talib kweli    I  ilustrazioa/illustration by: txo!? In Arabic, Talib means “student” or “seeker”. Kweli, in Swahili, is “true”. This hip-hop singer certainly didn’t get his name from the type of moronic slogans on some car number plates in the States. Talib Kweli is certainly strange fauna in the hip-hop jungle.
Talib Kweli (1975) didn’t have a traumatic childhood. His mother didn’t sell her body to be able to feed it with crack, and his father never spent time behind bars. He was born and raised in Brooklyn. His mother is a professor of English at a university and his father an admin worker at another one. His youngest brother is along with being a professor of law at Columbia University, a clerk at the supreme court. Talib also went to university but he dropped out and became a member of an experimental theatre group. The black sheep of the family. “Student” Talib goes against the grain of so many typical hip-hop stars’ clichéd biographical traits. Some “Gangstas” believe that this difference shows he lacks “character” and the somewhat plastic “authenticity”. In our opinion, the fact that he didn’t make up some “from the wrong side of the tracks” biography like almost every single other hip-hop singer actually singles Talib Kweli out as being somebody special.
When he first became involved in the world of music, he was influenced by groups pertaining to the collective Native Tongues, themselves focused on African roots. These groups
included Jungle Brothers and De La Soul. His first appearance was on a record by Cincinnati band Mood in 1995. But he really committed himself to the world of hip-hop in 1997 when he started the band Black Star with Mos Def. DJ Hi Tek produced the band’s only record Mos Def and Talib Kweli Are Black Star, and, though it didn’t sell many copies, it quickly became a big hit with the critics. The band broke up and each member embarked on a solo career. Kweli’s first real solo release was 2002’s Quality. It was more commercial than the work he had done before. Kanye West produced some songs on the record and comedian Dave Chapelle wrote a couple of songs for him too. It was a success and he was soon a member of the hip hop mainstream circuit. Ever since then he has released and guested on many records, projects and musical get-togethers (The beautiful struggle, The official sucka free mix, Revolutions per minute, Gutter rainbows...).
In regards to attitudes, he is fairly much in line with Mos Def, The Roots and other committed artists while on musical terms he is closer to the more commercial Jay Z or Kanye West, especially when it comes to production and melody. That’s why Talib Kweli is so unusual and special. This “seeker of truth” has proved that in this world of the bling-blinging of diamonds, expensive clothes and singers pouring pricey champagne over the half-naked bodies of young girls, there is a place for artists with a committed stance and political message.