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Quality is Brooklyn MC Talib Kweli's first solo attempt after being part of a duo either in form of Blackstar or Reflection Eternal.
Now being a relativity new Hip-Hop act at the time, this solo album without the help of his producer Hi-Tek could have turned out quite bad. Wrong.
This Is personally one of my top 5 albums of all time, hearing the lead single 'Get By' was enough to convince me to purchase this CD but the funky feel of 'Waiting for the DJ' sealed the deal.
The album moves from a good introduction track of 'Rush' all the way through the most appealing tracks until it slows back down for 'Talk to you'.
The pace then increases again with the most guest listed song on the album 'Guerrilla monsoon rap' featuring one of the finest lyricists Pharoahe Monch who kills the track.
'Put it in the air' is the final what I describe 'leisurely track', a west coast sound featuring DJ Quik, it sets the scene and doesn't contain much of a message apart from Put in it the air, sound great though.
Track 11 onwards is where the album curves down to the slower tracks again, but with ALOT more deep lyrics than earlier tracks in the album.
If you were bumping this in the car track 10 might be the cut-off point, but listening on earphones at home is where these tracks are most beneficial.
Each containing deep lyrics on different topics such as lifestyle choices & terrorism. The most creative and uplifting personally is 'Stand to the side' which has the most incredible ending thanks to producer J Dilla and the beautiful bridge of Vinia Mojica.
A Kanye West beat 'Good to you' where Kweli convinces the listener of the consequences of commercial rap is a great track, but the finishing track 'Won't You Stay' is a great finisher to the album. Great beat, lyrics, hook and ending. It just sounds beautiful.
Buying this on CD is worth it as Kweli has taken time to write his thoughts and the story behind how the track came about in the booklet. A feature missing from most new albums now.
I have to say Talib Kweli has never made an album anywhere near the standard of Quality since. His rhymes have been typical battle rap forced flows with track ideas nothing like this album.
After a couple of collaborative albums, one with Hi-Tek (as Reflection Eternal) and one this Mos Def (as Black Star), the Brooklyn Hip Hopper Talib Kweli released his debut solo release in 2002. It finds that he breaks out alone, and shows how he can do the political, socially-aware Hip Hop to contrast form the main sounds of what comes from the genre.
1. "Keynote Speaker" (Intro)
To get thing going in a big way you have a hardcore track which has him working with the West coast's Xzibit. It is a rough track, and reflects the fact that he wishes to show new sides to his personally, and his music through this solo record, and so is able to use his conscious Hip Hop and direct it in a way which resembles Gangsta Rap.
3. "Get By"
Here you find the artists key single, and the one which really got his solo career going as he drops a killer tune on some beats from Kanye West as he seems to use similar techniques as what he chose to give the likes of Jay-Z, John Legend and Dilated Peoples all around this time, and it gets Kweli able to flow about the struggles of people similar to himself.
4. "Shock Body"
This is a hardcore track from him, and it has him keeping the flow of the album going with another track which has him working on some of the best production of the time as DJ Scratch (formally of EPMD) works with him and gets him doing something which has a club vibe to it in order to get him gather up a pretty large following.
5. "Gun Music"
The Cocoa Bruvaz (known also as Smif-N-Wessun) join him on this one as he does another track which has him showing that he can do all the same sort of thing which the general mainstream Hip Hop acts are doing, and so whilst taking on this kind of thing as a foundation, he inputs his specialised style to fit in with it all.
6. "Waitin' For The DJ"
This track is a straight killer, and as it progresses, it just gets better, you really can't mess with this piece as you see that Dahoud Darien gives him some of the best production he could possibly have to work with, as it messes around this conventional methods of constructing the work, and comes up with something so unique that you have to get down with it.
You have him working with Mos Def once again, and having this drop four years after their classic collaboration in 1998, this has him do a highly emotive one by talking about the ties when he can say he truly experienced "Joy" in his life when referring to what he felt when his children were born. The flows are incredible here, and show just how well he can adapt them to fit any circumstances.
8. "Talk To You"
Bilal helps him along the way on this one as you find that there is a significant change in the way the music goes, and so with this one you see him opt for something which has him dealing with thins in a different way with the MCing kept to a minimum and string work being the basis to the stuff as he tries out something different and alternative.
9. "Guerrilla Monsoon Rap"
With the then-relatively know Kanye West proving the production and adding vocals to thehook, this is a monster track off the album and it finds some of the finest conscious Hip hop MCs in the game coming together here as they show what the best lyricists in the game can do with Pharaoh Monch, The Roots' Black Thought both coming to help him get the job done. It is a dedication to the late, great wrestler of the same name.
10. "Put It In The Air"
This one stands out as one of the best tracks on the whole of the release as it finds that the artist goes for something very different here by getting into some party rap, and I felt that he did very well whilst being backed by DJ Quik, who chooses to do the beats in his own West Coast style.. It is a killer track, and one you wouldn't really expect from the album by Kweli.
11. "The Proud"
On this one you have him going for some politically-charge raps, and I felt that he executed it extremely well as he choose to get right at the government with some hardcore rhymes which have him take on the big power forces in the US, and fids him questing the motives of these organisation which evidence to back this up for both the Hip Hop listener, and those who are just generally up on world affairs.
9. "Where Do We Go"
Drawing similarities to "Talk To You", from earlier on in the album, you have this one where he changes his approach in the music by doing a down-beat track where he chooses to drive the track with very different focuses as in this one he chooses to talk about much darker things in life. He decides that it's best to just list these passively and not really explore them, but in spite of this potential issue, it is certainly a good one.
13. "Stand To The Side"
This is a track which finds that he is finally ready to make a change in the world, after seeing just how bad it can get, and so in order to do so he must initially move all of those who are passively allowing this oppression to persist must make room and allow for people such as himself to make action happen.
10. "Good To You"
This one is a very memorable track on the album, and it means that you are immediately drawn in by its contents as you have more from 'Ye's beats propping him up and allowing to come up with some of the most engaging flows of the whole thing. From the get-go you are brought right into this one, and you don't want to leave.
15. "Won't You Stay"
To end this album, you have track which has him visiting more of the same sort of thing which a lot of the commercial Hip Hop acts get into, with him choosing to do a little work which deals with girls and how it makes him feel. The thing is very light, and ends it in a delicate way.
This is a big album from Talib Kweli and it shows that in spite of earlier work where he was pretty much forced to do what his collaborator was feeling, he had the opportunity to diversity here ad get into some funky production throughout to give him just what is needed to show he can do things alone and make an impact upon the Hip Hop world without making it seem too 'alternative'.
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Keynote Speaker (Album Version (Explicit))
2 Rush (Feat. Xzibit)
3 Get By (Album Version (Explicit))
4 Shock Body (Album Version (Explicit))
5 Gun Music (Feat. Cocoa Brovaz)
6 Waitin' For The DJ (Feat. Bilal)
7 Joy (Feat. Mos Def)
8 Talk To You (Lil' Darlin') (Feat. Bilal)
9 Guerrilla Monsoon Rap (Feat. Pharoahe, Black Thought & Kanye West)
10 Put It In The Air (Explicit)
11 The Proud (Album Version (Explicit))
12 Where Do We Go (Feat. Res)
13 Stand To The Side (Feat. Novel and Vinia Mojca)
14 Good To You (Explicit)
15 Won't You Stay (Feat. Kendra Ross)