Talib Kweli
American rapper
Talib Kweli
Talib Kweli Greene, better known as Talib Kweli, is an American rapper. Kweli hails from Brooklyn, New York. His first name in Arabic means "student" or "seeker" (طالب); his middle name in Swahili means "true". Kweli first gained recognition through Black Star, a collaboration with fellow MC Mos Def.
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Black Masculinity and Black Faith: An Interview with J.Kwest
Huffington Post - 5 months
Racial justice is a constant headline in America. Whether it's Colin Kaepernick kneeling, the overlapping of gender and racial justice in the critical conversations surrounding Nate Parker's Birth of a Nation film, the importance of racial justice - and a healthy sense of black masculinities - is an urgent conversation. To advance that dialogue, I conducted an interview with the Emmy-Award winning artist and pastor, Rev. Julian "J.Kwest" DeShazier. Rev. DeShazier, the pastor of University Church in Chicago, recently released an album called Lemonade - before Beyoncé took over the charts with an landmark visual album of the selfsame title. The interview is centered on "Black Man", one of the standout tracks on a stellar album. What follows is a lightly edited interview I conducted with Rev. DeShazier discussing what it means to be a black man in America today. Andrew Wilkes: What made you pen the song Black Man? Rev. DeShazier: The easy answer is: look at what's going on! But a ...
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Is BDS Simply a 'Campus Movement?' How Deceitful Can Thomas Friedman Actually Be?
Huffington Post - 9 months
On May 25 the New York Times published an op-ed by Thomas Friedman with the incendiary title, "Netanyahu, Prime Minister of the State of Israel-Palestine," which attempts to show just how far the Israeli Prime Minister has gone to destroy any notion of a two-state solution. That Friedman would have only now caught on to the demise of such a possibility should indicate just how far out of touch he is. Friedman spends his space talking about Netanyahu's purging of Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon, and his naming of "far-right Avigdor Lieberman" as his Yaalon's replacement. But he begins his piece with this entrée: "Israel has recently been under intense criticism on the world stage. Some of it, like the 'boycott, divestment, sanctions' (B.D.S.) campaign, is a campus movement to destroy Israel masquerading as a political critique." Friedman seems to take always alluding in some way or another to BDS as an obligation. Not only does he do so with remarkable consistency, he also always g ...
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Macklemore & Ryan Lewis Got 'Schooled' On Race And White Privilege
Huffington Post - 12 months
Since the song "Thrift Shop" hit the airwaves in 2012, Macklemore has become entwined in countless conversations about race, racism and white privilege, something he's well aware he's benefitted from.  "Thrift Shop" thrust Macklemore and his musical partner/producer Ryan Lewis into the spotlight; the song went to No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, sat there for six weeks and went on to sell 7.9 million copies. The rapper even scored endorsement deals with the NBA and Dr. Pepper.  As Billboard notes, "the duo found a mass pop audience through a black art form." Their success and privilege were especially apparent when they won the Grammy for Best Rap Album in 2014, beating out Kendrick Lamar's "good kid, m.A.A.d. City." To make matters even more awkward, Macklemore texted Lamar, saying, "You got robbed," and then proceeded to Instagram a screenshot of said text.  Suffice it to say, the whole situation was terrible. But both Macklemore and Ryan Lewis are working to educate themse ...
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11 Things Every Die-Hard 'Hamilton' Fan Wants You To Know
Huffington Post - about 1 year
"Hamilton" is a Broadway musical. More specifically, it is a wildly popular musical about "a scrappy young immigrant who forever changed America." That scrappy young immigrant from the Caribbean is the titular Alexander Hamilton, played by prolific composer/lyricist/rapper (also a MacArthur "Genius Grantee" and, swoon, the show's writer) Lin-Manuel Miranda.  On stage, Miranda is supported by a hyper-talented and racially diverse cast of singers, rappers and dancers who deftly act out the highs and lows of Founding Fathers-era America. Together, they offer an unlikely, hip-hop-inspired retelling of the United States' revolutionary history, punctuated by dramatic, character-driven stories of ambition and revenge, all driven by Miranda's serendipitous decision to read a Hamilton biography while on vacation. You might have caught wind of the show on the Grammys Monday night. Or, perhaps you've been listening to their album -- the first-ever cast album to hit No. 1 on the Billboa ...
