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Monday, June 25, 2007

A Lil' Late But What the Hell: Talib Kweli-Eardrum Review

In today’s rap terrain, it’s becoming more and more difficult to support the music.
While a handful of bright emcees make you feel proud to be apart of this culture, a swarm of others make you want to shun it. Talib Kweli is apart of the elite that reside in the first group. It’s been a long journey since the Blackstar album, and it seems Talib has been getting closer and closer to finding his niche with each solo effort. On Eardrum, Talib’s plan seems to be simple, just do him.

Talib’s Eardrum offers a plentitude of variety. “Soon a New Day” puts together an unsuspected enjoyable collaborative effort meshing host, Talib, Norah Jones and Madlib (on the production tip). In this track, Talib attempts to enlighten those promiscuous club dwelling women and tries to empower them preaching self-love while Norah Jones’ harmonious crooning fills the hook. Talib’s personality as a promoter of progress allows him to pull this collaboration off nicely and he does so with positive quotes like “maybe they should realize their own beauty/baby you a star/not just a star in some dude’s home movies.” The produced “Hot Thing,” hints at a more devious intent. This track describes the curves of voluptuous women in the first verse, their varying styles (country girl/city chick) in the second and the effect they have on the author of this track in the third. “Hot Thing” has strong single potential because of its soulful handclaps and quicker tempo which is suitable for the club or a club-like environ. It doesn’t have the feel of a forced club banger either. It comes off as natural. Another track that has club potential and assuredly directed to the ladies is “In the Mood.” Kanye West lends his aid on this track in which Talib attempts describe seducing women in the club and getting directly to the point if you know what I mean. Kanye and Talib show great chemistry on this one as Kanye’s beat provides the mood and feel of a late night in a steamy nightclub while Talib’s words complete the cipher with frank and direct lyrics.

Talib also delivers the substance he’s known for providing on the “Hostile Gospel” with some insightful social commentary. He rhymes about the current state of the minstrel show/rap saying “Hip Hop the new W-W-F/do you rap or do you wrestle/niggas love to forget.” Later in the track he address identity issues (black kids wishing they were white and vice versa), the defunct healthcare system, and myriad other issues. Just Blaze lays down the track with hints of the organ and heavy piano strokes to actually make you feel like you’re at the tabernacle. On “Eat to Live,” a concept track, Talib proffers a narrative about a youngster walking the city blocks with an empty stomach because of his poverty. The initial verse seems to hint at empowering black youth so they stand a fighting chance in society. In the latter verse, he mentions the African plight in relation to food shortage and how we (Americans) have more than enough but our food is tainted in a variety of ways. Talib even takes it to a new place on “Country Cousins” featuring UGK. On this track, Talib explores his perspective of the South as a youth and how his perspective expanded from a shortsighted/NY-centric point of view to a more enlightened view of rap and Hip Hop from other regions while Bun B and Pimp C each respectively big up other regions in their stanza. I think “Everything Man” encapsulates the album in one track. The intent of the track is seemingly simple. He’s admitting his limits and that he can’t be everything to everyone, all he can do is do him; a fitting summary of this album.

Talib Kweli’s Eardrum is a mature effort that shows substantial growth. It’s a well balanced LP showing equal parts of Kweli’s character. There’s carnal tracks about seducing women; tracks that empower women with self affirmation messages; tracks that comment on society; tracks that are very personal to Kweli where he talks about his family life. There’s a track for every mood on this album. Earlier I mentioned Kweli would attempt to find his niche on this album and he does just that. The album feels seamless at times. It’s very apparent by the list of producers, lyrics and subject content that there was a lot of attention put into the details of this album which is why it’s so damn good. This album could very well be one of those albums where a different cat could pick any one of the tracks to be his favorite. This is Hip Hop music at its finest and if you enjoy the above, then cop this.

1 comment:

ron art said...

sadly, the masses "seem" to wanna hear bullshit like "wipe me down" and "aya bay bay"