Talib Kweli “Gutter Rainbows” Review
A comprehensive track by track review of Talib Kweli’s latest album, by @TheJayGrove
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After the Rain
The introductory skit lets us into the new collection of music by showing us the humorous side of the Blacksmith family. The people talking are speaking about some of the ridiculous things they want to do when they get some money like â€œgettinâ€™ some rims and puttinâ€™ rims on â€˜emâ€ & â€œwear house shoes that are gonna be heelies so he can slide around the house like Usher during the Confessions tour.â€ This is hilarious to say the least, and a great way to start things off.
Itâ€™s fitting this is the title track to this latest collection. The instrumentation is beautiful, melodic and soothing, but the words delivered on top of them are gritty. They tell a vivid picture of hood life from a different viewpoint. The words tell how people are able to survive through the struggle and find beauty in the most horrendous situations. It is simply brilliant.
The almost eerie music shakes you as soon as it starts. The haunting words of the song make you think about the low points youâ€™ve had in your life, but then it makes you see beyond them. It makes you remember those points where youâ€™ve recognized the necessity of negativity and how they make you appreciate those points where you have ascended. Yes itâ€™s true, Talib Kweli is a great emcee, but he lets us know he is still human. Celebrities are not immune to insecurities, but he tells about finding the inner strength to keep it moving.
Palookas feat. Sean Price
Just like Talib says before he actually starts to rap, the track seems like its from a tv show in the 60s, which is not a bad thing at all. The track is like a set up for Kweli basically clowning sub par rappers. The chorus says exactly what he really thinks â€œYou ainâ€™t got a verse better than my worse one.â€ I could imagine Flavor Flav saying â€œWooooooowâ€ as other rapperâ€™s ego is quickly deflated every time he says it. There something to be said for a man who, even Jay-Z had to give props to. â€œIf lyrics sold, truthfully, Iâ€™ll be Talib Kweli.â€ â€œPalookasâ€ (which means an incompetent, easily defeated or clumsy person) is a uniquely great title and awesome song!
Mr. International feat. Nigel Hall
Many people want to be entertainers. The wealth, the travel and the life celebrities lead seem very glamorous, but it also takes a lot of work that goes into it. That is exactly what this song is talking about. Many times we complain about our 9-5 jobs when entertainers seem to never get any time off. Traveling is great because you get to see new places and meet new people, but when doing so, youâ€™re neglecting the ones closest to you. Fame is a double edge sword and â€œMr. Internationalâ€ makes you take a different perspective of the life so many of us think we want.
Iâ€™m on One
Ed Lover, with his famous catch phrase â€œCâ€™mon, son,â€ introduces this track with one of those throwback type beats. It makes you dance as Talib Kweli boastfully lets you know heâ€™s the best with rhymes like â€œOh yeah, I flow a little, you might of heard of me. Producers got restraining orders â€˜cause I murder beats.â€ Some tells lies while in the booth, Kweli, while bragging, is speaking the truth.
Wait for You feat. Kendra Ross
Another track that would fit in perfect in the set of a modern day jazz band serves as the backdrop for this song. We always hear â€patience is a virtue,â€ but we canâ€™t always wait for things to happen in life. Sometimes you have to MAKE things happen. â€œWait For Youâ€ tells us anything we want, we have to practice and work hard to try to achieve. Nobody is going to wait for you and sometimes on the road to greatness; you may have to leave some people behind. Itâ€™s a sad, but true reality. People say rappers never have any lessons to teach. Songs like this show they truly donâ€™t listen.
Ainâ€™t Waiting feat. Outasight
An up tempo song with a sped up delivery shows everybody how males feel when we meet a young lady we want to get to know. Our egos may force us to tell her we â€œainâ€™t waitingâ€ for her when we know that couldnâ€™t be further from the truth. Itâ€™s funny to hear the contradictions in the rap because thatâ€™s what most of us do. Dang, Kweli, you didnâ€™t have to let the women know how we think.
