All Articles Tagged "Talib Kweli"

Lauryn Hill And The Question Of What Responsibilities Do Artists Have To Their Audiences?

October 2nd, 2014 - By Charing Ball
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Writer Stefan Schumacher is so over Lauryn Hill, he had to write an essay about it.

More specifically, in the essay aptly entitled, “It’s Finally Time To Stop Caring About Lauryn Hill,” Schumacher talks about being a lifelong fan of the former Fugees member and falling out of love with her, particularly over her inability to appreciate the fans, especially those who pay to see her in concert.

He writes in part:

I wanted to see Ms. Hill, but something just didn’t sit right with me about paying that much for an artist who hasn’t produced anything of relevance in almost two decades. Not to mention her reputation for being an inconsistent and unreliable performer—canceling shows, coming on stage hours late, passing out.

It occurred to me that, as great as Miseducation and The Fugees’ The Score are, they’re part of a distant past. Lauryn Hill was a great artist. She’s not anymore and it’s time we stop holding her in that regard, waiting for her to pay off on a promise that’s long since expired.

In addition to her poor showmanship at shows, Schumacher isn’t much of a fan of her recent releases either. In fact, he hated her new song, “Black Rage,” which was a formerly unreleased song Hill shared with fans to speak on the happenings in Ferguson, Missouri. He said of the track, “Her singing is thin and uneven and the recording is of poor quality.” You can listen to it here, but personally I don’t think it’s that bad. In fact, it’s probably the best Lauryn Hill we have heard since her debut album. And I mean that sincerely.

Nevertheless, Hill’s inability to duplicate or even maintain any semblance of mainstream success has left Schumacher with questions. Lots of them. An article filled with them in fact:

“What is she doing with her time? How many kids does she have? Is she broke? Will she return to her former glory? What was with that strange acoustic set she did for MTV back in… whenever that was, 2002?”

“Who does one album that sells six million copies in the U.S. alone and another that sells eight million, and then just stops?”

“Remember when Lauryn was winning all those Grammys that year in that white pant suit (1999)?”

“Do we long for DMX’s return to glory? Are we desperate for reunions of Outkast and Black Star, neither of which have made albums in years?”

“Making obligatory appearances for your charitable organization is equivalent to slavery?”

“Did you forget about me?”

Honestly, his inquiry into why Hill has become such a musical disappointment to him (and other tangents) are boundless and apparently unanswerable.

Despite that, he vows:

So I’m leaving Ms. Hill alone. Not because I’m hoping she’ll be back, but because she’s no longer worth waiting on. She has two classic albums under her belt, but she’s more of a memorable flash in the pan than a legend. She used to be great. I used to love her. But not anymore.

Poor Schumacher. And not because he has lost his musical muse, but because, as they say, he done stepped in it now. So much so that rapper Talib Kweli decided to spit some wax poetry of his own in an equally long and flowery piece entitled In Defense of Ms. Hill, in which he argues that Hill is an artist, and as an artist, her first obligation is to deliver an honest expression of her art – despite the desires of her fans.

More specifically he writes:

The great thing about making art for yourself is that if you do it well, millions of people will relate to it and embrace it. They will support you and make it possible for you to have a career and feed your family, all with your art. These are your fans, and their passion, dedication and contribution to your life are to be cherished and respected.

However fans are not your boss, and listening to them when it comes to creative decisions is a slippery slope. I am not obligated to make the same album over and over again just because fans demand it. I am allowed to try new things, succeed at them or fail at them. I am allowed to not make music anymore ever, if that’s what I choose to do. I am allowed to give a sh**ty show or not even show up if I feel like it. Hopefully that will never happen, but if it does, it will never take away from the quality of the work I’ve already put out into the world.

Interesting debate here. And as always, I implore you to read both essays – in addition to this one – to get a clearer understanding of the debate. I will say that I am personally least interested in both of their arguments when it comes to the validity of calling Hill a legend. Like many “great” lists beforehand, this conversation is subjective and not very interesting. And while Kweli might personally still see value in Hill as an artist, Schumacher is well within his right as the receiver of an art to make the determination based on personal appeal.

