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Friday, Dec. 9, 2005
LISTENING POST: CD REVIEWS
Talib Kweli: "Right About Now"
Despite heaps of praise for his groups Black Star and Reflection Eternal, and for his solo work, mainstream fame has eluded Brooklyn MC Talib Kweli. Considered one of the best albums in American underground hip-hop, 2004's "The Beautiful Struggle" saw him making a run at the big time; sounding forced and out of place, though, the results were mediocre at best.
Although not as strong as his pre-"Beautiful Struggle" work, "Right About Now" is a step in the proper direction. Kweli's socially conscious and intelligent rhymes are focused and his flow is tight. And as the production isn't as slick as his past releases, the dozen cuts hit that much harder. Kweli kicks things up with excellent collaborations featuring MF Doom and Jean Grae, and gives a nod to his roots with former Black Star partner Mos Def joining on the energetic "Supreme Supreme." Trading verses over a funky, horn-driven track, you know in a perfect world this would be a top-10 hit.
"Ms. Hill," Kweli's ode to Lauryn Hill, is the best song on the disc. Sampling Ben Kweller's "In Other Words," he professes love for The Fugees' frontwoman's music while rapping "forget money, keep our eyes on the final hour."
"Right About Now" showcases an artist who one day will find greater commercial success, but he's obviously not going to compromise his music to get there faster.