Talib Kweli | Gutter Rainbows (101 Distribution)

Kweli’s rhymes are enjoyable, but his repetitive delivery makes the album so blah.

I’m no loyal Talib Kweli fan, waiting at the record store for his next release to hit the shelves, but I can appreciate what he brings to the hip-hop game. His fourth album, Gutter Rainbows, leaves me speechless and I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing.
He has some good songs on this album and uses his lyrical skills to expose urban life, government corruption and the institution of religion. The first few tracks “After the Rain,” “Gutter Rainbows,” “So Low” and “Palookas” set a mellow mood.
Kweli’s rhymes are enjoyable, but his repetitive delivery makes the album so blah. It loses so much of its spunk. “Mr. International” can be thought of as an ode to his fans as well as a way for him to show that he’s not boxed into being a hip-hop artist all about the hood; that he appreciates all kinds of people, cultures, places and icons. 
“Wait for You,” featuring Kendra Ross reminds me very much of the tone of Kweli’s last album, Eardrum. I instantly began to bob my head to beat as the hook reminds us all to take advantage of every moment we are given.  “You better get it while the getting is good/ do what you do/ No hesitation ain’t no time for playing games.”
Considering that in the past Kweli has collaborated with musical greats like Mos Def, Bilal, Norah Jones, Lyfe Jennings and Justin Timberlake, this album shockingly doesn’t feature any well-known collaborators. Not that well-known artists automatically make a great record, but it would’ve definitely added a wow factor to this rather drab album.
As the piano welcomes us into the brilliant rhymes on “Cold Rain,” you can’t help but feel good about this tune. However, if you listen to the lyrics you will notice he’s speaking about some serious societal issues such as the ongoing discrimination against Muslims and the vain deaths of soldiers. On “Family and Friends,” he remembers his upbringing and reflects on what helped him to get to where he is now. He also reminds us that it takes a village to raise a child, and that we must force our youth to educate themselves.
Overall, if you’re a diehard Talib Kweli fan you will enjoy this album. It’s not Eardrum fantastic but it is reminiscent of early hip-hop, and I can respect his efforts to reach back to the genre’s origins. D | Ashley White

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