Album Review: Talib Kweli – Gutter Rainbows
Back when Talib Kweli was an up-n-coming emcee cutting his teeth on the uber competitive NYC underground scene, his high level of talent was evident from the start. Years later after releasing 4 solo albums and several side projects, Talib has morphed into more than just an underground artist with cross over appeal. Now, he calls himself Co-CEO of Blacksmith Entertainment, heading up a roster of his own. But don’t get it twisted, he still can spit with the best of them when he wants to. His latest disc Gutter Rainbows shows that moving into the boardroom has done little to dull his appetite for eating beats and wack emcees all in one sitting.
The R&B tinged How You Love Me is as strong of a track that Talib has ever created. Produced by Blaqtoven, Talib paints a picture about living in a relationship that hurts as much as it feels good. Spitting lines like, “When are we gonna grow up/ Why do I love you so much/ We so touched/ Excited by the drama when it shows up,” you feel like you’re staring at Kweli and his girl from the building across the street as they go through their issues. Blaqtoven does his best 50 Cent impersonation on the hook, “Everyday since we first me/ I can’t eat a bit/ I can’t seem to think straight/ When I think about how you love me,” while the beat keeps heads nodding.
The lead single I’m On One, produced by Khrysis, is just dope. The Hall Of Justus affiliate provides a dope soundtrack for Kweli to do what he does best, spit. Talib goes hard at new school emcees letting them know that there’s more to be an emcee than viral videos and racking up views. “Ain’t no patience for the wack emcee/ This ain’t Worldstar/ This ain’t Vlad TV/ Stop posing for the cameras/ I’m showing all you amateurs/ Life is a bitch this is how you handle her/ You let the chips drop/ Let them fall where they may/ This an everyday struggle like Notorious say.”
The Sean Price assisted Palookas, produced by Marco Polo, is a throwback to the underground Talib. Kweli goes toe to toe with Price for an old school Brooklyn beat beatdown. Talib comes hard like he’s back on the open mic scene. “If you mix the King and Malcom/ Bet Talib will be the outcome/ Album so hot my ghetto chicks bring the talcum/ Whether you sing or shout it/ They gave someone else the crown but King without it.”
Talib brings his artist Jean Grae to the mix for Uh-Oh, produced by Oh No, this will no doubt be in the iPod of every backpacker. Spitting through violent organs and strings, Jean Grae shines hard on the track; “Psychopath/ Ride a tricycle in a bikers club/ Mike Tyson face tatted addict like you like it rough/ Hey scatter brain don’t get your grey matter punched up/ Till you hunched up talking like you punch drunk.” Not to be outshined on his own album, Talib comes back hard with, “Crips throwing gang sings/ The beast in the streets show their teeth like a canine/ Low like the baseline/ Jean and Kwel think alike like great minds/ The crown is on my head what makes you think that they can take mine/ They know they’ll never win yet they race us like a hate crime.”
Gutter Rainbows is a good album for Talib. It’s not too underground that it will be over the heads for the average listener, but he didn’t play himself and try to reach for a commercial crowd that’s never really been his friend. Mixing with producers like Ski Beatz, Kryhsis and Marco Polo, Talib gives you a well rounded album full of good beats and rhymes that will appeal to music fans across the board. Everything you’d expect from a CEO of a record label.
Standout Tracks: “Palookas” ft. Sean Price, “Uh-Oh” ft. Jean Grae, “How You Love Me” ft. Blaqtoven, “I’m On One”, “Cold Rain”
1. After The Rain
2. Gutter Rainbows
3. So Low
4. Palookas ft. Sean Price
5. Mr. International ft. Nigel Hall
6. I’m On One
7. Wait For You ft. Kendra Ross
8. Ain’t Waiting ft. Outasight
9. Cold Rain
10. Friends & Family
11. Tater Tot
12. How You Love Me ft. Blaqtoven
13. Uh Oh ft. Jean Grae
14. Self Savior ft. Chace Infinite