Brooklyn MC Talib Kweli is known as a highly talented lyricist. As a hip hop purist, Kweli has never tried to chart or cross into the mainstream but has always put lyrical skill and substance first. With songs such as ‘Get By’ and ‘Black Girl Pain’ addressing real-world problems and struggles within the African-American community, some may try and label him as a conscious rapper. However, Kweli’s music is simply grounded in a dire reality.
With a lot of production from Kanye West, even managing to feature on his debut album College Dropout, Kweli has always leaned towards soulful hip hop. Beyond soul, Kweli has been known to incorporate elements of gospel into his music while exploring themes around spirituality.
The rapper’s career began in the late 1990s as one half of the duo Black Star with Mos Def. Signing to Rawkus Records in 1997, Kweli, in collaboration with Def, released his Hip Hop for Respect EP to speak out against police brutality in 2000.
Pursuing a solo career, in 2002, Kweli released his debut album, Quality. The album featured a lot of production from Kanye West and DJ Quik, in particular, and received widespread critical acclaim. Kweli went on to release a total of eight full-length studio albums, with his third album, Eardrum, peaking at number 2 on the Billboard 200.
Kweli and Mos Def are still active today as the duo Black Star and even released their second studio album, No Fear of Time, earlier this year. While speaking with Experience Vinyl, a streaming service for whom Kweli is a curator, the rapper listed his top ten albums of all time, and it is fair to say it is very soulful and not surprising. You can see the list below.
Talib Kweli’s 10 favourite albums of all time:
- Mama’s Gun – Erykah Badu, (2001)
- Reasonable Doubt – Jay-Z, (1996)
- Done By The Forces Of Nature – Jungle Brothers, (1989)
- Live At Filmore West – Aretha Franklin, (1971)
- Legend – Bob Marley, (1984)
- Winter in America – Gil Scott-Heron, (1974)
- De La Soul is Dead – De La Soul, (1991)
- Midnight Marauders – A Tribe Called Quest, (1993)
- Illmatic – Nas, (1994)
- A Love Supreme – John Coltrane, (1965)