- Talib Kweli
Infobox musical artist
Name = Talib Kweli
Img_capt = Talib performing in Brooklyn, 2008.
Birth_name = Talib Kweli Greene
Alias = BK MC, Mr. International, MCEO, Kwe
Background = solo_singer
Born = birth date and age|1975|10|3
Origin = flagicon|USA
Brooklyn, New York City, New York, U.S.
Genre = Hip hop,
Alternative hip hop
Years_active = 1997–present
Blacksmith Records/ Warner Bros. Records(2005-Present)
Associated_acts = Black Star
Reflection Eternal DJ Hi-Tek Kanye West Mos Def Idle Warship Immortal Technique
URL = [http://talibkweli.com/ TalibKweli.com]
Talib Kweli Greene (born
October 3, 1975), better known as Talib Kweli, is an American MCfrom Brooklyn, New York. He is one of the best-known and critically, if not commercially, successful rappers in alternative hip hop. His first name in Arabic means "student" or "seeker"; his middle name in Swahili means "true". Kweli first gained recognition through Black Star, a collaboration with fellow MC Mos Def. Kweli has two children. Kweli has supported the " Black August Benefit Concert" since its inception, and performs at the show consistently every year.
Born in Brooklyn, Kweli grew up in a highly educated household. His mother is an English professor and his father a
sociologyprofessor. As a youth, he was drawn to Afrocentric rappers, such as De La Souland other members of the Native Tongues Posseand Gallwhom he had met in high school. Talib Kweli was a student at Cheshire Academy, a boarding school in Connecticut. He later studied experimental theater at New York University(NYU). [ [http://www.musicianguide.com/biographies/1608003729/Talib-Kweli.html Talib Kweli Biography - Discography, Music, Lyrics, Album, CD, Career, Famous Works, and Awards ] ]
Early career (1997-2001)
Kweli made his professional debut in 1997, with an appearance on "Doom," an album by Cincinnati, Ohio group, Mood (Main Flow, Donte, Jahson). In Cincinnati, Kweli also met
DJ Hi-Tekand the two collaborated on a few well received underground recordings as Reflection Eternal. Shortly afterwards, upon returning to New York, he reconnected with Mos Def and formed Black Star. Kweli brought along Hi-Tek to produce their first and only album, 1998's "Mos Def and Talib Kweli Are Black Star". The album, released amidst a late '90s renaissance of conscious, Afrocentric hip hop, was immediately hailed by critics and achieved modest mainstream success. When Kweli and Mos Def parted ways shortly thereafter, Kweli and Hi-Tek continued their Reflection Eternalpartnership on the 2000 album "Train of Thought", which was likewise met with critical acclaim, but modest sales.
Start of solo career (2002-2003)
Following "Train of Thought," Kweli and Hi-Tek split as well, and Kweli used his first truly solo debut to attempt a move toward a more mainstream sound. 2002's "Quality," accomplished this goal to some extent, featuring production by a host of different producers, including
DJ Quikand Kanye West. The album was met with wide spread critical acclaim and received some mainstream attention thanks to the West-produced single "Get By."
Rise in cultural popularity
In 2004, Talib Kweli, along with Bob Moore's Amazing Mongrels, supported the
Beastie Boyson their "Challah At Your Boy World Tour," participated in a photo shoot by the amateur photographer Ben Fink Shaprio, and appeared in a few Dilated Peoplessongs, including a live remixlater featured on the video game " NBA Street Vol. 2".