However, I believe that both sides do raise some interesting and valid points about the responsibility an artist has to his or her fans. As Kweli rightly noted, an artist’s first responsibility is to their art. Period. As a daily columnist, I fully understand the necessity of having the space to explore topics and opinions, which sometimes are contrary to long ingrained public beliefs and thoughts of both society as well as my personal identities as a black woman. I also see the necessity in exploring topics and expressing opinions in places folks feel I am not entitled to. Sometimes the reactions I get bother me, but regardless of how ridiculous they are at times, I still can’t allow the negative responses to sway the way the ball of my pen swerves.

Besides, who wants to read an inauthentic writer?

I am a firm believer that within those spaces of great debate and uncertainty is where innovation happens. And I am quite comfortable with the fact that even if folks don’t agree with me, I like to think that I at least made folks think and challenged a few perceptions of things in the process. That’s what I strive for anyway. And that is what I truly believe makes one a good writer and artist in general. So if Schumacher doesn’t like her new stuff, well, that’s too bad for him, but not necessarily for her or for music in general. I mean, we all know the music scene has changed significantly since Hill first arrived on the scene, so who is to say how another Miseducation of Lauryn Hill album would be received right now? And wouldn’t that be much worse than her putting out new, albeit, different music? Since Schumacher likes ruminating so much, let him answer those questions.

With that said, if I don’t turn in these little trinkets of innovation in some semblance of “on-time,” I’m not going to get published and paid for my work. And rightfully so. I mean, I would love it if folks would just hand me money because they thought I was great and all, but I also understand that those who pay me for my craft want me to actually deliver something. And that is where I believe Schumacher has a major point.

If it is truly about the art for some artists, then they should host free shows and performances where they are free to come at whatever time and junction they want. However, thanks to capitalism, not too many artists can afford to live like that. That’s why we sell our work. And while the act of selling ourselves and our talent does not entitle people to shape who you are, it does carry with it some responsibilities – one of them being to be considerate enough of the people who are making it possible for you to eat and pay off some bills. I’m just saying….

A Little Vindication For Don Lemon? Ferguson Officer Who Pushed Him Taken Off Duty

August 24th, 2014 - By Tonya Garcia
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don lemon page1A Ferguson police officer who was in charge of crowd control earlier this week has been relieved of duty after an hour-long video of him ranting against the President, affirmative action, women, the LGBTQ community and more was uncovered.

Officer Don Page made his remarks to the Oath Keepers, a group that says it’s a “non-partisan association of current and formerly serving military, police and first responders” dedicated to defending the Constitution. In his comments, Page warns women against calling the police against their husbands in domestic violence cases. Instead they should “just shoot each other and get it over with.”

Earlier this week, Page was caught on camera pushing CNN anchor Don Lemon as he tried to report the goings-on from the protests in Ferguson. Lemon called out the “gray-haired officer” for physically pushing people who were peacefully exercising their rights. After asking a number of officers why people were being moved, Lemon was given a cryptic answer about traffic concerns and the need to move to an empty parking lot. During his coverage, Lemon notes that there were no traffic concerns until the police got involved and seemingly caused one.

This was just one confrontation that Lemon was involved with this week. At this point, you’ve seen the on-camera skirmish that happened between him and rapper Talib Kweli. Knowing Don Lemon’s history of questionable comments, the first reaction, even before watching the clip is likely to be, “Oh, here he goes again.” But, in our opinion, it looks like here, Lemon wasn’t all wrong.

To be sure, Don Lemon is condescending. That attitude makes a conversation with him exceedingly difficult. Judging by the response on Twitter, that’s why most people sided with Kweli.

Add to that, Kweli makes a point about the media that has even been made by members of the media themselves; media coverage isn’t as fair or as deep as it should be at times. Ryan Schuessler, a freelance reporter who was in Ferguson for Al Jazeera took to his personal blog to explain why he wouldn’t be returning to continue his work. He says he heard journalists yelling at residents to get out of the way, saw reporters being disrespectful to Ferguson businesses and on the spot where Mike Brown was killed, and got the sense that many reporters were there for self-promotional purposes.