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Discussing All Things Awesome With Jazz is Phish
Huffington Post - about 1 year
Adam Chase is the founder of Jazz Is Phish as well as an accomplished drummer, percussionist, song writer, teacher and multi-instrumentalist. What I love most about Adam and what he has created in his life is the fact that he took what he loves and is passionate about, invited people he loves and respects to collaborate with him and created something magical from that intention. He is an incredibly inspiring human that we all could learn something from so I obviously had to interview him. Taraleigh: How did the concept for Jazz is Phish come to be? Adam: In my years of touring, I constantly came across incredible musicians that were closet Phish fans, but for some reason didn't want to admit it. It kind of reminded me of when children rebel against their parents in their attempts to form their own identities. They don't want to be associated with the thing that shaped them and influenced them for such a big chunk of their lives. It became apparent to me that if I could cr ...
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Killiam Shakespeare Scores Major Points With Debut Album
Huffington Post - about 1 year
I went to band camp. I'm no flautist, so we're okay there, but the five summers I spent at Encore/Coda, tucked away in the hamlet of Sweden, Maine, were some of the best times of my life. This one time, I had a counselor named Corey Bernhard, an unassuming badass on both the piano and the basketball court. Corey's quiet confidence preceded him - he was equally at home sinking jumper after jumper or taking kids to school in ensembles of any genre. It's no surprise, then, that his band, a joint effort with drummer and producer Steve McKie, exudes some those same qualities: Killiam Shakespeare's debut, out December 18th on Ropeadope Records, is flowing with nuance, texture and patience. I sat down with the pair to discuss their recording process, being comfortable in Philadelphia and the finer points of cheesesteakery. The duo has been making music for others for quite some time, as Corey recounts, "I met Steve playing in Bilal's band... for a good three to four years we were just t ...
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Smoke Season Releases 'Loose' Music Video, One of Four Part Video Series
Huffington Post - about 1 year
The music video for "Loose" walks you through a day in high school student Samantha's life, staring Lexi Ainsworth (General Hospital, Gilmore Girls), exploring her feelings for her classmate Hannah, played by Nicole Fox (ANTM, The Bold and The Beautiful). The video also stars Julian De La Calle (Ugly Betty, How to Get Away With Murder, Heroes, The Fosters) as Hannah's boyfriend who plays the bully in this tragic storyline. You are shown the relationship between the two girls ignite romantically while away from school grounds and the other students. Exchanging glances, kisses and enjoying intimate moments above the city streets, while back on campus, you are shown a harsh contrast with Samantha being exiled and ridiculed by fellow class mates and ignored by Hannah.  After a drunken show of affection at a party, you watch the devastation of Samantha's actions play out when back on school grounds.  The anxiety and fear bleed out as you are shown how very real and terrifying bullyi ...
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Rapsody Is Up Next
Huffington Post - over 1 year
From Left: (Rapsody, Kendrick Lamar) Emerging from North Carolina, the hip-hop artist known as Rapsody has quietly been making a name for herself in a big way. Few artists are able to say they have worked with Kendrick Lamar, and even fewer are able to say that Dr. Dre has given his public stamp of approval to them yet Rapsody is one of those artists. A Jehova's witness from a small town of less than 2000, this Homecoming and Prom Queen is on a path to greatness. Recently, I got the chance to sit down with her about how she got to where she is, and where she plans to go from here. Coming from Snow Hill, North Carolina, Rapsody comes from a place you would never expect a big hip-hop artist to. She has been a fan of hip hop her whole life. One day the now 27-year old artist was watching a documentary on VH1 where Jay Z said he used to study the dictionary to expand his vocabulary. Being that Jay Z has always been one of her inspirations she decided she wanted to start doing that t ...
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Ladies and Gentleman... Nigel Hall!
