Talib Kweli gave fans an early Christmas gift dropping Gravitas on December 15th. With his sixth studio release, Kweli proves he is still one of the most talented MC’s out. The album starts out strong with ‘Inner Monologue’ where he discuses the current state of the industry while dropping sharp battle rhymes. It features a sample from author Neil Gaiman discussing how typical distribution channels for all art forms are breaking down and being reinvented. This is quite fitting considering Gravitas was released exclusively through his newly launched #KweliClub website. The album features 11 tracks.
On ‘Demonology’ Kweli gets some assistance from Gary Clarke Jr. and Big K.R.I.T. The guitar work from the former and ominous vocal samples provide a perfect backdrop for Kweli to chronicles his battle with demons. ‘State of Grace’ examines the current state of hip-hop and gives you look into struggle the of female fan who feels she’s losing touch with her love of hip-hop. “The artist she trusted/Just broke her heart, so misogynistic and disgusting/She tried not to judge him/In her heart she still loved him/And the way that he lusting a part of his suffering”. These bars provide a brief a snapshot of her struggle.
‘Violations’ sees Talib Kweli trading bars with Raekwon. This is one of my favourite songs off the album and is sure to have any long time hip-hop fan feeling nostalgic. Talib Kweli’s intelligent rhymes and Rae’s grittiness compliment each other perfectly. On ‘Rare Portraits’ he paints a picture of his career and reminds listeners of his achievements: “I’m out and on tour with the greatest, A Tribe Called Quest/ And the De La’s, opened for Jay Z and Nas, who else could say this?”
“New Leaders (ft. UnderAcheivers) has an uplifting feel with Kweli claiming he has a enough followers, he’s looking for some new Leaders. It features the UnderAcheivers who’s verses pale in comparison to the skill Kweli. On ‘The Wormhole’ Kweli addresses the hip-hop communities fascination with the Illuminati. He drops knowledge on the subject while dismissing theories about rapper being members. ‘What’s Real’ is solid track which features a slowed up beat and assistance from RES on the hook.
“Art Imitates Life” is a huge standout. Anytime Blackthought and Kweli get together you know it’s going to be something special. This song does not disappoint. It also features Rah Digga (haven’t heard her since Break Fool!) and ALBe. The album closes on a tender note. ‘Lover’s Peak’ is more of an interlude then a song, but it’s nothing short of beautiful. It flows perfectly into the album’s closer, ‘Colors of You (ft. Mike Posner)’ a perfectly put together love song.
Saying a Talib Kweli album is great lyrically is like saying a Quentin Tarintino movie is violent. We’ve all come to expect it, but that doesn’t mean we appreciate it any less. If you’re a true hip-hop fan this album is a must listen. 4/5.