Here, the confrontation between the two starts with Kweli singling out CNN for its coverage, which is fine, but then he takes too long to illustrate his point. He says later in the argument that he knows during TV interviews that he has 90 seconds. But it feels like he took license to go on and on because, as he says, he didn’t trust that he would get a chance to speak his mind. If that’s your approach, it stands to reason that you’ll get cut off.

That devolves into complaints from Kweli about the way Lemon greeted him and who technically invited him to be on the broadcast. Who cares? It’s off topic and petty.

They ended by going back to the most important matter at hand — the shooting death of Mike Brown, so that’s a positive. The conversation continued on Twitter, where Lemon says he actually pressed for Kweli’s appearance on the show though he didn’t know who he was (condescending again!). Kweli answers by saying he doesn’t care if Lemon knows who he is, then lumping him into the group of “mainstream negroes” who “blame victims of brutality for their brutalization.”

Don Lemon needs to get his ego in check, but a live interview from Ferguson at that moment wasn’t the time for anyone to do it. Kweli’s subsequent tweets show how angry he was — rightfully so, given what we’re talking about — but also how personally dissed he felt. Now’s when everyone, not just Don Lemon, needs to put their pride aside to address the matter at hand.

That’s How You Let The Beat Build: Popular Songs You Probably Didn’t Realize Kanye West Produced

July 29th, 2013 - By Clarke Gail Baines
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At the beginning of the new Millennium, not many people knew who the hell Kanye West was. Though he had been concocting cold beats for folks since the mid ’90s, his hopes and dreams of becoming a major producer in hip-hop and even having the chance to rap didn’t happen overnight. But fast forward to 2013, and he’s one of the biggest artists in the world. Sure, he’s a complete arse at times, but everybody has a Kanye song, or a Kanye-produced song that their iPod can’t live without (just think of the joy you felt when you discovered Bey’s “Party” for the first time…he’s a genius!), and many of the samples he’s used over the years helped bring major musicians and songs from the past back into the forefront. While you know most of his contributions to music, here are a few bangers that you might not have realized he was behind (unless you are a major hip-hop head or stan).

Wells Fargo, The Kinsey Collection Launch A Video Series Focused On Black History

July 22nd, 2013 - By Kimberly Gedeon
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A screenshot from Lance Gross' Wells Fargo Untold Stories clip.

A screenshot from Lance Gross’ Wells Fargo Untold Stories clip.

A new storytelling series detailing the African-American experience from the 1600s to the present has launched on YouTube. With the collaborative efforts of Wells Fargo and The Kinsey Collection — an exhibit that features artifacts chronicling Black life — a documentary-style campaign named “Untold Stories: Our Inspired History” was born, reports The Wall Street Journal.

Hollywood stars such as Jordin Sparks, Lance Gross, Lauren London, and Talib Kweli will serve as hosts of this new Black storytelling experience. “The series is designed to educate viewers about the historical impact of African American history on modern life using the perspective of each celebrity curator,” adds WSJ.

In one video, Lauren London explains how Carrie Kinsey unknowingly began the The Kinsey Collection. In 1903, she wrote a letter to President Theodore Roosevelt asking for his help to find her missing brother. She describes how one man approached her saying that he would take care of her brother and pay her $5 a month. “But I heard of him no more,” Carrie wrote in the letter.

“Carrie Kinsey had no idea this letter was one of the things that inspired Bernard and Shirley Kinsey, her direct descendants, to start their exhibit, the Kinsey Collection,” London added in the video.

The Kinsey Collection is filled with souvenirs of the African-American past that has been on display in eight museums including the Smithsonian National Museum of American History. “The Kinsey Collections strives to give our ancestors a voice […] enabling the viewer to understand the challenges, triumphs, and extraordinary sacrifice of African-Americans…” said Bernard Kinsey in a statement.

In another video vignette, Jordin Sparks highlights the accomplishments of Phyllis Wheatley, the first female Black poet to be published. Lance Gross “describes the trials faced by Josiah Walls, an African American statesmen in the 41st and 42nd Congress,” adds WSJ. Lastly, Talib Kweli delves into a 113-year-old letter granting Henry Butler, a Black Man, the ability to buy his family freedom.

The storytelling campaign was created to not only honor our African-American ancestors, but to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation.

The video collection can be viewed on YouTube where fans are welcome to join in on the conversation and share the stories by using the #KinseyUntold hashtag on Twitter.

