There are very few artists that have the ability to remain consistent. This consistency may vary between lyrical ability to deliverance of their flow to just flat out putting out an overall good album. Amongst those few is Talib Kweli. Surprised? You shouldn't be. Kweli is known for putting out hit after hit, all while maintaining a certain level of lyricism that transcends far beyond what you may find playing on your radio. His ability to bring life to Hip Hop music and giving the streets a true voice is what makes him stand out amongst his peers and puts him at the highest of his class. In his new project, Gutter Rainbows, Kweli gives the listener a little of that true hip hop feel. With passion infused lyrics and energetic production, this album is a reminder of the real which we all miss.
In its titled track, "Gutter Rainbows" produced by M-Phazes, Kweli showcases why he is one of greatest emcees of all times (notice I didn't say rapper). "Welcome to my hood, where the rainbows is in the gutters, the pain that you will discover, will make the angels shudder... I paint pictures so legendary, I've been doing this, your history is as short like the month of February." The ability to speak on behalf of the streets without the discussion of violence, sex, and drugs is what makes Kweli's statements so true. This mentality and tone is set throughout the entire album. Other tracks that highlight the authenticity of his message include "Tater Tot", "Cold Rain", "Wait for You", and "Mr. International". Key producers on this album that assist in bringing out the energy that Kweli wanted to convey include KHRYSIS, 88-Keys, Nick Speed, Marco Polo, and S1.
Tapping into the emotions of your audience is one way to solidify your spot in the hearts of the listener. With his raw lyrics and the grab your attention delivery, Kweli shows forth the talent that we all know and love about him. Reminding us of how in the music industry, there are more important things than just record sales and the materialism that comes with the fame, the track "So Low" is a confession of sorts. Kweli gives insight to his own struggles as dealing with music and remaining human. "I got my own demons, what I'm supposed to do with yours, times like this, gotta remind myself what I do it for." The struggle to remain humble while reaching to accomplish goals that cause you to be in the spotlight and have others criticize your every move can be taxing on an up and coming artist. Though he is already established, the daily challenges remain the same. "Uh Oh" (prod. by Oh No) featuring the beautiful and talented Jean Grae, my favorite on the album, is another track that brings out the rugged with a touch of class. "I'm a man of God who asked the devil for some face time... you never see him coming 'cause you faith blind." Respect, a key element of the streets, is what is given to a person who not only establishes his street integrity, but has earned the reverence amongst their respective peers. Kweli's reputable credibility should never be forgotten or taken lightly. He still remains at the top of his game while staying true to self. "Self Savior" (produced by Maurice Brown) featuring Chace Infinite speaks to the fact that while we continue to evolve as a people and grow in our personal lives, learning ways to not only help ourselves, but lift as we climb is very essential to the overall progression of the human race. "You gotta get back to your essence, use your gifts to share your presence. Don't count your dollars till you count your blessings." Cherishing the course and how you have reached a new place in your walk is pertinent to how you will continue your path. It's the Sankofa effect, where you reach back in order to move forward. Just in your moving forward, you bringing others along with you and provide them a new view of the journey ahead. This tenacity and overall leadership is what helps to make Kweli successful as a musician and a Hip Hop icon. And if you were never a fan before, this album is sure to change your mind.
Gutter Rainbows represents what music could be if we remembered why we fell in love with hip hop in the first place. Kweli does exactly this. So in the midst of the crown vic' music, the ringtone rappers, and the overly exaggerated "gangster" rap, its good to find a little rainbow that shines above all of that. Kweli, and those much like him, represent that beautiful in the midst of the gutter. Isn't that awesome?