Huffington Post - over 1 year
Have you ever been so mesmerized by a musician that time stands still the moment they open their mouth? It seems like they are channeling something bigger than themselves and they can't help but create something magical right there right then. You feel you are witnessing something special that could only possibly happen once in a lifetime. Nigel Hall does just that at every single show and that magic comes across in his new album entitled "Ladies & Gentleman...Nigel Hall." I am a huge fan of Nigel and felt called to share his awesome with you all right here right now. Photo by Jay Sansone Here's a little about Nigel Hall if you don't know who he is yet. He grew up in a musical family and his fingers first touched the keys before he hit kindergarten age, and his ears were wide open. "I grew up with records," he said. "That's why I'm obsessed. My father had a vast collection. I'd be in third grade with my Walkman and everyone's listening to Ace of Bass, and I'm listening to "R ...
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Huffington Post article
jessica Care moore Mixes Art + Activism 'Tea'
Huffington Post - over 1 year
The famed poet's new full-length album, 'Black Tea: The Legend of Jessi James,' features Talib Kweli, Roy Ayers and more BY SUN SINGLETON Detroit is famous for its music, from Motown to techno and house, to Eminem and Dilla. But it's less well known for its stellar, homegrown poets. A native daughter of the D, jessica Care moore first won hearts with her five-time winning streak on It's Showtime at the Apollo back in 1995, after newly transplanting herself to New York City at age 22 a year after her father's death. A fiery performer of blunt-force truth emerged onstage that night. From a petite young woman in a demure dress and box braids exploded a voice that was unapologetically centered in her own visceral experiences as a hip-hop generation-identified sista poet. She knocked that famously tough Apollo audience out cold with the searing conviction of her Black-woman-uplifting poem, "Black Statue of Liberty." Moore's poetry has always been equal parts personal and ...
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Learn about memorable moments in the evolution of Talib Kweli
  • 2014
    On August 19, 2014, Kweli traveled to Ferguson, Missouri, to join the community in protesting the shooting of Michael Brown.
    More Details Hide Details Kweli joined South African artist Cassper Nyovest on a new remix of his single "Doc Shebeleza", a tribute to the Kwaito music icon of the same name. The original appeared on Nyovest's album Tsholofelo. The remix was produced by Anatii and was released on November 3, 2014, as a free digital download. This year, Kweli held two concerts to mark the one year anniversary of Michael Brown's death. The line up for the benefit show "Ferguson is Everywhere" featured Common, Bun B, M1 from Dead Prez, Rapsody, Tef Poe, Kendra Ross, Rebel Diaz, Jasiri X, Immortal Technique, and Pharoahe Monch.
  • 2013
    On August 7, 2013, Kweli traveled to Tallahassee to spend a night in the capital building with the Dream Defenders, a group of students that created a sit-in at the Florida governor's office to protest the state's stand-your-ground law.
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    Upon its May 7, 2013 release Prisoner of Conscious was met with generally favorable reviews from music critics, and debuted at number 48 on the Billboard 200 chart.
    More Details Hide Details The album feature appearances from Nelly, Miguel, Curren$y, Kendrick Lamar, and Busta Rhymes. With production by RZA, J. Cole, Oh No, Harry Fraud, and others. The selection of the tracks on this album were more experimental and worked towards illuminating musicality. Kweli then went on to release music videos for "Hamster Wheel", "Upper Echelon", and "Come Here and more." Shortly after in August 2013, Kweli announced that in 2014 he will release his next studio album, Gravitas which will contain production from Q-Tip. The album included guest appearances from Raekwon, Black Thought, and The Under Achievers with production by OhNo, Statik Selektah, and J Dilla.
  • 2012
    On October 1, 2012, Kweli spoke at a rally at city hall to urge the NYPD police to end their stop-and-frisk policy.
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  • 2011
    Kweli visited the Occupy Wall Street camp in October 2011 to show support for the protestors.
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    In 2011, Kweli founded Javotti Media, his independent label which currently includes developing artists Brazilian MC NIKO IS and spoken word poet Jessica Care Moore.
    More Details Hide Details Javotti is based out of Brooklyn, New York and has released the following...
    In 2011, Kweli was featured on the soundtrack for the film You Got Served: Beat the World with the song, "Infinite Love."
    More Details Hide Details Kweli's fifth solo album, Prisoner of Conscious, a title derived from Kweli's constant labeling as a "conscious rapper" and based on Nigerian reggae artist Majek Fashek's album Prisoner of Conscience. Before the release of "Rainbows", Kweli began working on "Prisoner", and put cuts originally intended for "Conscious" on "Rainbows". He also confirmed that he will reunite with Madlib to offer Liberation 2.