We’ve got Lance Gross’ clip below and Lauren London’s after the jump.

Responsible Rappers With (Mostly) Clean Lyrics That We Love

June 20th, 2013 - By Meghan Williams
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In a world full of Lil Waynes, Chief Keefs and Nicki Minajs, it’s not often we hear rap music that isn’t laced with expletives and sexually charged, violent lyrics. So those rappers who make it a point to produce clean music are like a breath of fresh air. Which artists fall in this category? Click on to find out.




Will Smith

Back when Will Smith was The Fresh Prince, he secured his place in music history by releasing songs with PG lyrics and wholesome themes. Though other artists have adopted a similar strategy, Will Smith has always been considered one of the cleanest overall.

‘He’s A Misguided 40-Year-Old:’ Talib Kweli Challenges Rick Ross To Apologize For Rape Lyrics

April 3rd, 2013 - By madamenoire
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Credit: WENN

Credit: WENN

From Black Voices

“I don’t care if Rick Ross is 40 years old — he’s a misguided 40-year-old person.”

Strong words from Talib Kweli Monday as he addressed the recent controversy over Rick Ross’ rap verse on the song U.O.E.N.O., in a HuffPost Live segment hosted by Marc Lamont Hill.

While Ross seems to have chalked the controversy surrounding his lyrics up to some unspecified “misunderstanding,” many are not buying his explanation.

“Rick Ross condoned rape in that song … and he should apologize, and his apology that he offered was unacceptable.” Kweli continued.


Conscious or Conflicted? Are They The Truth Or Just Troubled?

January 28th, 2012 - By Drenna Armstrong
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For people like myself who really love music debates, the “conscious rapper” topic is one that tends to get people all riled up.  More often than not, someone’s favorite rapper will get talked about in a negative light and come under fire for their actions not always living up to their words.  I’ve learned to not have any real beliefs in the idea of the “conscious” rapper because when you do, you’re also going to get that human side that you only thought belongs to the “gangsta” rapper.  I don’t believe many of the complaints about the “high and mighty conscious rappers” are warranted. I don’t think it’s right to expect them to ALWAYS talk about the plight of black people or to be positive every second of the day.  Then again, in life you’re often forced to take sides. Anyway, enough rambling – just take a look at a few of the conscious rappers and feel free to let me know what you think (I’m also on Twitter…DrennaB).

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We’re Loving The Talib Kweli, Res Collabo

October 12th, 2011 - By MN Editor
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"res and talib kweli"

We’re loving Idle Warship’s new album “Habits of the Heart,” which dropped today on Spotify – if you haven’t heard already, Spotify is the best music application to come out in 2011. You can listen to whole albums, organize a library of music, compose playlists and download music for free in under a second. Dare we say, it’s even faster than iTunes.

But back to Idle Warship – a collaboration between Talib Kweli and the fierce, Philly-bred rocker, songstress Res! This collabo is a dream come true for fans of the alternative artists and trust us, you will not be disappointed. You can check out the album on Spotify here.

Brothas Who Get It Right!

May 17th, 2011 - By SisterToldja
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We often speak about those brothers who diss women in their music, or who fail to have Black women cast as the leading ladies in their videos, so we think it’s only right to take a moment to acknowledge those who have done right by sisters musically. We love these men for their talent AND the love they show to beautiful Black women in these clips! Check out some of our favorite videos and let us know which ones we may have missed in the comments section!

Songs to Inspire and Uplift Black Women

April 29th, 2011 - By Victoria Uwumarogie
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Cartoon by Tom Burgos

With all the songs folks request on the radio, watch as videos and dance to in the club, you’d think they would be uplifting to black women. Well, you guessed wrong. If we’re not getting called hos and being told to drop it and shake it and bounce it every five minutes in a song, other black women are calling each other hos, or doing the dropping, and shaking and bouncing in little to no clothing in YouTube videos seen by millions. But not everybody goes out of their way to degrade black women in music. Some people have proclaimed their love for chocolate (of all shades) sistahs out there and have done so in an eloquent manner. You already know we love “Brown Skin Lady” from Black Star, now check out some of the other tracks that put shower us with praise. Feel the love ladies!