yeah, i wasn’t dissing the other guys, they sound plenty tight enough and i’m sure they’ll reveal themselves with repeat listens
Been giving this quite a few listens and jotting down some thoughts. Enjoying it a lot. Slept at the time because I wasn’t really a fan of Kweli.
Did you guys ever listen to this? A few early Kweli and Hi-Tek appearances.
On my first playthrough and it’s really nice to hear Vinia Mojica, she features on some of my favourite rap songs (Verses from the Abstract, Rollerskating Jam, Therapy) but her solo career inexplicably never seemed to go anywhere.
Havent listened to that mood record in quote some time but remember it being pretty subdued. I remember a couple really good tracks on it and Talib sounded a lot more like a ‘normal’ rapper. Karma, Anotha Day, Millenium are the ones I have saved in a playlist.
Been listening to album loads the last few days. It’s really good. Great pick.
2000 was a weird year for me, hip hop wise. You could definitely see the scene splitting apart.
There seemed to be a lot of quite conscious/positive ‘real hip hop’ stuff coming out (this, Common, Jurassic 5, pre Fergie Black Eyed Peas, Dilated Peoples) that spawned club nights like Scratch. Did any of you guys ever used to go to that? Such a fun night, but for me it lacked the grit and grime that I like - both the crowd and the music itself.
The more mainstream stuff was boring to me (Ruff Ryders, Nelly, Eminem, Ja Rule). People like Prodigy, Ghostface and Screwball were good for a fix of what I was really into, but I was definitely getting bored and started scouring the internet for something a bit weirder and ended up going full backpack. A Supreme one, with both straps on. Necro, Non-Phixion, Jedi Mind Tricks, Aesop Rock, Atoms Fam, Anticon…
So whilst I quite liked Kweli, I didn’t really get into this album too much, aside from Scratch classics like ‘Blast’ and ‘Down for the Count’. Just wasn’t grimy enough. So it’s great to revisit and there are so many amazing tracks on here, and it really doesn’t feel like theres 20 of them. ‘This Means You’, ‘Some Kind of Wonderful’, ‘Too Late’, Kool G Rap is one of my favourites - didn’t know he was on this. Sounds a bit autopilot, but even bad G Rap is good. Love that there’s one producer - nice cohesive sound, but Hi Tek switches it up enough to keep it interesting - sounds a bit Dilla on some tracks, a bit Premier on others. Those interludes are bad though.
I still wish Kweli had stayed a bit weirder though - I loved the stuff that was on the first Soundbombing. Same goes for Mos Def.
“So we in your ass like you was Richard Gere, and we was gerbils”
this is still good. always found kweli’'s stuff hit and miss, even ‘quality’ is pretty average apart from a few obvious standouts. this one is the only one that’s good throughout (terrible interludes aside). he has a tendency to be kinda hectoring with his self righteousness sometimes but mostly keeps that in check here. soul rebels and eternalists are my favourites, but there’s loads of good stuff here.
listened to black thought immediately afterwards, stand by what I said earlier but did enjoy it more than I remembered. train of thought is still miles better though
haha, like a lot of you, I have not always got on with kweli’s voice. often heavily pronounces the end of words, kind of like he’s reaching for gravitas but mostly I don’t think his voice isn’t deep enough for that. he sounds like jean grae I think, you’ve got a real thing for Brooklyn rappers born in the mid 70’s, hey att?
obviously kweli is technically gifted. some good stuff on this album. ‘Africa dream’ is ambitious and really works. absolutely love the ‘too late’ beat.
Here’s the picks so far:
Witchdoctor – A S.W.A.T. Healin’ Ritual
(1998 — Atlanta, Georgia) theShipment
Jean Grae – This Week
(2004 – Brooklyn, New York) AphexTwinkletoes
Count Bass D – Dwight Spitz
(2002 – Nashville, Tennessee) CHAIRMAN_LMAO
Lushlife – Cassette City
(2009 – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) Antpocalypsenow
RBL Posse – Ruthless By Law
(1994 – San Francisco, California) Dan_S
Erick Sermon – Insomnia: The Erick Sermon Compilation Album
(1996 – Brentwood, New York) navajo
Odd Squad – Fadanuf Fa Erybody
(1994 – Houston, Texas) littlebirds
The Goats – Tricks Of The Shade
(1992 – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) furryfan
Casual – Fear Itself
(1994 – Oakland, California) Jamos
Gift of Gab — 4th Dimensional Rocketships Going Up
(2004 – Sacramento, California) dollarsandcents
Twista & The Speedknot Mobstaz — Mobstability
(1998 – Chicago, Illinois) theShipment
Reflection Eternal (Talib Kweli & Hi-Tek) – Train Of Thought
(2000 – Brooklyn, New York) AphexTwinkletoes
duh- don’t think his voice is deep enough for that, rather.
There’s a musicality to that style of cadence and delivery that absolutely works for me compared to, say, the mid-to-late 90s ATL style that just bounces off me. Like that smacked 'em in the face with a metaphor line is gliding above the beat rather than playing directly with it. Whereas, per @Antpocalypsenow , that ATL sound is just off the beat and it sounds (to me) a bit, I dunno, wrong?