Kweli has used television appearances extensively to increase visibility, notably on
MTV's " Wild 'N Out", and several performances on "Chappelle's Show" with long-time collaborator Mos Def; these performances were a product of host Chappelle's friendship with Kweli. Chappelle in turn participated in a number of skits on Kweli's albums "Train of Thought" and "Quality"- impersonating several people including Nelson Mandela. Kweli also had a guest spot on Kanye West's widely successful debut album " The College Dropout" on the track "Get 'Em High". West has produced some of Kweli's songs, including his biggest commercial hit "Get By". Kweli can be seen in a commercial for the NCAA's Big Ten Conference, rapping about the league's basketballteams. [cite web|url=http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2006/writers/luke_winn/01/06/power.rankings/2.html |publisher=Sports Illustrated |title=Power Rankings: Michigan St. Spartans (11-2) |date=January 6, 2006] He also provided the voice of the protagonist in the graffiti-themed video game "", released in 2006. [cite news|title=Review:Graffiti game fresh and fun |url=http://www.cnn.com/2006/TECH/fun.games/02/24/getting.up/index.html |publisher=CNN |date=February 24, 2006]
Talib and fellow rapper artist
Mos Defpurchased Nkiru, which is Brooklyn's oldest black-owned bookstore, and converted it into the Nkiru Center for Education and Culture. [cite web|url=http://www.holycross.edu/publicaffairs/features//talib |publisher=Holy Cross College |title=Acclaimed Hip-Hop Artist Talib Kweli Named Black History Month Keynote Speaker at Holy Cross |date=February 1, 2005] [cite web|title=HPD - Homebuyers - New York City Neighborhoods - Prospect heights, Brooklyn |url=http://www.nyc.gov/html/hpd/html/buyers/nychome-neighborhoods-brooklyn-prospectheights.shtml |publisher=The City of New York: Department of Housing Preservation and Development]
Kweli's stature continued to grow, particularly fueled by a line from
Jay-Z's 2003 record, "The Black Album": "If skills sold, truth be told/I'd probably be, lyrically, Talib Kweli."
Middle career (2004-2006)
In 2004, he released his second solo album and final Rawkus release, "
The Beautiful Struggle". The album featured much more commercial production, and although Kweli's lyrics retained their socio-political content, he affected a somewhat harder persona. The album failed to cross over into the mainstream and suffered a critical backlash.
In 2005, Kweli released a Mixtape-CD off of his newly formed
Blacksmith Records. The project was called "", a title which is considered likely a response to the criticism of " The Beautiful Struggle".
On "", Talib Kweli sampled
Ben Kweller's "In Other Words" for his own song "Ms. Hill". In part 7 of Kweller's video podcast series "One Minute Pop Song," Kweller said he found Kweli's use of the song "a little fucked up" due to the fact that it was sampled without permission. [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SCX54oh0p2o Ben Kweller's One Minute Pop Song: Episode 7]
Recent career (2007-2008)
December 31, 2006, Kweli released nine songs he recorded with acclaimed underground producer Madlibfor free download in conjunction with the web site for Stones Throw Records, the label to which Madlib is signed. The album was entitled " Liberation", of which Talib later was quoted by XXL magazine as stating releasing the album was liberating to him; "The idea that I could put out an album like that: record it in my house, put it out for free and get that type of response."Big Dog Status by Thomas Golianopoulos. XXL Magazine. January 2008. Page 82.] The album was in 2007 made for sale as a retail item.
For his newest release, Kweli formed his own record label,
Blacksmith Records, and has recently signed acclaimed rapper Jean Graeand the group Strong Arm Steady. He also signed a new distribution deal with Warner Bros. Recordsfor Blacksmith Records. His latest solo album is called "Eardrum" and was released on Aug 21, 2007. It debuted at #2 on the Billboard 200. The first single was Listen!!!.
Kweli embarked on a national
Australian tour in October, 2007. In 2007, a bootleg import CD containing rare and collaborative songs was released entitled "Focus". Recently Talib has joined MTV's hit show " MADE" and filmed an episode in the small town of Arlington, Massachusetts, as well as SMT Studiosin New York City. He was the coach of Colin Colt, a young man who wanted to be made into a rap star.
Future projects (2008 and beyond)
On a New Year's blog Talib Kweli confirmed that he has 3 albums planned for 2008: "Prisoner of Conscious", a second Reflection Eternal album, and "Party Robot". In the blog, Kweli also confirmed that he will be working on new albums with
Jean Grae, and Dion.
