Talent Attracts Talent: A Look at Talib Kweli Collaborations

Talib-Kweli

One of the greatest parts of Hip-Hop is the emphasis on collaborating and putting multiple artists on a single track.  There are plenty of classic jams throughout Hip-Hop history built on this idea, and one thing’s for sure: Talib Kweli is really good at being involved with them.  Either being recruited, or starting them himself.

Lyricists appreciate other good lyricists, usually out of plain love for the music.  Studying the game and recognizing other good musicians is just as important as making the music yourself.  Being surrounded by talent makes Talib easy to recognize, as he’s frequent collaborators with Mos Def, The Roots, Lauryn Hill, and Common, to name a few.  The collaborative album Black Star with Mos Def is an album that has been specially preserved in the gallery of Hip-Hop history. Their names were arguably the biggest on Rawkus Records in the late 90s.  Impressive legacy, to say the least.

Today, I’m going to look at three especially impressive tracks, including one recent track that might be the best Talib collaboration yet.

Talib Kweli – Guerilla Monsoon Rap ft. Black Thought, Kanye West, and Pharoahe Monch

“Get By” is what really propelled Quality into classic record territory, but it would be foolish to pass up on this posse cut gem in the middle of the album.  The most underrated MC of all time (Black Thought), the syllable king (Pharoahe Monch), the creatively mad genius (Kanye West), and Talib all on one track? Quite an impressive feature list for the first solo album of your career.

To be completely fair, Kanye doesn’t have a verse, but he does provide the beat and the hook.  All these guys go in, as per usual.

Reflection Eternal (Talib Kweli & DJ Hi-Tek) – Just Begun ft. Jay Electronica, Mos Def, and J. Cole

The coolest part about this collaboration is the snapshot of where both Jay Electronica and J. Cole were in their respective careers.  Jay Electronica had his infamous signing to Roc-A-Fella Records that very same year, and the Hip-Hop community was swept up in his mystique.  With no legit album (and a constant promise of an approaching project), people wanted to hear more and more.  A lot of fans were dying to hear more and more music.

J. Cole’s position was quite different at this time.  During his Friday Night Lights era, he was definitely not getting the same respect he gets nowadays, post-Sideline Story.  One thing I’ve always respected majorly about Cole is his ability to write poetically.  The guy’s been doing it his whole career, and the verse on this is no exception.

You can tell on this track that all of these artists knew what was at stake.  A Jay Electronica appearance was a huge boost to the importance of the track, raising the bar for what needed to be written among all four rappers.

Talib Kweli, Elzhi, and Phonte – No Competition (prod. by Khrysis)

“No Competition” is a gift to Hip-Hop heads across the world.  All three of these rappers have been praised individually for their lyrical prowess and songwriting in general.  It’s impressive that all of them are still doing it as well as always to this day.  It all comes together over nice production by a rising star in the Hip-Hop game, Khrysis.

This cut is on the album Jamla Is The Squad, which just released on January 28th.  Be sure to check it out.

-Ronzo

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Monday Grooves

black_on_both_sides

As another week passes by, another three jams come your way courtesy of Monday Grooves.

This week is going to be a good one, I can feel it.  Weather is lightening up a bit, and summer is beginning to wind down.  As the time passes, though, we inch closer to the next biggest release.  Hip-Hop is in great shape, and innovative young artists continue to prove it.

This week, we have 3 classic headbangers.  Keep these songs in rotation and I guarantee you’ll have a good week as well.

 

Mos Def – Do it Now ft. Busta Rhymes

The raw energy and groove that “Do it Now” brings is perfect for the average party scene, or if you want to show off a dope track to some of your less-informed buddies. 

Black on Both Sides is an incredible album, and was one of the first to bring me into the Hip-Hop landscape.  Mos Def may not be the most jaw-dropping MC, but throughout his entire career he’s continued to provide deep material and clever wordplay.  His voice has been powerful throughout the industry for quite a long time.

 

2Pac – Old School

The subject matter of reminiscing on the old days of Hip-Hop is not exactly a very scarce idea throughout the industry, many artists have done the same. It’s hard to say that there’s one better than this classic.

In one of my favorite 2Pac songs, he breaks down what artists influenced him and his style.  Me Against the World is a very Eastern influenced album from a notorious West Coast-affiliated artist.  Much of Hip-Hop began on the East Coast (New York specifically), which then spread throughout the rest of the country.  Pac gives us a list of his favorites, including a lot of the original East Coast artists, with the raw emotion that only he could give us.

 

Common – I Used to Love H.E.R.

Along down the road, this song shall always be remembered as one of the major influences to adding story twists and symbolism into the genre.  The technique has been worked with for quite a long time since, as this song was released in 1994.

In this take on the technique, Common compares Hip-Hop to a former lover, and the ups and downs of a relationship.  He makes strong declarations, claiming that the genre has become too materialistic and lost the essence of what made it great in the first place.

Many consider the track to be one of the best in Hip-Hop history, and rightfully so.  Common will always be a fantastic lyricist, and shall remain a true legend in the industry.

 

-Ronzo