talib kweli – banging the drum slowly

photo by steed media service

Hip-Hop Artist

“If skills sold/Truth be told/I’d probably be/Lyrically/Talib Kweli.”
That famous name-dropping in a verse from 2003’s “Moment of Clarity”
conveyed that megastar Jay-Z, like many hip-hop heads, recognized the
skill and intellect of fellow Brooklyn son, Talib Kweli. Now, after the
release of Eardrum, his sixth effort and first on his own Blacksmith
label; Kweli himself sits at the start of a new chapter in his career.

“I’m not an artist who’s thought of as your traditional mainstream
artist,” explains Kweli. “So the idea that I can put out the type of
album I want on my own label and also sign other artists speaks

Founding Blacksmith was a mere extension of Kweli’s current state of
mind and, in the midst of ever-growing frustration with most hip-hop
that gets airplay, Kweli understood that he had to have a strong stable
of artists along for the ride.

“In order to have forward movement you can’t really do it alone, and
you need to have people around you that are going to challenge you,” he
says. “Creatively, that’s the draw about having a label and dealing
with artists like Strong Arm Steady and Jean Grae.”As Eardrum
indicates, Kweli is far from creatively stagnant. He’s also taken his
communal approach to political activism, he and Mos Def are longtime
affiliates of the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement and Black August,
trying to bring awareness to the plight of political prisoners and
issues that affect people of color globally, and Kweli is participating
in the Fort Greene Fest – a celebration of the Brooklyn community.

“People always come up to me and Mos and they treat us like hip-hop
activists,” Kweli shares. “I think someone who’s out there on the front
lines [in the] community and dealing with [issues that affect] black
people truly needs my support.” – todd williams

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