Talib Kweli - Radio SIlence
A lot of the Old School style Hip Hop coming out right now is having a hard time breaking through. There are so many other avenues for Hip Hop to be delivered to the masses now that the Brooklyn classic style has taken some hits. It's not the genre's fault, but as Hip HOp spread and became something that everyone could access that singular Brooklyn voice became less and less relevant. Talib has put out a couple records that were just ok at best, but on Radio Silence He finally opens up a bit and allows modern Hip Hop culture to come in. The first indication of this is on "Traveling Light" featuring Anderson .paak (about damn time we heard his name right?) and production from Kaytranda. Kay brings a beat that is so deeply rooted in the past but has this warble that skyrockets it into the future. It allows Talib's lines to be more cutting and more relevant, not to mention that smile that always creeps through whenever Anderson is on a track. The most surprising track is "Chips" which features Waka Flocka, someone we haven't heard much from in awhile. The song has these trap drums, coupled with big horns creating a totally turnt up environment that is so far out of the box for Talib but it works so well. There is the occasional what I will call "skit lite" which it seems like Talib will never let go of, but these slide in as interludes and intros rather than their own stand alone tracks and thankfully they don't try to be funny. The production is incredibly varied from track to track giving Talib the space to bring his personality, a whole hell of a lot of it, to the songs.
"Radio Silence" is one of the more interesting tracks with its almost wholly electronic production. It's also refreshing to hear a rapper of Talib Kweli's status and history not constantly trying to reflect on and bring up the past. That is where his last albums really suffered, an inability to move on. All sense of that vanishes on this record and it sites as something completely modern but not afraid to admit the past exists. At some point Talib's music became more about conveying thoughts and ideas than making a catchy song. The art and thoughtfulness need to be there, but if the song isn't good who the hell is going to listen to it? On Radio Silence he finds that balance and stay right on top of it the whole time. It's always foolish to declare someone "back" when they've been making albums for years but this album really feels like a re-invention a new Talib for 2017, wiser with the lessons learned over the years. Radio Silence is a really great record and one that people will be talking about in hip hop for some time.
8.3 out of 10