Ever since it burst onto the cultural radar, hip-hop music has been constantly reincarnated in a veritable surfeit of unique styles. There were the old-school pioneers who introduced hip hop not merely as a musical genre, but as a very lifestyle itself – an artistic and political message undergirded with a sweet beat.

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As it progressed, hip hop branched off into “music for your set.” At this point, it was regionally split mainly into East Coast and West Coast, joined later by the Midwest and Dirty South. Despite differences in today’s hip hop, there are still those MCs who rap for change, political awareness and artistic relief. Among these lyrical geniuses stands Talib Kweli, a Brooklyn rapper not looking for fame or fortune but rather the chance to have his voice heard.

Right About Now is the new mix-tape, with songs Kweli said he “made for (himself), but once they become available for commercial sale, they belong to the people.” Kweli is mostly known for the albums he made with Black Star, in which he teamed up with Mos Def and DJ Hi-Tek. His first solo album, Quality, was called a classic, but wasn’t commercial enough to sell millions. The follow up, The Beautiful Struggle, was some of his best work, but it too failed to take off. If lyrical skills sold records, many say he’d be one of the top sellers – but in the music world, not many seem to appreciate his style.

On Right About Now, Kweli continues to deliver messages with the help of other overlooked artists such as Papoose, MF Doom and Planet Asia and producer Superstar Dave Dar. He continues to prove that lyrical dexterity is his specialty and showcases a singular ability to make people think while still putting their hands up.

The mix tape is full of the uplifting dialogue and insightful lines that made Kweli famous. He keeps his previous ties alive by featuring a song with Mos Def and dedicates a song (“Ms. Hill”) to Lauryn Hill. In the song, he explains that there are no words to express how much he loves her music and powerful voice. Kweli also takes the time to explain his songs in the CD’s liner notes, giving background on songs that almost didn’t make it or were once going to be featured on other albums.

Right About Now is, put simply, a compilation of some of Kweli’s best work. Its lyrics are electric and its production is enough to get you nodding your head to the beat. It’s the same fantastic flow with new material, the same Talib Kweli – with a “Free Lil’ Kim” shout-out at the end.

 

Talib Kweli

Right About Now

Koch

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