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The group only made one album together, but both went on to receive widespread success. Cops protect the status quo, they protect corporate interest that’s just one element of their job, one tool of systemic racism.

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TALIB KWELITalib Kweli is an American hip hop recording artist, entrepreneur and social activist. TALIB KWELI: Tribe Called Quest did a last tour ever that Black Star, we went – we toured with y’all for a couple of dates. But that was incredible to me. You could watch some of those shows on YouTube too. I watched them.

Kweli: My musical influence is really from my father — he was a DJ in college. My parents met at New York University. My father was a kid from New Rochelle who came to New York City, and he was exposed to many different cultures. So he listened to Motown, and he listened to Bob Dylan He listened to the Grateful Dead and Rolling Stones , but he also listened to reggae music. He listened to everything, and he collected vinyl. So I grew up in a house that had vinyl, stacks of vinyl lined against the walls in the living room and the dining room. And when I got to the age where music became really important to me, maybe around 9, 10, 11, I spent a lot of time listening to those records over and over again.


TALIB KWELI: Yeah. TALIB KWELI: We did not. No. We just stole it. Sorry, Toni. The fifth annual Chreece hip-hop festival will bring Talib Kweli to Indianapolis. TALIB KWELI: Thank you. Take a look at Talib Kweli revealing he and Kanye have a joint album in the works below.


Black Star did not simply use melody to sugarcoat their politics. The metaphor implies their audience simply went unaware, but that could not be further from the truth. Neither rapper was hiding their ideologies, but rather, the duo found a way to make them palatable and infectious summertime tunes. The goal of Black Star was not to necessarily sneak in political meaning but to make the political approachable and enjoyable. With that, the record was imbued with an aura of soul and heart that could never sound dated, that also colored Kweli’s delivery and the mahogany timbre of the album’s soundscapes. The depth of the bass on Hater Players” felt etched into the breakbeats, and the looming keys on Thieves in the Night” gave a parlor room richness to a five-minute sermon on fighting oppression and mental fortitude.

But the things that move people are not just found in the mainstream culture. So when we talk about hip-hop in general, hip-hop is preoccupied with life. You could find a hip-hop song dealing with any subject matter, but the stuff that’s being promoted and marketed and the corporations are spending major money on is the decadent stuff, which is mostly about drug use and sex. That’s why people get a skewed perspective of hip-hop. Hip-hop fans themselves aren’t even listening to that stuff. Most hip-hop fans aren’t listening to mainstream hip-hop. It’s people from other walks of life and genres who don’t have anything invested in hip-hop, who are pop listeners or who listen to whatever’s trendy, that are driving that. But when that stuff is not trendy anymore, you’ll start to see clearer what the subject matters of hip-hop are and how diverse they are.

TALIB KWELI: Right. Hip-hop has always been a great unifier, and I feel like more than anything on the planet, hip-hop music has educated people and brought more cultures together than anything. I mean, at its heart, at its root, hip-hop is folk music. It’s speaking in the language that people are still speaking on the streets. By the time you get to most pop and rock and R&B music, the language becomes more romantic. It becomes more abstract. Hip-hop is still saying the exact words and the phrases, and hip-hop will let you know if that phrase is played out.

What I want Kanye to know—if he ever sees this—is that the love that he’s getting by parroting right-wing talking points, that love is not genuine. Those people would drop him in a heartbeat. And when they’re done using him as a weapon against his own people, his own people are here for him.TALIB KWELI

A decade ago, Ishmael Butler—the architect of the groundbreaking but long-disbanded hip-hop group Digable Planets—was preparing at last to emerge from years of near-complete silence. He unveiled his new outlet, Shabazz Palaces, in the summer of 2009 through a pair of self-released EPs, surrounding his hyperlinked verses with webs of psychedelic textures and refracted rhythms. From the start, confidentiality seemed essential: Butler wanted Shabazz Palaces to stand on its own strength, not his outsized reputation, so he adopted a nom de plume for himself.

When he saw Kanye being critiqued, Chance jumped in without context, and what he said was very true: It’s true that black people don’t have to be Democrats. On the surface that’s a true statement. I’m not a Democrat. I’m very critical of the Democratic party. When Chance jumped in, in his mind he was standing up for Kanye. But as he eloquently said in his apology, he didn’t realize at the time that his words were going to be used against us.


TK: I have a lot of things going on. Yasiin Bey and I are working on a new Black Star album, I have my podcast which is called The People’s Party” and on that Youtube channel you mentioned I have a TV show that I just launched called Vibrate Higher.” That’s definitely where my focus is right now.

