True hip hop titan Talib Kweli returns to take his residence in our ears again with his new album “Eardrum.” The new album is Kweli’s fifth solo effort, and it is undoubtedly his most ingeniously crafted. He has always been admired for his brilliant lyricism and has always incorporated intellectual views and subject matter into a genre that is normally criticized for lack of substance.
The album opens with “Everything Man,” which features a spoken word poet explaining the way she fell in love with the rapper who is “always punctual with his mouth.” Kweli then breaks into “Say Somethin’,” in which he boasts his lyricism and invites any MC out there to even dare to challenge him. Later in the album, he spits a sex ballad of sorts as he puts us “In the Mood” over comrade Kanye West’s upbeat melody. Kweli follows this track with the beautifully soft song “Soon the New Day” featuring Norah Jones, which is about the fun of going out and one-night stands. Hip hop master poet KRS-One makes an apperance on “The Perfect Beat,” where KRS’ style apparently rubs off on Kweli and we hear the hard-hitting bars we are accustomed to from Kweli’s old days. Finally, on “Listen,” the album’s single, he compellingly gets us to lend him our ears for his lecture on our nation and the state of hip hop, and where they both seem to be headed. He has a way of getting his messages across without having to use gimmicks; he is simply, as he says, “Loud as a whisper, quiet as a lion’s roar.”
Kweli says, “I believe, no scratch that I know, this ain’t my full potential/Only using 10 percent of my mental on instrumentals,” which is great news for us because there is so much more brilliance to come from this masterful lyricist. Kweli’s album is perfect for the true fans of real hip hop.
Dan Buyanovsky may be contacted at Danbuyanovsky@yahoo.com.