  • 2010
    In December 2010, Kweli appeared with Darryl McDaniels, Mix Master Mike and Ahmet Zappa on a cover of Frank Zappa's "Willie the Pimp" for The Frank Zappa AAAFNRAAAA Birthday Bundle 2010.
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    Kweli and DJ Hi-Tek released a second Reflection Eternal album titled Revolutions Per Minute on May 18, 2010.
    More Details Hide Details Revolutions per Minute was recorded at Electric Lady Studios. It is their second album after a 10-year hiatus. The album received generally positive reviews from most music critics, based on an aggregate score of 80/100 from Metacritic. Gutter Rainbows, Kweli's fourth solo album, was the first to be released by newly formed Javotti Media. The album was originally intended to be released in only a digital format. However, on November 16, 2010, Duck Down Records announced its plans to offer Gutter Rainbows a CD release outside US. This will include an import edition and a special edition with extras. In its first week, the album sold 13,900 copies in the United States.
  • 2009
    The mixtape was released as a free download on the website for Kweli's label Blacksmith with two different cover art options in late 2009.
    More Details Hide Details There were videos shot for two of the songs from the album: "Bedroom Lights" and "Black Snake Moan".
    Kweli was featured at the fifth installment of Hot 97 radio personality Peter Rosenberg's acclaimed live interview series "Noisemakers with Peter Rosenberg" on October 21, 2009.
    More Details Hide Details Kweli recorded a mixtape entitled Party Robot with R&B singer Res and musician Graph Nobel under the group alias Idle Warship.
    His given name, Talib (طالب), in Arabic means "student" or "seeker"; his middle name in Swahili means "true". Kweli married DJ Eque on May 9, 2009 in Bel Air, California.
    More Details Hide Details Kweli has a son, Amani Fela Greene, and a daughter, Diani Eshe Greene with author Darcel Turner. Kweli used to be a Five-Percenter, which had an influence on him earlier in his life and continues to do so. Kweli is known for his strong political views and activism, including on the topics of racial stereotypes and police brutality. Kweli has stated that he would focus on the prison–industrial complex if money was not a problem. He refuses to vote, and calls politics an illusion. He is an advocate on behalf of political prisoners and a supporter of community organizations like the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement. He has spoken often to inner-city high schoolers and college students. Kweli urged people to ask hip-hop artists questions in order to engage them politically, but warned not to get frustrated if artists do not "give you what you want" in their replies. He said that music artists bear an unfair burden to use their music as a platform because they have the ability to influence more people. Kweli mentions that artists, just like their audience, fall victim to their upbringing.
    In February 2009 it was announced that Kweli would be featured in the graphic novel-turned-animated series Blokhedz on Missiong.com, voicing the lead part of the character Blak.
    More Details Hide Details Additionally, Kweli is a spokesperson and mentor for P'Tones Records a non-profit after school music program that's mission is "to create constructive opportunities for urban youth through no-cost music programs."
  • 2008
    Kweli was a featured artist on the 9th Wonder and Buckshot album The Formula, released on April 29, 2008 (on the track "Hold It Down").
    More Details Hide Details Kweli's Blacksmith Records split with Warner Bros. Records in December 2008. Kweli confirmed to AllHipHop.com that Warner Bros. would still distribute Reflection Eternal and Kweli projects, but not other acts on the Blacksmith label.
    In March 2008, Kweli was featured on MTV's TV show MADE as the coach of Colin Colt, a young man who wanted to be made into a rap star.
    More Details Hide Details Also in March, Kweli released his Hostile Gospel video which appeared as the "New Joint of the Day" on BET's 106 & Park.
  • 2007
    Also in 2007, Kweli released a mixtape containing rare and collaborative songs, entitled Focus.
    More Details Hide Details October saw Kweli play one of China's earliest music festivals, the Yue Festival, organised by Split Works, alongside Faithless and Ozomatli.
    Kweli embarked on a national Australian tour in October, 2007.
