Songcraft: Conversations with Great Songwriters Podcast

Talib Kweli


Ep. 59 - Talib Kweli
Prisoner of Conscious: Underground Hip Hop's Legendary Lyricist

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Scott and Paul welcome Talib, Songcraft's first hip hop guest, who reveals why the best hip hop writers rival Shakespeare; how impressing girls was the gateway to his musical career; the way he learned the unwritten rules of freestyle battles; the three artists who influenced him most; why his community felt betrayed by commercial hip hop in the late 1990s; how he helped Kanye West launch his artist career; and his thoughts on hip hop's social responsibility in today's political climate.

Emerging from Brooklyn in the late 1990s, Talib Kweli has carved out a reputation as a gifted lyricist and has been called “one of this generation’s most poetic MCs” by AllMusic.com. A prolific collaborator, he is a member of multiple duos, including Reflection Eternal with DJ Hi-Tek, Black Star with Yasiin Bey (formerly known as Mos Def), and Idle Warship with vocalist Res. He has placed seven releases in the Top 10 on Billboard’s R&B and Hip Hop Albums chart, and has found success with the solo hit “Get By,” which was produced by Kanye West. Additional hits include the Top 5 Black Star track “Definition,” the chart-topping Reflection Eternal singles “Move Somethin’” and “The Blast,” and the Top 5 single “One Four Love Pt. 1,” which was included on the Hip Hop for Respect EP he organized with Mos Def. Additionally, he and Common collaborated on “Get ‘Em High” from Kanye West’s The College Dropout album. Kweli recently contributed to “The Killing Season” from A Tribe Called Quest’s 2016 comeback album that debuted at #1 on the Billboard album charts. Others with whom he’s collaborated include John Legend, Pharrell Williams, J Dilla, The Roots, will.i.am, KRS-One, Consequence, Anderson .Paak, Anthony Hamilton, Mary J. Blige, Raheem DeVaughn, Norah Jones, Musiq Soulchild, Sizzla, Justin Timberlake, and Jay-Z.

   

Songcraft's Talib Kweli Playlist: Spotify users can select the song you'd like to hear below, or simply start the player and enjoy a collection of some of Talib's best known songs, as well as some highlights from his many guest appearances. If you don't have a Spotify account, follow the prompts to sign up for free. Click this link to take you directly to the playlist in the Spotify web player.