Nov 13, 2015

Review: #Indie500 - @TalibKweli & @9thwonder written by: @Maryyy_UK

Are you tired of mainstream rap music with absolutely no meaning? Are you tired of the unjust violence happening everyday in America? Well so is Talib Kweli, and he doesn’t hide it. 

While  Kweli is known for going against the grain and creating music that makes his listeners think, he out does himself on Indie 500. With the Help of 9th Wonder and many other featured artists and producers from Jamla Records, Javotti Media, and elsewhere, he creates an album that is dripping with raw emotion and talent.

Which Side Are You On (feat. Tef Poe & Kendra Ross; prod. Nottz)-  This is a cry to action to action to everyone. The gospel vocals by Kendra Ross play the background and chorus.  All of the listeners and rappers who are not supporting the victims of police injustice. At the end of the track Kweli lists the names of all in the black community who have died last year

In Every Ghetto (feat. Rapsody; prod. Hi-Tek) - The fast-paced Pentecostal church clap rhythm of the music matches the content of the lyrics. Rapsody talks about children “double dutching and ducking shots” at the same time.

 Pay Ya Dues (featuring Problem & Bad Lucc; prod. Eric G) – This is one of the shortest tracks on the album. The soulful background vocals on repeat and simple percussion on the beat help the artists featured shine even more.

Lo-Fi (feat. NIKO IS; prod. Khrysis) - While the song name means "a sound recording that contains technical flaws," I believe this is more of a comment on how the sound is perceived by mainstream media.  The slow bluesy/R&B beat with a sexy guitar and the subtle sound of running water in the background is an interesting mix. It juxtaposes with the aggressive bars given by NIKO IS and Kweli. 

Prego (feat. Pharoahe Monch & Slug from Atmosphere) - Yes, they’re talking about the sauce. The title is just as comical as the song. This is one of the more relaxed songs one the album. It’s a fun track with a funk mix; the type of song you put on at a 90’s house party.

Life Ahead of Me (Feat. Rapsody) - This is my second favorite track. Rapsody talks about how she struggles with being a female rapper because there are few female artists for her to identify with saying “pray we don’t lose any more icons.”

Great Day in the Mourning (feat. Add-2) -  While this song is a tribute to all the in the rap game who have died, the upbeat rhythm identifies with the celebration of the lives that they lived. At the same time he calls out artists who have not used they fame for the good of the community.

Don’t Be Afraid (feat Rapsody, Problem, Bad Lucc) – This composition has the most aggressive beat but there’s also an eerie vibe to it. Rapsody starts off rippin’ it acapella. If you learn anything from this song it's that “Fear stands for Fuck Everything And Run.”

These Waters (Feat K’ Valentine, Chris Rob, NIKO IS, Jessica Care; prod. Nottz) - This is my personal favorite. K’ Valentine opens and unleashed her frustration about the lack of power poverty stricken people have. However she leaves us hopeful in saying that this pressure formed a diamond. The soft piano and clashing cymbals and percussion create a contrast, and Chris Rob’s smooth vocals are the icing on the cake. Jessica Care rips the end of the track with her spoken word monologue.

King Shit (feat NIKO IS & GQ; prod. E. Jones) – NIKO IS comes in strong in the beginning. He calls himself a king of rap while challenging the rappers who surround him to be a better “royal court.” GQ proves his worthiness in the next verse.

Bangers (feat. MK Asante & Halo; prod. Nottz) – It starts with a recording of a speech by MK Asante about how music used to be the force behind the revolution.  Kweli says that we are still in  a war with “tanks in the hood” referring to the Baltimore Riots. Halo follows in the next verse with words on the lack of leadership we have in music now, telling these (barely) musicians to “get of Twitter” because they are an embarrassment to rap. Ouch. But in all honesty, it needed to be said.

Technicolor Easels (Feat. NIKO IS; prod. Khrysis) – “A real revolutionary fights for the people” is the first line of the song. Kweli doesn’t make an appearance on this track. NIKO continues his verse comparing himself to other respected world leaders.

Understand (Feat. Brother Ali & Planet Asia; prod. Khrysis) – Kweli wraps up his message while a gospel driven rhythm, similar to the end of a sermon.  Brother Ali partly sings his verse, and Planet Asia follows with straight bars. He ends with this question: “You understand what I’m saying?” which I believe acts as a question and a command.

People listening to this album may think, “Wow he’s angry” and they’d be right. But I can understand why. The tone of the music is representative of the times were living in, especially as a Black man or woman in America. Yeah they’re pretty aggressive, and they have a right to be. What type of music would you produce if your people are continually being harassed, murdered and disenfranchised with no one standing up for them, not even some of your own people? It would probably sound a bit like this. It may not be for everyone, and there’s not a lot of club beats here. However there is a message: We may be beaten, but we will never be silenced.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

This is usually the part where we'd leave an album stream for you but this time we'd prefer if took the time out and purchased it on iTunes here. It's that good. I promise.


Multimedia Journalist, Founder and Chief Editor of WTM Host of A-Side B-Side Podcast and more. I like to talk about stuff and write it down. Sometimes to a microphone. Either way, I need you to feel this.

No comments: