The Brooklyn MC’s Return is Most Triumphant.
Altho’ I had read about “Reflection Eternal”, “Black Star”, and “Quality”, my first introduction to Talib Kweli was on Kanye West’s “The College Dropout”.
A few months after that, Kweli’s “Beautiful Struggle” album came out, and I immediately copped because I was sick to death of Crunk, Guns, Bling, and anything with the letter “G” or the word “Unit” [||] in it.
Kweli is back with “Eardrum”, and I’m reviewing it because, dangit, I’m running out of lists of lists. Enjoy.
Let’s start with Beats– I’m a picky bastard when it comes to production, and the only bad thing I can say about the beats on this album is that some of the drums sound the same. Basically, that’s like saying “This girl is hot with a great rack, likes Star Wars and Hooters, but she always wears the same shoes.” Fuck that. With contributions from production powerhouses Just Blaze, Kanye West, & Will.I.Am, as well as his old running buddy Hi-Tek, and a couple solid contributions from the veteran Pete Rock and others, the sonic landscape of “Eardrum” has been beautifully manicured to the most Mexican of Landscaping Precision. (that totally made sense, you shut up.) Justin Timberlake allegedly makes a beat on this album, but I don’t believe for a second that he did anything but play with the boards until the other 2 “co-producers” kicked his lil’ ass off. (Dope beat tho’).
Fave Beat– “Listen!!!”.
But How is Dem Rhymes, Uncle The Hussein?– Well bloggateers, dem rhymes be mad phat. No, seriously. Kweli’s inflection and cadence kinda got to me on “Beautiful Struggle”, but I think my ears have evolved (the right one can breathe fire!) to the point where I pick out lyrics over that other stuff, and Kweli is razor f’n sharp lyrically here. I mean, he raps fast, but dangit, this guy rhymes his ass off. Not just in terms of clever lyrics–I mean, I made the “bitter beer face” like 200 times during the course of the album cuz some of the shit he said was ridic-no homo-ulous. No, what I mean by “rhymes his ass off” is that he goes inside and out [||] with the flow rhyming dang near every other word of every line. It’s incredible.
Fave Verse– Verse 1 of “Listen!!!”, but really, it’s like picking your favorite child.
Who he got on the album? They aight?– UGK, Kanye West, Norah Jones, Jean Grae, Musiq Can’tSpellChild, Dustbin Timberlake, Strong Arm Steady, KRS-1 & a few others all make solid contributions. Another reviewer on another site said the UGK Collabo felt forced, but I rather enjoyed the Norff to Souff props. It reminded me or a more wistful, better-lyrically version of “The Player Way” off Ma$e’s “Harlem World” album. Kanye’s verse was cool for about 12 bars, and then he went kinda “Ehh..” on us. Norah Jones is f’n amazing. The two contributors I enjoyed the most were, surprisingly, KRS-1 and Justin Timberlake. KRS-1 might be 156 years old, but dude’s voice and lyrics sound like they could really be from any time in hip-hop. Dustbin took a break from his normal Timba-bland Falsetto nonsense to deliver some nice vocals on his track.
Best Collabo– Kweli & Norah Jones. (and Norah, if you’re reading this, shout me a holla….just don’t tell Greenie.)
Cool, Cool. Anything Else?– Kweli doesn’t go crazy with off the wall concepts, but his overall messages about music, religion, government/politics, and the community are all incredibly strong. In particular, I enjoyed the concepts of “Hell” and “More or Less” a lot.
Overall Rating– Here at It Ain’t That Serious, we’ve given a lot of thought about what kind of rating we would use on our reviews. I can’t do mics, t-shirt sizes are just silly, and stars are boring. I’ve chosen to use: Boobs.
A Cup = Terrible. Aural Herpes.
B Cup = Ehh, has it’s moments.
C Cup = Just over the line into “Good territory”.
D Cup = Enjoyment has been attained. Brag to your buddies.
DD Cup = Perfection. Line up for High 5s, you lucky bastard.
Soooooo given that, I’d give Talib Kweli’s “Eardrum” a solid D Cup rating. Homeboy kicked ass and took names. A quality purchase at any price.
NOW GO BUY THE DANG THING AND QUIT BEING A DOWNLOAD WHORE!