Talib Kweli has never been afraid to bend lines when it comes to his artistic aspirations, even if it brings criticism from those who hold tight to those limits.
While the rapper was deejaying venues around the country and was being vocal in community causes, he also released two albums last year — his fifth solo record, Gutter Rainbows, and a clash of pop, funk and soul vibes on his collaboration LP with singer Res, Habits of the Heart. With the arrival of his sixth solo album, Prisoner of Conscious, coming in November, Kweli looks to paint over stubborn labels of those who dismiss his work as just “positive conscious rap.”
“You know people have expectations of the music that I make,” he tells The BoomBox. “Not so much based on my album but based on my perception and I wanted to try to make an album that would sort of defy those expectations.”
Besides guest appearances from singer Melanie Fiona, Black Hippy’s Kendrick Lamarand Young Money’s Busta Rhymes, he also has a special international guest on the album. Brazil’s Seu Jorge worked with Kweli on a song called “Favela Love.”
“That was really a dream come true,” the MC explains. “I actually went down to São Paulo for the purpose of being inspired for this album and I tweeted that I would like to work with him and then his manager hit me and a couple of hours later we were working.”
Kweli further described “Favela Love” saying, “It’s about a love for neighborhoods in Brazil, favelas. But it’s talking about these neighborhoods as if they were a woman.”
Aside from promoting this new album, the Brooklyn native’s musical interests have led to his interest in deejaying regularly throughout New York City. Even though many DJs today never touch vinyl due to changing technology, he recalls collecting vinyl as a teenager, discovering hip-hop in its golden era.
“My vinyl collection, most of it comes from my father and then when I was teenager, I was always buying vinyl, just because that’s how we listened to hip-hop,” Kweli reveals.
The rhymer brings The BoomBox down memory lane as he opens up about five of his favorite vinyl purchases.