it moving forward, never flinching in the face of complacency.

Approaching the release of his tenth project, Gutter Rainbows, HipHopDX conducted two telephone interviews with Talib Kweli, discussing his career legacy, his “big homie” status and recording Black Star tracks at MC Hammer’s house.

HipHopDX: You’re a veteran. You’re one of the cats that newer rappers aspire to be. It’s always been that way from a talent standpoint, from a skills standpoint. But from a legacy standpoint now, there aren’t many artists that have the resume that you have, that have been able to last and transition as well as you have while Hip Hop was changing, while technology was changing, while the culture was changing. After 16 years and nine albums, what still surprises you about Hip Hop?

Talib Kweli: The unification of [Hip Hop]. The idea that Hip Hop was the first truly multicultural thing I’ve ever seen. The word multicultural sounds corny because our parent’s generation tried to implement it through the school system and it was done in a way where -- even though they had some of the best intentions -- in a way that seemed forced. And Hip Hop is multicultural by it’s nature. Fred The Godson, he has a song called “Up To Us” where he names a bunch of artists from Wale to Jay Electronica to Trae Tha Truth to Asher Roth. And back when I came out, you would go to the Village and meet emcees from Queens, Brooklyn, The Bronx, wherever and there would be different styles in the city. But the idea that this new young emcee could name check emcee’s from all over the world is a great thing, and emcees from different backgrounds, different styles is a great thing. The boom in the music industry where everybody was making millions of dollars is gone but that spirit of Hip Hop is still there.


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