INNER VIEW – Talib Kweli
Since ’95, Brooklyn, New York’s Talib Kweli has been developing a musical vehicle to launch social awareness into the minds of the masses. He recently said a few words about music past and the recent release of his fifth studio album, Prisoner of Conscious.
RD: What was your first interaction with Hip Hop?
Talib Kweli: Growing up in New York City hip hop was all around me, but my first foray into hip hop for real was in Junior High School.
Describe your take on Hip-Hop in New York, then and now. Is it where you thought it would be?
Hip Hop is global now. Back then it was down by law, and many outside of the local NY scene had to form their own scenes, that would only be connected by the well-traveled. Now, online hip hop communities exists and that can broaden the outlook of the artists who participate in it.
Did you accomplish what you set out to with the latest release of Prisoner of Conscious?
I have, I am very proud of Prisoner of Conscious and I am looking forward to my next release.
What inspired and continues to inspire you to make the music you do?
Everything inspires me, but mostly family and the love and passion i have for my craft.
The entertainment business is cut-throat. What was the your most formative experience along the way?
Learning how to put out my own music on my own label.
What was your most prolific period so far (that zone where every word and voice inflection seems to fit effortlessly)?
What are the most frustrating and rewarding aspects of moving as an artist who’s always expected to deliver uplifting lyrics?
It’s great to be thought of as a conscious artist but it’s hard to navigate the expectations of others. Artists should not be exempt from being human. It’s frustrating when people don’t support what they claim they want.
The word “nigga” is a staple in rap music. No other race allows such a potentially derogatory term to be repeated in all forms of media. Why the exception?
No one “allows” the word nigga to be used, but it is exploited thru hip hop because of hip hop’s popularity…but gay dudes call each other fag, women call each other bitch, white people have redneck TV shows, so everyone does it.
Black Star was a great moment in time. Tell us about your creative relationship with Mos Def. Can we expect another Talib, Mos and Hi-Tek album or collaboration?
I love working with Mos and Hi-Tek, those are my brothers. Black Star does shows often and Hi-Tek and I have done 2 albums, so right now I’m focused on my solo career.
If you could go back and choose anyone from a previous time to sing the hook on a single from an upcoming album, who would it be and why?
Nina Simone for obvious reasons.
What words would you like to leave your fans with?
Do it yourself, do it to death.