“If skills sold, truth be told, I’d probably be lyrically Talib Kweli.”
– Jay Z
The first time I heard Talib Kweli was when Black Star dropped, and I can remember thinking that Mos Def was LIGHT YEARS ahead of this dude. But one of my peoples Sha swore up and down that it was the complete opposite.
And of course I thought he was on crack.
It wouldn’t be until Reflection Eternal dropped their debut for me to realized how dope Kweli was. That’s when I could understand what Sha was talking about. This dude was a lyrical problem, and as a group, Reflection Eternal had that GangStarr and Pete Rock and CL Smooth magic going on. But right after Kweli dropped another classic album with his group, just like with Black Star, they went on a hiatus. Kweli wasn’t a slouch while Mos caught the acting bug, and Tek got down with Dre’s Aftermath camp cause he’s now up to his fourth studio album. My only beef with a lot of Kweli’s discography is outside of his debut solo album “Quality” is that I always felt like the bulk of Kweli’s beats never fit him just right. He’s has that type of style that doesn’t sound right over every track and I can’t really explain it but those 2000 Hi Tek beats and those 2002 Kanye beats and ANY beat from the late, great J Dilla seem to fit Kweli perfect.
Now, with all of that said, how does his newest release “Gutter Rainbows” fit in this equation? Good question.
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Gutter Rainbows sets off lovely with the title track produced by M-Phazes and “So Low” produced by Shuko which are both real dope. “Palookas” with Sean Price has Kweli and Sean P. going in on this ill Marco Polo produced track, while “Wait For You” with Kendra Ross produced by S1 gives you that real dope cool out vibe. “Friends and Family” produced by E. Jones is a dope song that has Kweli talking about him coming up in the music game and shouting out all of his fam but the chorus just kills the whole vibe for me. “Uh Oh” with Jean Grae is just flat out stupid with Jean MURDERING this Oh No track but “Gutter Rainbow’s” shinning star is EASILY the album’s 1st single “Cold Rain” produced by Ski Beatz.
At the end of the Day, Kweli reminds me of my dude Andre Iguodala who plays for the Sixers. Igs is an extremely dope ball player but in my opinion will never really showcase his full potential cause he’s playing in a system that doesn’t his style. Now put Igs out in Phoenix or in a D’Antonio up tempo type system and this dude could be an all star every year but while he’s stuck playing in the Sixer’s halfcourt offense, he’ll always just be known as the other A.I. in Philly. I feel like Kweli is an ILL mc but for some reasons it seems like a lot of the beats he picks don’t really compliment him. And it’s not that all of these tracks don’t fit him or that they’re wack but I look at Kweli as that special brand of mc who has the talent to bang out classic after classic and in my opinion he hasn’t done that and it’s not the rhymes’s fault. But don’t get it twisted Gutter Rainbows is a dope listen and if you’re a Kweli fan, you’ll mos def dig it, but for me, it just falls short of what I was expecting this time around from Kweli.
3.5 outta 5