    More Details Hide Details Eardrum, which featured a mix of mainstream and underground producers like Kanye West, Just Blaze, will.i.am, Nick Speed and Pete Rock, received generally favorable reviews and went on to sell 129,000 copies after four weeks.
    Also in 2007, Kweli released his third solo album, Eardrum, on August 21.
    More Details Hide Details It debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard 200. The first single was "Listen!!!
    In 2007 Kweli signed acclaimed rapper Jean Grae and the group Strong Arm Steady to Blacksmith Records.
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  • 2006
    On December 31, 2006, Kweli released nine songs he recorded with acclaimed underground producer Madlib for free download in conjunction with the web site for Stones Throw Records, the label to which Madlib is signed.
    More Details Hide Details The album was entitled Liberation, of which Kweli states in an interview with XXL Magazine that releasing the album was liberating to him. In 2007, the album was made available for purchase.
    In October 2006, Kweli performed on MTV's Wild 'N Out, hosted by Nick Cannon.
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    In February 2006, Kweli provided the voice of the protagonist in the graffiti-themed video game Marc Eckō's Getting Up: Contents Under Pressure.
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    In 2006, Kweli signed a distribution deal with Warner Bros.
    More Details Hide Details Records for Blacksmith Records. Warner Brothers launched an online community via Second Life for Kweli. In January, Kweli was featured in a commercial for the NCAA's Big Ten Conference, rapping about the league's basketball teams.
  • 2005
    In 2005, Kweli released a Mixtape-CD off of his newly formed Blacksmith Records.
    More Details Hide Details The project was called Right About Now: The Official Sucka Free Mix CD, a title which is considered likely a response to the criticism of The Beautiful Struggle. The musical offering was generally considered to be a mixtape. Some people regard Right About Now" as an official album because of its availability through commercial sites and its release of two singles. Right About Now also lacks the DJ overlays often accompanied by mixtapes which makes the CD read more like an official album. The album sold 16,000 copies in its first week of release, debuting at No. 113 on the Billboard 200. Sparking some controversy, on Right About Now Kweli sampled Ben Kweller's "In Other Words" for his own song "Ms. Hill". In part seven of Kweller's video podcast series "One Minute Pop Song," Kweller said he found Kweli's use of the song "a little fucked up" due to the fact that it was sampled without permission. In a similar incident, Kweli reacted with outrage on Twitter when a verse from "Fly Away" was sampled in Peter Andre's track of the same name. Kweli stated, "I protect the integrity of my music like a grizzly protects cubs. Woe to those who actively stand in the way of that." Kweli has not publicly addressed his unauthorized use of Kweller's "In Other Words."
    In 2005, Kweli had appeared in an episode also featuring Justin Timberlake, and Jimmy Fallon.
    More Details Hide Details The four of them had taken a trip to Tanzania to visit one of the world's largest and most thriving ecosystems left on the planet, the Serengeti Plain. There, they had gone into the depths of the Serengeti Plain with a few local zoologists at the time.
  • 2004
    In November 2004, he released his second solo album and final Rawkus release, The Beautiful Struggle, which debuted at No. 14 in the Billboard Hot 100.
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    In October 2004, Kweli contributed to Zap Mama's Ancestry in Progress along with Common and Questlove to create to track "Yelling Away".
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    In the summer of 2004, Kweli also performed at Dave Chappelle's Block Party (both as a solo act and as one half of Black Star) and he was later featured in the film and soundtrack.
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    In the summer of 2004, Kweli Kweli, along with Bob Moore's Amazing Mongrels, supported the Beastie Boys on their "Challah at Your Boy World Tour."
    More Details Hide Details That same summer, appeared on a Dilated Peoples song called "Live on Stage". A live remix was later featured on the video game NBA Street Vol. 2.
    His third and final appearance on the show aired one year later on April 7, 2004.
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    In February 2004, Kweli made an appearance on "Get 'Em High" off of Kanye West's widely successful debut album, The College Dropout.
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  • 2003
    Kweli responded to Jay-Z's 2003 song "Moment of Clarity" in which Jay-Z rapped: "If skills sold, truth be told/I'd probably be, lyrically, Talib Kweli," in his own track, "Ghetto Show" by stating "If lyrics sold then truth be told/I'd probably be just as rich and famous as Jay-Z." Despite this nod, the album featured much more commercial production, including efforts from The Neptunes, Kanye West and Just Blaze.