Kweli: Oh yeah, they came around in the beginning. My parents were very understanding and very accepting and pushed me to do what I wanted to do. They didn’t quite get hip-hop at first, but they were supportive of me participating in hip-hop, definitely, once they saw I participated in it and they saw how I did it. And then they got to know about The Roots and Nas and Mos Def, and they started to see other examples. Now they use hip-hop in their classes, both of them.

Talib Kweli’s new album is titled Prisoner of Conscious. TALIB KWELI: Yeah. They used to call Myrtle Murder Ave back in the day. TALIB KWELI: It might be the book references. ALI: And talking to people. And that just came from the music and – there was a lot going – the food.

It’s funny because people like to say ever since Obama became President all of a sudden there’s a racial divide, which is ironic. I can say that he (Trump) hasn’t made the divide worse yet he has exposed the same thing Obama has exposed. When Obama became President the race rhetoric increased and people bought a lot of guns, gun sales went up by a crazy percentage. What you now have are people who are closeted white supremacists, they’ll get on TV and say it. For instance they’ll say, “Trump says the things that I’ve wanted to say but didn’t think were socially acceptable to say” — though he’s saying completely nonsensical, racist things and they’re like “yes! I’ve been thinking that the whole time” (laughs). So I don’t think he’s created more of a division but I do think he’s emboldened people, they’re starting to feel a lot more comfortable.

Kweli: I never doubted that I would be doing this for the rest of my life. I’ve been far more successful than I’ve even dreamed I could be. I was working at a bookstore when I was 19, 20, and I was rapping. I was locally known, and I was doing open mics around the city, and I was ecstatic. I remember thinking then, “Man, if I could just work at this bookstore forever” — that was back in the days when that was a viable option to, like, work at a bookstore — “If I could just work at this bookstore and rap.” I had kids very young, so I was, like, if I could raise my kids doing what I love — that to me is the definition of success.

Kweli shifts gears on Favela Love.” Inspired by and created during a trip to Sao Paulo, Brazil, the breezy song features crooning from Brazilian singer and actor Seu Jorge (City Of God, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou). Kweli and Jorge met in the studio, leading Kweli to deviate from his original concept for the song.

I posted that in public because Kanye had reached out to Jay-Z publicly in a similar fashion. As a friend, I want to respect the friendship, and I tend to not admonish my friends in public. But since he reached out to Jay-Z in a similar way, it seemed like a way to reach out to him. That was a time when I didn’t even have a number for him. When I said that on Twitter, I still felt like that was important to be said. When I finally got a number for him, he had deleted the Trump tweets, so I assumed that he’d changed his mind. But obviously he did not.

Kweli: Nah, my parents were not hip-hop fans. They were fans of urban music. So whenever hip-hop crept into the mainstream culture, like, there would be certain records — Shannon, ” Let the Music Play ” is essentially a hip-hop record; or Blondie, ” Rapture ” or “Rapper’s Delight”; Sugarhill Gang I remember the first rap record that was on the radio that was real, real boom-bap hip-hop that I remember was Run-DMC ” You Be Illin'” By that time they were a big group; they had ” Walk This Way” But my parents weren’t into that.

So, yeah, I went over there to try to get my song done, but then I heard them working on this Tribe Called Quest album. I didn’t bring my song up again. I went there the next day and I went there the next day. I went over to Tip’s house maybe for two weeks straight. Then I told Dave Chappelle about it and then he came. He told Chris Rock and Chris Rock came.

TALIB KWELI: That’s a great example, because like even on many levels, my connection to the African Street Festival is deep. I’m talking about real real deep. The organizers. I’m very cool with – Rich Mason, Brother Belawa, his pops is one of the organizers of the festivals. This is a friend of yours, a friend of mine. The mother of my children – I used to work at Nkiru Books, which me and Mos Def owned, we bought later. Every year we would go to the African Street Festival at Boys and Girls and set up a tent. And I would live in that tent. And live there, selling books for the whole time.

I’m just curious to know how this culture is now, where things are sort of understated to a degree. One, how does that come out in the music? And two, how does that transform legislation? How does that advance us as a people? How does it unite us as a people, where’s that going? Through the music of course, not from any other scope.

Black Star did not simply use melody to sugarcoat their politics. The metaphor implies their audience simply went unaware, but that could not be further from the truth. Neither rapper was hiding their ideologies, but rather, the duo found a way to make them palatable and infectious summertime tunes. The goal of Black Star was not to necessarily sneak in political meaning but to make the political approachable and enjoyable. With that, the record was imbued with an aura of soul and heart that could never sound dated, that also colored Kweli’s delivery and the mahogany timbre of the album’s soundscapes. The depth of the bass on Hater Players” felt etched into the breakbeats, and the looming keys on Thieves in the Night” gave a parlor room richness to a five-minute sermon on fighting oppression and mental fortitude.

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