November Album: Talib Kweli – Prisoner Of Conscious

For the last 15 years Talib Kweli has been a constant in my world. First through Black Star with Mos Def, then Reflection Eternal with DJ Hi Tek and then on his own. I fully admit I had a bias towards this album even before I listened to it; it was going to be good…. Because rarely is Talib Kweli not on point.

Banishing my personal bias I present to you Talib Kweli’s ‘Prisoner of Conscious’. An album that was delayed for about a year an the album that Kweli claimed that he was making for himself and was going to be different from previous realses of his.

Baring that I’m still not understanding what he has done so different from previous releases I have very few issues with this album. It’s strong, versatile hip hop.

Though Kweli could easily stand alone on his album he’s filled it with some great appreaences from the likes of Busta Rhymes, the Rza, Nelly and an amazing 18 bars from Kendrick Lemar.

Why did I choose this album this month; when I think about it I think it’s fairly straight forward. I like listening to Talib Kweli, he’s more than a MC, he’s a story teller. He makes good albums, and hopefully you’ll think the same.

13 comments

  1. David Allison

    First impressions: a very solid album, nice feel, nice flow, but not terribly standout. Reminds me of some K-Os’s early stuff that’s got strong hooky samples, but somehow it sounds like it could have been made 10 years ago. However, early days, so I’ll report back when I’ve spent more time with it.

  2. David Allison

    OK. So I’m a bit stuck in the middle with our Talib. It’s a very pleasant listen, it flows nicely, it’s very warm. But…but…I can’t get a hold of it somehow. I can’t find a way in or a hook that’s dragging me to say LISTEN TO THIS MANY TIMES.

    As I said in my earlier comment, it somehow doesn’t feel that contemporary. And it reminds me of quite a lot of hip hop that I really like. So it feels very familiar and comfortable, but it also feels not as urgent or as necessary as a result.

    I don’t know. I’d like to know more about what floats your boat about this album, Nolan. It might help me get a handle on it more.

  3. nolankane706

    Brother David, I’m very confused of what you want out of a Hip Hop album. This time last year you didn’t like Kendrick Lemar, Jon Connor doesn’t seem to be doing it for you and last year you also weren’t feeling A$AP Rocky if I remember correctly. That in my mind is contemporary hip hop over the last year and a bit.

    Is this the best album that Talib has made? No. What I do think is that he has made a solid album that is familiar. I don’t think this is a bad thing.

    I suppose it’s what you want out of an album. I think I can listen to this album from start to finish and like it. I’ve struggled to find that over the lat 12 months with albums that I have bought.

    There are few artists that I can say last on my radar past their second album; this is his his 9th and a 10th will be out soon. All of his albums I come back to and I think I always will. It’s good Hip Hop plain and simple; and that’s why I like it.

  4. David Allison

    You’re quite right, Brother Nolan, the problem might be me (though I came to really like Kendrick Lemar in the end!). Listening to hip hop, just like listening to any genre of music, is a habit. And when you’re not listening to it that often, it can seem quite dense and hard to find a way into. So yeah, I hold my hands up, the problem may be me.

    Having said all that, I don’t find this album a difficult listen at all. It’s warm and a good thing to have on. It just maybe hasn’t grabbed me by the throat. That’s why I was asking what particularly floated your boat about it. No fear, I shall listen on and see how it goes…

  5. misterstory

    I discussed this one with Nolan face to face a few weeks ago and to be honest I’ve not really changed my mind since. It’s not for me. I think David makes a good point ‘Listening to hip hop, just like listening to any genre of music, is a habit. And when you’re not listening to it that often, it can seem quite dense and hard to find a way into.’ I like this, I think its bang on. I am out of the habit of listening to hip hop and it does take a Kendrick Lamar or A$AP Rocky to get me interested. This sounds a bit tired and thoughtless to me. Talib is known for being the intelligent fan’s rapper but for me there is little of his trademark deepness of thought or vocal virtuosity. It feels like a bunch of tracks (some great) thrown together which doesn’t tip the balance as an album for me. Unfortunately I think the guest vocals underline the weaknesses of the album (as they often do on less Hip Hop albums). Anyway, sorry to be negative on this one but it’s not for me.

  6. whyohwhyohwhy

    Afternoon brothers. I think I’m on Brother Joseph’s tip here. I just don’t really listen to much modern hip-hop – I’m a standard ‘classics’ kind of guy (J5, De la, Ice Cube, Erik B, Sugarill Gang, etc etc) – and even not that much hip-hop in general. Even without kids, my listening time to music’s limited and given that when I’m listening I’m usually travelling somewhere, I find that I struggle with hip-hop because I either listen to it and can’t concentrate on it fully or I don’t listen to it for that reason, that it also distracts me from the task at hand, so I have to invest 100% into it, and that’s usually only when running (though that’s where I’ve listened to this album, and also Pop Life before it).

    But the bottom line is that I don’t really have much that blows me away much these days. I listen to so much music as it is – much of it electronic, by non-day job alone – that I find I’m always going to stuff that I like and sadly I’m just not attuned to hip-hop nearly as much as I used to be. I love it, but I find I do in quite a disposable way, in a few songs at a time, or lisetning to mixes or compilations I can dip in and out of. As such, getting into an entire album’s harder for me.

    As for Talib, it’s nice, I like the flow, and the music, and the hooks, but it’s not grabbed me after a few listens. I’m not going to give up yet, but given that I couldn’t even get into Kendrick Lamar or A$AP’s stuff either, he’s up against it. I salute your continued love for it in all its forms Brother Nolan, but I think sadly, as I get older, my love for it – beyond stuff I’m already familiar with – is on the wane.

    • David Allison

      I think this thread should be called ‘Old bastards throw the towel in’ 😉
      Seriously, though, it’s funny how listening to any kind of genre of music is a habit. I still listen to a lot of psych influenced rock and leftfield pop – stuff that some of my mates would think was a bit ‘weird’ or ‘difficult’ but because I listen to lots of it, it doesn’t feel that way to me. But if I came to that same music cold, it would probably feel more alien.

      Maybe it’s no coincidence that the hip hop outfit that I’ve been most excited about in the last couple of years are Shabazz Palaces. They just sound so odd and there’s a definite weirdy pysch feel to their grooves and it just sounds exciting to me. They push my buttons in a way most hip hop doesn’t these days.

  7. misterstory

    ‘Old bastards throw in the towel’. Funny.

    …. but for me not accurate. My issues with this aren’t age/generation/grumpy-old-man-syndrome related. Far from it as this sounds exactly like TK from when I used to listen to TK 10 years ago. For me there’s just not enough.

    I am all over the map with Hip Hop. Love/Hate. I should really not like A$AP Rocky but I really do. I should like this but I don’t. For me if Hip Hop works it works and if it doesn’t then balls. I don’t think I listen to enough to be able to distinguish with any more logic than that. This is a good discussion though and I think the ‘habit’ debate is really interesting.

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