    More Details Hide Details Trippin is a 2005 MTV environmental documentary television series hosted by Cameron Diaz. On the show, said celebrities visit various ecological locales around the world, in particular underprivileged areas of the world.
    For his second appearance, Kweli partnered with Yasiin Bey, as Black Star, for the finale of the show's successful first season on April 9, 2003.
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    Kweli made a total of three performances on Chappelle's Show. He was the second musical guest on the show, which aired on January 29, 2003.
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  • 2002
    In 2002, Kweli released his first solo album, which was a move toward a more mainstream sound.
    More Details Hide Details Quality featured production from a variety of producers, including DJ Quik and Kanye West. Additionally, Dave Chappelle appeared on Quality. The album was met with widespread critical acclaim and received some mainstream attention thanks to the West-produced single "Get By" which peaked at No. 77 on the Billboard Hot 100. Quality peaked at No. 21 on the US Billboard 200 and at No. 6 on the R&B/Hip-Hop Albums Chart.
    In 2002, Kweli contributed to the critically acclaimed Red Hot + Riot, a compilation CD created by the Red Hot Organization in tribute to the music and work of Nigerian musician Fela Kuti.
    More Details Hide Details He collaborated with fellow hip-hop artists Dead Prez, Jorge Ben, and Bilal to remake the famous song by Kuti, "Shuffering and Shmiling", for the album.
  • 2001
    In 2001, Kweli and Mos Def, contributed to the Red Hot + Indigo compilation album created by the Red Hot Organization.
    More Details Hide Details The compilation was a tribute to Duke Ellington, that raised money for various charities devoted to increasing AIDS awareness and fighting the disease. Black Star collaborated with fellow artists John Patton and Ron Carter to record "Money Jungle."
  • 1999
    On February 4, 1999, Amadou Diallo was shot 41 times by four police officers while reaching into his pocket for his wallet.
    More Details Hide Details Diallo was unarmed. The project aimed to assemble 41 emcees to represent the 41 shots fired. Rappers featured on the EP include Owen Brown, Evil Dee, Kool G. Rap, Rah Digga, Sporty Thievz, Shabaam Sahdeeq, Common, Pharoahe Monch, Posdonus, Donte and Main Flow of Mood, Nine, Tiye Phoenix, Breezly Brewn' of the Juggaknots, Punchline, Imani Uzuri, El-P and Mr. Len of Company Flow, Jah-Born of Medina Green, John Forté, Mr. Khaliyl, Fre, J-Live, Rubix, Invincible, Wordsworth, A.L., Kofi Taha, Tame One, Jane Doe, Grafh, Shyheim, Channel Live, Wise Intelligent, Cappadonna, Crunch Lo, Rock, Nonchalant, Ras Kass, Dead Prez and Parrish Smith. Producers included DJ Khalil Mr. Khaliyl, Organized Noize, and 88-Keys.
  • 1998
    Shortly afterwards, upon returning to New York, he reconnected with Mos Def and formed Black Star. Kweli brought along Hi-Tek to produce their only album, 1998's Mos Def and Talib Kweli Are Black Star.
    More Details Hide Details The album, released amidst a late '90s renaissance of conscious, Afrocentric hip hop, was immediately hailed by critics and achieved modest mainstream success. Kweli and Hi-Tek continued their Reflection Eternal partnership on the 2000 album Train of Thought, which was likewise met with critical acclaim, but modest sales. The album was recorded at Electric Lady Studios. Hip Hop for Respect was organized by Mos Def and Kweli to speak out against police brutality, specifically, the case of Amadou Diallo. The project released one EP for Rawkus Entertainment.
  • 1996
    Kweli made his rapping debut in 1996, with featured five appearances on Doom, an album by Cincinnati, Ohio group Mood (Main Flow, Donte, Jahson).
    More Details Hide Details In Cincinnati, Kweli also met DJ Hi-Tek and the two collaborated on a few well received underground recordings as Reflection Eternal, including "Fortified Live" (1997), and "B-Boy Document 99/Chaos" (1999, featuring The High & Mighty).
  • 1975
    Born on October 3, 1975.
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