Talib Kweli: Radio Silence

- I'm not entirely sure when the world at large gave up on Brooklyn emcee Talib Kweli. Sometimes I think I exist purely in my own bubble and maybe no one in their right mind ever gave a damn. Though I am pretty sure that there is a select group of humans that still bang his shit on the reg, Kweli's name is not one that has come up in my own personal zeitgeist in quite some time indeed. About a decade ago Kweli was one of the most exciting and thought provoking rappers in a burgeoning sea of conscious hip-hop that re-emerged in the early 2000s as the counterpoint of the epic and overwhelming commercialisation and moral bankruptcy of much modern day rap music. While conscious hip-hop and backpack rap had their blinding time in the sun, once prominent artists such as Mos Def, Kid Cudi, Common, Lupe Fiasco and Kweli himself have faded out of the public eye despite still producing worthwhile music, some arguably the best of their dwindling careers.

The planet we live on is a weird, wild and fickle place. I've come to terms with the fact that talent doesn't always equal success, yet it's still slightly maddening when my boy Talib Kweli can't catch a break in a world currently caught between trap and mumble rap. On solo full-length number eight, the appropriately titled Radio Silence, Kweli has delivered one of the most succinct, timeless and listenable records of his illustrious career. His last album, Fuck The Money, appeared out of the blue as a free download, and despite the palatable price tag, didn't garner the emcee much traction. It didn't even warrant enough attention for a simple goddamn Wikipedia entry. With a name like Radio Silence it doesn't seem that Talib Kweli has a huge amount of faith in the world at large getting back on board his personal bandwagon, but regardless this hasn't appeared to dull his personal flame.

Radio Silence unfolds with The Magic Hour, an upbeat and rapturous statement piece that doesn't let up for one second once the beat drops. Kweli lets it be known he hasn't fallen off; "Last one to fall asleep / first one to wake up/ All-nighters / 6:20 in the a.m. man / it's the magic hour." This opening track sets the scene and makes it absolutely clear that this hip-hop veteran hasn't lost an once of the power that propelled him towards success in the beginning. Kweli might have every reason to take his foot off the gas and question his place in the industry but he remains positive, politically charged and socially aware. His delivery is tight and his vocal stylings are a joy to behold. The production throughout is top notch and flows well despite the numerous producers on board. The guest vocalists are varied and never detract from Kweli's personal vision; hell even the banging contribution from trap lord Waka Flocka Flame doesn't seem out of place nestled between two very introspective solo cuts. There's even a surprise and killer verse from the ever mysterious Jay Electronica; a dude that has had his debut studio album on the cards for over a decade with no release in sight.

Radio Silence is a delightful reminder that Talib Kweli still exists and more importantly he shows no signs of slowing down despite a lack of traction in recent years. At just a tickle over the forty-five minute mark the record doesn't overstay it's welcome and is delivered in a tight and tasty package ripe for aural consumption by just about any hip-hop fan. In a world in which instant gratification rules supreme, it would be a real shame if Radio Silence doesn't get a chance to be heard outside those select few die-hards still keeping the dream alive.

- Jay Edwards.


Album Details

Album Title: Radio Silence
Artist: Talib Kweli
Record Label: (Javotti Media)