Release Date: Jan 25, 2011
Record label: Javotti Media
On 2007's Eardrum, alt-rap hero Talib Kweli teamed with big-name producers (will.i.am) and fancy guest stars (Justin Timberlake), hiking his backpack all the way up to Number Two on the album charts. But Kweli's flirtation with the mainstream is over. Gutter Rainbows is unabashed conscious-rap classicism, with a luscious, string-swamped soul sound and rhymes that tout the MC's left-of-center cred.
Talib Kweli :: Gutter RainbowsBlacksmith/Javotti MediaAuthor: Steve 'Flash' Juon"Gutter Rainbows" is not the first time Talib Kweli has experimented with an unconventional means of releasing his music. In 2005 he bootlegged his own album. In 2007 he released a FREE album with Madlib called "Liberation" online, although the download vanished from the Stones Throw website a week later.
Here's a phrase I haven't heard too often: "What the fuck was Kweli thinking?" I know that as far as conscious-skewing MCs go, Talib Kweli's had his share of detractors-- mostly people who consider him too reliant on pop-culture metaphors or just plain don't like his voice-- but he's never managed to stumble his way into alienating the audience he already has. And while he hasn't always been quite as breathlessly venerated as peers like Common or Mos Def, he's also never dropped a Universal Mind Control or a True Magic, a fanbase-disillusioning pratfall that lacks everything the faithful like about him. (At least, not too prominently-- his one big detour, the electro-damaged pastel-stripe-rap side project Idle Warship, got one of those quietly promoted free-download releases in 2009, the equivalent of a big-budget action movie released in mid-January.
When a revolutionary puts down roots On Gutter Rainbows’ “Friends and Family,” Talib Kweli proudly contextualizes his career, nodding to his Black Star days after opening the track with the proclamation “we are now witnessing the demise of the music business. ” With Gutter Rainbows visibly self-released and its associated press work proudly proclaiming that it was created outside the normal machinery of the hip-hop industry, it’s a symbolic move that completes the circle for an artist who frequently has found himself well out in front of the wave. That said, the actual content of Gutter Rainbows feels surprisingly conservative at a time when the juicy center of the mainstream (e.
With Gutter Rainbows, Talib Kweli aims for an enlightened brand of hip-hop and succeeds, but with only a few tracks; the rest form a mixed bag of mediocre mainstream efforts seemingly plucked from a generic album blueprint. Gutter Rainbows, the first song on the album, does an admiral job of introducing the record's themes of finding the optimism and beauty among despair. Unfortunately, the track's insight and quality will not be matched until Cold Rain, seven songs later.
Talib Kweli is certainly one of the more consistent artists hip-hop has to offer. Going into his music, there’s always an implicit understanding that you’re going to get literary references, rallies against social institutions, allusions to political figures. Usually, you could also expect his verbosity to get the best of him at times, forgoing technical style for lyrical flair.
For over a decade, Talib Kweli has tried, to mixed success, a variety of sounds. Nearly a decade and a half removed from his introduction, the Brooklyn mainstay remains a sharp lyricist who goes unafraid of calling out social institutions, wack rappers and critics alike. Still, the Black Star/Reflection Eternal emcee wants the world to know that he can have a good time, and recent albums have found Kweli with a smile.
From the day Talib Kweli made his studio debut with Mos Def on 1998’s Black Star, he’s been the uncontested king of underground hip-hop. His collection of solo releases, as well as the two he did with DJ Hi-Tek under the Reflection Eternal moniker, has been equally well-received and influential. So it should come as no surprise that Gutter Rainbows, his fifth solo effort, is underground gold.
It’s truly hard to imagine the world Talib Kweli lives in. Sure, we have some data points — for instance, based on his conviction that he’s coming “from another angle” with this, his new album Gutter Rainbows, he clearly thinks it’s 1995. That must take some work. If he’s living in the first term of the Clinton administration, what does he make of all these rappers wandering around in day-glo and playing guitars? Does he understand what Fruity Loops is? I guess maybe at first he heard some 808 and thought he’d slipped back to 1985, but he should’ve caught on when Kid Cudi had to tell him that hoverboards don’t work on water.
An instrumentally smooth but fiercely focused fifth LP from the Brooklyn rapper. Lewis G. Parker 2011 When he spoke of the need for "less misogyny, less curses; let’s put more depth in our verses," in 2007, Talib Kweli’s approach to rap seemed to clang with the attitude of the A-list boasters who fronted the genre. But the Brooklyn rapper who broke out on Rawkus Records with his Mos Def collaboration, Black Star, in 1998, continues to release upbeat, reflective albums that draw sighs of modesty from critics and the game’s most shameless braggers alike.