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Today is:
Quality: The Album Review
By Constant

After two classics like Mos Def and Talib Kweli are Black Star (with Mos Def, of course) and Reflection Eternal: Train of Thought (with Hi -Tek) many wondered what Kweli would do solo. Although he carried the Train of Thought album lyrically, this next album: Quality would be without the beat maker for the majority of the previous two albums. Even Kweli's greatest fans had to be concerned. Would this album run as smooth, would it be a cohesive piece of work that you can listen to from front to back or would you hear a couple of hot tracks but wind up saying: “Kweli made a mistake, I wish he had Hi - Tek doing the beats”?

Well, Kweli answered and answered loud and clear putting together an excellent piece of work with a message. From love of woman & kids, to community uplifting, to just having a good time, Kweli brings the soul with a fervor and passion that has to be commended. An album you can play from front to back, Quality brings all these messages and more while filling you in on the big picture: This guy is one of the best in the game, “underground” or not!

With production from some of Hip-Hop’s best (but usually underrated) producers like DJ Scratch, Ayatollah, Megahertz, DJ Quik, Jay Dee(J Dilla), The Soulquarians, Kayne (the in) West, De La Soul’s Dave West and newcomer Dahoud Darien, Quality feels like a road trip rather than a walk around the block. The beats range from hard hitters to 60’s 70’s music with a new twist. Kweli is a visionary he sees what happens on a bigger level, comments on it, tells why it is happening and gives thoughts for and of the future.

Rush is the album’s first song and it asks you to feel the rush through a fevered series of drums, horns and heated bass guitar. Kweli brings from the background to lay claim to his rightful place in Hip Hop: the frontier.

Get By, the current club favorite is a jewel, from the spirited voice of Nina Simone in the beginning to Kweli’s story of what people in particular minorities do just to get by. A world where the long term isn’t often highlighted rather the quick fix to a bigger problem. The chorus is reflective and it will make you think if you listen: “This morning, I woke up, feeling brand new, and I jumped up, feeling my highs, and my lows, my soul, and my goals, just to stop smoking and drinking, well I’ve been thinking, I got my reasons, just to get by, just to get by, just to get by.”

Shock Body produced by DJ Scratch features the sound of a superhero’s welcome. Equip with trumpets and singing women, Kweli kills it from the start with lyrics like: “Bust how Talib Kweli Greene do it, what I bring to it, you here the theme music, my rhymes are life support, dog breath to it!”

Joy brings Kweli together with Mos Def (sorry, only singing the hook) to talk about the joy of having his two children and their birth circumstances.

Waitin For The DJ and Talk To You (Lil' Darlin) both features Philadelphia’s Bilal and both aren't your typical rap songs for the album. Waitin’ features a DJ Quik guitar picked beat reminiscent of a funk band, while Talk To You produced by The Soulquarians takes you back to a time when R&B wasn’t about how racy you sounded but about love and the little things we take for granted as a part of love.

Guerrilla Monsoon Rap features Black Thought and Pharoahe Monch and they destroy a Kayne West beat from the get go. From Thought’s “I hit these MC’s with the grip of death like I was a Vulcan ain’t a lot of ifs n ands its just straight talkin’ to Kweli's “One by one I knock em out like Schooly D, my rhymes a eulogy, a flea can move a tree before you think of movin’ me” to Pharoahe’s “Guerrilla Monsoon Rap, smell the fumes, get in tune wit it, When I hit CD-R gonna think Dr. Doom did it!

The Proud display Kweli’s thoughts on the recent events including the 9/11 events and the repercussions and attitudes they have brought on.

Stand To The Side is a poem that was performed by Kweli on Def Comedy Jam (hosted by fellow Black Star, Mos Def) and in it Kweli asks for people to be responsible, fight against their struggles and for what they believe in. Singers Novel and Vinia Mojica add their voices to the mix for a moving tune.

Baby Won’t You Stay (“the best part of the trip”) is a love story about that love that feels so wrong but so right at the same time. A contradiction. Throughout the love there are those incidents that make you think this can’t work.

Kweli also pays tribute to Weldon Irvine in Where Do We Go with Philly’s Res, a violin tune with sadness but purpose.

I’ll give Quality 5 globes, its creative, inspiring, shows Kweli’s diverse musical taste and his wicked skills on the mic. The album also does a great job of changing tones, from fast to slow, slow to fast, old school to contemporary. This is an album for your life collection!




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