Talib Kweli may be branded a “conscious” rapper, but he’s not at all an elitist rapper.
The acclaimed lyricist was asked for his take on teenage rappers like Chief Keef and Lil Mouse, who’s grim and violent rhymes have come under criticism as of late. Both teens are products of Chicago’s crime-ridden neighborhoods, and Kweli says that he isn’t worried about how young they are — he’s more worried about where they come from.
“I don’t care because that’s like a novelty thing,” Kweli said in an interview with Karmaloop TV. “I don’t know who Lil’ Mouse is but as far as Chief Keef, Chief Keef is obviously a product of his environment. He’s somebody who comes out of a very horrifically violent neighborhood of Chicago.”
Kweli also explained that the public has to allow an artist to grow and evolve. And he added that he believes it’s better for Keef to rap about violence than to participate in violence.
“Whether you think he’s skilled or not, what he’s doing is extremely positive,” the Brooklyn native explained. “Even if he’s gangbanging on records, I’d rather him gangbang on records than in the streets and if you gangbang on records, you’re at some point going to have respect for music and you’re going to grow out of that. Snoop Dogg used to gangbang on records, now he’s Snoop Lion. If Chief Keef could get to Snoop’s stage, his content will change, you’ll see him grow up. I want to see him live, I don’t want to see him die.”
Kweli’s comments come only a week after he drew the ire of some feminists by suggesting that they address Miami rap superstar Rick Ross “with love” in the wake of the backlash over Ross’ controversial “U.O.E.N.O.” lyrics, which many interpreted as condoning date rape.