Pianos that sound like they belong behind a preacher in a pulpit and a vocal choir to match let you know this song is not to be taken lightly. Every syllable is used to perfection and the delivery certainly matches that. â€œWeâ€™re freedom writers like Bob Moses, the chosen. Freedom writers like Voltaire. For my block, my borough, my hood, my city, my state, yeah! My obligation to my community is so clear! Yeah, we gotta save â€˜em, the opportunityâ€™s so rare.â€ Names of people some may not know are presented in a way that makes us want to find out who they are. Much is said in a song that is only 2 minutes and 36 seconds long, but the message lasts a lot longer.
Friends & Family
Friends and family are things money canâ€™t buy and in this song their importance is explained through the eyes of the Brooklyn rapper. This is a thank you song to the fans, friends and family who have supported Kweli over the years. Itâ€™s refreshing to hear an entertainer show gratitude for the people who have helped them get to where they are. We appreciate the appreciation.
Contrary to what you may think about the song by glancing at the title, this song is incredibly intriguing. It tells a very detailed story (that I will not give away) and has you hanging on each and every word as if your life depended it on it. It takes a real emcee to be able to do something like that and Mr. Kweli continues to prove his a force to be reckoned with.
How You Love Me feat. Blaq Toven
A rapper has to be â€˜gangstaâ€™ at all times and show no emotions. Emotions are taboo among males, especially rappers. This is how we think, right? Itâ€™s good to see Talib Kweli and Blaq Toven donâ€™t think like that. â€œHow You Love Meâ€ tells about the highs and lows we normally experience when in a relationship. It makes us realize that you can argue with a person, but disagreements will seem petty if you simply think about the incredible high you feel when you realize how they love you.
Uh Oh feat. Jean Grae
The music is hyped up enough to catch those who donâ€™t normally listen to Talib from the very beginning. Jean Grae, one of the greatest emcees to ever grab a hold of a microphone, goes first on this track. Her sarcasm, word play and clever lines makes her whole verse like a giant quotable. The way she rides the beat makes it seem as if it were created just for her. Her verse starts off by saying â€œPsychopath. Ride a tri-cycle in a bikerâ€™s club. Mike Tyson face tattedâ€¦.like it rough?â€ And not to be outdone, Talib starts his verse by saying â€œIâ€™m a man of God, who asked the devil for some faceÂ time.â€ Are you kidding me? I know I canâ€™t be the only one who gets hyped up over great emcees! If I am, then so be it. The combo of Talib & Jean is deadly; therefore, this song has no choice, but to be great.
Self Savior feat. Chace Infinite
A muted trumpet over mid tempo piano seems to put you in a different mind state as you are almost forced to actually pay attention to the lyrics. â€œMy style married my substance, and now theyâ€™re living in harmony,â€ says Kweli during one his verse. The line stands out because it shows, no matter what it is you want to speak about, music is able to be harmonious with a message. Chace Infinite follows the subject matter wonderfully as he tells what it takes to be a self-savior. The song shows, while it is great to help others, sometimes you have to first worry about saving yourself.
Overall, the digital only release (in the US), â€œGutter Rainbowsâ€ does not disappoint in any way, shape or form. For those hip-hop heads that are looking for clever music with messages of prosperity and overcoming the struggle, youâ€™ll find exactly what youâ€™re looking for. For those who want to hear heart-warming love songs, Talib has you covered there as well. Hey, even those who are just looking for some good beats to make you dance will find those on here as well. You want to know some stand out songs? Well, my favorites areâ€¦.the ENTIRE album! Honestly, there are no filler tracks on here. It doesnâ€™t even matter what type of music fan you are, you will truly enjoy the latest from Talib Kweli.
On a scale of 1 (meaning trash) to 5 (meaning classic), “Gutter Rainbows” lands a 5 with a new classic from Talib Kweli.
Support the art and the artist and purchase “Gutter Rainbows” here.