Then someone like Eminem will absolutely sync with the beat and there’s something delightful to me about that style as well.
That Mandela one
That Lennox Lewis one
it’s dave chappelle, which makes how unfunny it is even more astounding
So there was a period as a teenager when Kweli was my favourite current artist, and Reflection Eternal my favourite album of his. I felt like I was always justifying the artistic and intellectual worth of rap music to friends and family… and here was this concious rapper, philosophising, using big words, tackling big issues. He was proof for me to use that hip hop was smart. And for me, like others teenage backpack rap nerds, when Jay-Z shouted out Kweli on the Black Album that felt like confirmation that this guy was the tightest rapper on the planet.
I’ve long since fallen out of love with him, tbh. Feel like he’s gonna say what he’s gonna say, whether it makes for good music or not. His lyrics often don’t flow well. He’s regularly guilty of dropping the corniest punchlines in the game. When he avoids those pitfalls, he’s a talented, ambitious and clever rapper, but too often the music he makes just isn’t that good…
Having said that, Reflection Eternal still holds up really well, considerably better than any of his other records (though Quality, Eardrum and Liberation all have their moments). It helps that Hi-Tek handles him a bunch of the best beats of his career, which avoid teasing out the cornball side of Kweli too much. They completely knock that first 8 song stretch up to Africa Dream out the park. Varied, energetic and… fun. Which is something Kweli often misses. Still some big highlights in the second half (“Soul Rebels” is vintage De La Soul and I’d completely forgotten about it, “Good Mourning” is a lush closer, “Eternalists” bumps.) Got to say, I was expecting to be more critical, but it holds out as the man’s classic and even has me tempted to reach back into his catalogue a bit
funny you mention Eminem, i’d been thinking of him as another with a high-pitched voice. used in an unhinged, rather than (for want of a better word) preachy way used to work well.
Great post, this.
Reckon if he’d packed it in after Quality he’d have an incredible legacy, amplified by that Jay-Z line and the early Kanye West production links. As things stand, it’s been mainly misses ever since (as noted, I did really enjoy Gutter Rainbows).
I think he’s struggled with the whole ‘conscious rap’ thing thematically. I guess that’s partly a reflection on society where all the same issues he was railing against in 2000 are just the same now
Banged this on again this morning and I’m always amazed at how it flies by despite clocking in at over an hour. You’re right that the opening song salvo is some incredible momentum, but testament to Hi-Tek in how he keeps switching it up in the back half. The ground he covers while keeping a sense of cohesiveness is astonishing.
Weird that Kanye kind of broke him, and rendered him irrelevant at the same time. That Jay Z shout out to Common and Kweli in 2003 was timely - pop rappers and “underground” rappers weren’t really working together yet, but fans were listening to both. When Kanye made College Dropout it blew those walls down. I always find it funny that the girl on Get em High supposedly wants to blow Ye cos he knows Kweli
Kanye hit that sweet spot to be “conscious” (somewhat debatable I know) and ignorant at the same time. And now we demand a socially conscious rapper who doesn’t feel like he’s preaching, which Kendrick has pretty much nailed. In that evolution into modern hip hop though, Kweli definitely deserves a mention. And as you say, maybe if he hadn’t struggled to adapt or had gone AWOL his current rep would be much better
Yes! Gets me every time.
Mic Geronimo - The Natural
1 The Natural – Mark Sparks
2 Lifecheck – Da Beatminerz
3 Wherever You Are - Mark Sparks
4 Masta I.C. - Buckwild (Roc Raida on the cut)
5 Man Of My Own – Chyskillz
6 Time To Build – DJ Irv
7 Shit’s Real – DJ Irv
8 Three Stories High – Buckwild
9 Sharane – Mark Sparks
10 Men V. Many feat O.C., Royal Flush – Da Beatminerz
11 Train Of Thought – Buckwild
12 Things Change – Mark Sparks
13 Masta I.C. (Remix) feat Lost Boyz – DJ Irv
Royal Flush also appears on tracks 1, 4, 5, 8, 12, 13.
Nice album from 1995 that I feel was a little slept on. Mic Geronimo was from Queens and was a bit of a poor mans Prodigy, but he managed to link up with Murder Inc’s Irv Gotti (DJ Irv on here) who hooked him up with some great producers and guests. The Irv produced tracks are actually very good, and one of the albums ‘collectors items’ is an uncredited appearance by a young DMX, a pre Reasonable Doubt Jay Z, and Ja Rule’s first ever appearance on ‘Time to Build’.
The album has a nice dark sound to it throughout. All flows together nicely and is a perfect headphones album for winter. Highlights for me are ‘Three Stories High’ with the really sparse ‘Come Clean’ esque beat, ‘Lifecheck’ (a real head nodder), ‘Men V. Many’ and DMX rapping about getting his sister hooked on crack.
He did a follow up to this which got a bit more hype (beats from Pete Rock and Puff Daddy) but then he faded into obscurity pretty much. Crazy given the trajectory of Jay Z, DMX and Ja Rule’s careers.