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This is a pure Hip Hop album from a rare breed of artist who currently produce this music. His content is not how rapers go on, about strippers, money, etc., Kweli speaks about what is important in the world and how to improve it (he even throws in a couple of love songs to mix it up). Talib Kweli shows his ability to change up his style slightly a he has recently managed to reach a wider audience, which includes the UK. This alteration has in no way taken away from his potential, he appears to havemaintained his capabilities on "Ear Drum".
1. Everything Man
We are kicked off with a track slightly too long for an intro whilst too short to be a full-length track. This feels more like an intro though as we are eased in to the understnding of the albums title as the ear drum is synced with the heart beat, meaning that we were made with rhythm within ourselves.
2. NY Weather Report
Kweli taks of the place where all of his music has come from, New York. This is a track which reflects the overall themes and form of how Hip Hop on the East Coast is created and comprised of. The turntable scratches could be seen as too cheesy to express this however, as I feel he felt that this was used to show the roots of this genre in where it was initially established.
3. Hostile Gospel, Pt. 1 (Deliver Us) (feat. MeLa Machinko)
This is as much of his work seen in previous albums, not going too far out there in his lyrics, however as it is too much like what I have heard before and I'd like to see what else he is capable of.
4. Say Something (feat. Jean Grae)
At the beginning Kweli takes us to the greatest year ever, claimed to be 1975 here (elsewhere known to be the year prior to this) in which Hip Hop music was created. This is a solid Hip hop track and has a hard-hitting beat which works well to provide a retro feel.
5. Country Cousins (feat. UGK & Raheem DeVaughn)
I was highly dissappointed here because I was very excited to see that Bun B and Pimp C came to record with Kweli on a track off the album so I had high expectations which did ot get lived up to. It seems as though if you take them out of their Dirty south sound it doesn't work. The beat appears to loosely resemble a bassy H-Town hit but doesn't provide what I want.
6. Holy Moly
In this recording the track is very short, and leaves me hanging as I would have expected it to last longer, the beat is jumpy and unlike his usual choice for backing sound.
7. Eat to Live
Kweli provides us with many accounts in which tragic event occur within life in the projects of New York. The track is highly emotional as we see how some people don't even have the choice to "Eat to Live" in a country in which is supposed to be full of opportunity as they are made to feel unrealistically that 'The American Dream' is easily available.
8. In The Mood (feat. Kanye West & Roy Ayers)
The title is self explanatory however this is faster than what would be expected of a track entitled how it is. To see any other incredible Hip Hop artist of this time in the from of Kanye West the theme of contrast is continued from the title which is unlike the song.
9. Soon The New Day (feat. Norah Jones)
I didn't expect to see this, Norah Jones on a Hip hop album but I was pleasantly greeted with a sound which was more tolerable than her own material. This is a nice slow and soulful track with a lot of appeal to those into Norah Jones as I am informed that it isn't far from her typical work.
10. Give 'Em Hell (feat. Coi Mattison & Lyfe Jennings)
This is a typical example of Kweli's work in which he talk about the state of the work in which everybody gives each other Hell, and we are all living in Hell with all of the evil surrounding us, this is nothing but Hip Hop.
11. More Or Less (feat. Dion)
This is is the hardocre element to his work, in this one he appears to be extremly angry as he shows us what Hip hop is all about. He explains what is like to be in front of a crowd knowing that he is spreading their word.
12. Stay Around
I didn't really feel this one, it didn't fit in wellwith what I enjoy form Kweli's music.
13. Hot Thing (feat. will.i.am)
This is a nice song and one which is to be released soon. Kweli takes a break from talking about hi political view and the state of his life to send a message to his loved one, his "Hot Thing". He collaborates with will.i.am of The Black Eyed Peas, this star power may add to its appeal to those who know little of Kweli's art.
14. Space Fruit (Interlude)
15. The Perfect Beat (feat. KRS-One)
With a legendary MC to help him, we are provided with a very simple and heavy beat. It feels extremely gritty, with KRS of his usual rants about telling the world what "'Real Hip Hop' is. Kweli provides us with a description of life which forces you into this music, the poverty and general difficulties in every-day living. I wouldn't say that what the title refers to is made her but it certainly stands as a better tune for "Ear Drum"
16. Oh My Stars (feat. Musiq Soulchild)
Alongside Musiqsoul Child Talib makes a big impact with this one, it is a nice collaboration as the artists work well against each other. The vocal of the great soulful musician complete this and add an extra element.
This was the first single on the album to be released, the launch of this single occurred over a year ago and so his fans are highly familiar with it. The decision to place it last is smart as it gives the listeners a reason to listen through until the end. It still stands as one of the better tracks from the album despite it being heard possibly too much. The vocals from an unknown source are haunting throughout this, it strongly contrasts the raps of Talib Kweli which have a modern sound.
In my opinion this LP was far too long thus, giving more spaces for weak tracks, if the choice was narrowed down then there would be less to complain about. The impact of weak tracks overshadows the better track on the album and so it does appear that thee is little good in this. In fact I would agree and say you are better off to simply but the individual singles as these agree the only ones which I would highly rate amongst what can be heard in "Ear Drum"
I have nothing to criticize about in his lyrical content as I completely agree with him. His experiments in style in my opinion do not work and so I feel that he should stick to what he is good at. The inclusion of love songs is one of the better experimental techniques used and I hope to see more of this in the future.
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Everything Man - Talib Kweli
2 My Weather Report - Talib Kweli
3 Hostile Gospel, Pt. 1 (Deliver Us) - Talib Kweli
4 Say Something - Jean Grae, Talib Kweli
5 Country Cousins - Raheem DeVaughn, Talib Kweli, UGK
6 Holy Moly - Talib Kweli
7 Eat to Live - Talib Kweli
8 In the Mood - Roy Ayers, Talib Kweli, Kanye West
9 Soon the New Day - Norah Jones, Talib Kweli
10 Give 'Em Hell - Lyfe Jennings, Talib Kweli, Coi Mattison
11 More or Less - Dion, Talib Kweli
12 Stay Around - Talib Kweli
13 Hot Thing - Talib Kweli, will.i.am,
14 Space Fruit (Interlude) - Sa-Ra,
15 Perfect Beat - KRS-One, , Talib Kweli
16 Oh My Stars - Talib Kweli, Musiq (Soulchild)
17 Listen!!! - Talib Kweli
18 Go with Us [*] - Talib Kweli, Strong Arm Steady
19 Hostile Gospel, Pt. 2 (Deliver Me) [*] - Talib Kweli, Sizzla
20 Nature [*] - Talib Kweli, Justin Timberlake