Kweli confirmed in a recent interview with "
VIBE" magazine that the title of his next album will be "Prisoner of Conscious", a title derived from Talib's constant labeling as a "conscious rapper" and based on Nigerian reggae artist Majek Fashek's album "Prisoner of Conscience."Fact|date=March 2008
Talib Kweli and DJ Hi-Tek have both said they are recording a second Reflection Eternal album which will be a follow-up to "Train of Thought". [cite web|url=http://www.hiphop-elements.com/article/read/4/7083/1/ |publisher= hiphop-elements.com|title=Talib Kweli Playing It By Ear; Says New Reflection Eternal LP Is In Motion |date=September 28, 2007] [ [http://www.hiphopdx.com/index/news/id.6299/title.talib-kweli-confirms-reflection-eternal-reunion-album Talib Kweli Confirms Reflection Eternal Reunion Album | Hip Hop News > HipHopDX.com ] ]
In March 2008, Kweli was featured on the
9th Wonderand Buckshot track "Hold It Down".
Talib is currently recording a collaborative album titled "Party Robot" with
R&Bsinger Resunder the group alias Idle Warship. They have released one song, "Industry Diary" from the upcoming project.
Talib Kweli documentary
Director/Editor: Video Rahim
Production and Editorial: Visualuxury, Worldstorm arts lab
Associate Producer: Francis Percarpio, Jewell, Rubix, Madori, Corey Smith
Cameras: Video Rahim, Cognito, Matt Hurley, Mike Moore, Eric G, Mike Snyder, Ashley Simpson, Ben Franzen, Goldwin Carlin
Starring: Talib Kweli,
Kanye West, Mos Def, The Beastie Boys, Dave Chappelle, The Roots, Jay-Z, De La Soul, Common, Hi-Tek, Jean Grae, Pharrell, Killer Mike, Fat Lip, Damon Dash, Rosario Dawson, Pete Rock, Marc Ecko, Mad Lib Bobbito, Black Sheep, Cee-Lo, and The Dungeon Family
These are all the people said to be in the film, which has been in a project since 1999. [http://de.youtube.com/watch?v=MvESVSBzozE&feature=related]
*"Black Star" (1998, as Black Star, with
*"Train of Thought" (2000, as
Reflection Eternal, with Hi-Tek)
The Beautiful Struggle" (2004)
*"Liberation" (2006, with
*"Party Robot" (2009, as
Idle Warship, with Res)
*"Prisoner of Conscious" (TBA)
* [http://talibkweli.com/ Talib Kweli - Official site] (requires Flash)
* [http://talibkweliblog.com Talib Kweli - Official blog]
* [http://www.musicianguide.com/biographies/1608003729/Talib-Kweli.html Talib Kweli Biography]
* [http://www.synthesis.net/music/story.php?type=story&id=4801 Synthesis.net interview]
* [http://www.synthesis.net/music/story.php?type=story&id=3368 Synthesis.net interview from 2002]
* [http://www.myspace.com/talibkweli Talib Kweli - Myspace page]
* [http://board.talibkweli.com Talib Kweli - Official Message Board]
* [http://www.youtube.com/talibkweli Talib Kweli - Official Video Channel]
* [http://music.blackplanet.com/talibkweli/ Talib Kweli - Black Planet page]
* [http://xxlmag.com/online/?p=7052 Talib Kweli - Interview by XXLmag.com]
* [http://www.britishhiphop.co.uk/features/interviews/talib_kweli.html Talib Kweli interview at britishhiphop.co.uk]
* [http://www.absolutepunk.net/artists/showlink.php?do=showdetails&l=4221 Talib Kweli on AbsolutePunk.net]
* [http://www.rollingstone.com/artists/talibkweli Talib Kweli] at Rolling Stone
* [http://formatmag.com/features/music/talib-kweli/ Talib Kweli - Interview @ Formatmag.com]
* [http://tinymixtapes.com/Will-Kweli-Be-Makin-The-People-Be Tiny Mix Tapes] on Kweli's "Ear Drum"
* [http://www.realdetroitweekly.com/article_3731.shtml Real Detroit Weekly Interview]
* [http://www.scion.com/broadband/index.html?ch=0&sh=1&ep=28 Video Interview from Scion]
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