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It’s been 20 years since rapper Talib Kweli made his debut as an artist (1995), a feat most rappers never manage.
His breakthrough album was a collaboration with rapper Mos Def as Black Star (1998), and the next three releases, Train of Thought (as Reflection Eternal with Hi-Tek in 2000), Quality (2002) and The Beautiful Struggle (2004) were released through Rawkus.
Starting with 2007’s Liberation (with Madlib), Talib’s output increased during the decade with Eardrum (2007) Revolutions Per Minute (with Hi-Tek (2010) and Gutter Rainbows (2011).
Each of those records were released through his now defunct Blacksmith label.
Talib Kweli is living proof that great content supersedes the ever-evolving music business model. At the time Kweli started, selling physical units and gaining airplay were the name of the game.
Many aspects of the business have changed, but one thing that’s been constant for the rapper is his independence, which is why Kweli decided to launch a new label, Javotti Media.
Since its inception in 2011, Javotti has released music by artists like MK Asante, NIKO IS, Res and Cory Mo. The label pushes the possibilities by accepting Bitcoins and experimenting with E-commerce via ZapChain as well as his KweliClub.com.
The latest in Talib Kweli’s musical canon is the properly titled release Indie 500 with revered producer 9th Wonder. Talib pulled together a collective of revolutionary-minded rappers like Planet Asia, Pharoahe Monch, Problem and others, who do not disappoint on the release.
“Indie 500 allows Talib Kweli to fight the good fight atop 9th Wonder’s skilled production, but leaves just enough space for some much-welcomed guests of honor,” wrote Brandon Danial of The Daily Cardinal.
Of all the guest appearances, Danial was most impressed with critically acclaimed artist Rapsody, who gained national exposure in 2015 thanks to her appearance on Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly, which Rolling Stone named Album of the Year.
“Her contributions to Indie 500 continue her attention-worthy hot streak,” Danial said of the North Carolina rapper.
Talib was recently attacked in Copenhagen, Denmark during an incident before a show a recent show. There is no doubt he will tackle the subject lyrically since the racist hate he was on the receiving end of has “only made him stronger.”
Check out the full review in The Daily Cardinal.