Artist: Talib KweliTitle: Right About NowRating: 3 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Angus Crawford
Since and even before the debut of Black Star, Talib Kweli and Mos Def have been considered Hip-Hop saviors. While The Mighty Mos has made rapping his part time job, Kweli has been trying to rescue Hip-Hop and achieve fans’ unrealistic expectations for two solo albums. After last year’s relatively disappointing The Beautiful Struggle, Kweli has momentarily returned to the independent scene with his Koch backed Right About Now: The Official Sucka Free Mix CD (Blacksmith/Koch). On this official mixtape Kweli delivers what fans expected after Black Star and Reflection Eternals Train of Thought.
Crisp rhymes, dope beats, and solid sequencing differentiate Right About Now from the typical mixtape. Opening with the title track Kweli briefly recounts his rap career throwing some jabs at the music industry along the way, including calling MCA the “Music Cemetery of America”. Kweli is at his best mixing vicious one-liners with revolutionary rhymes over the Dave West produced “Flash Gordon” and “The Beast,” featuring Papoose. On the sorrowful “Ms. Hill,” Kweli shows his appreciation for Lauryn Hill with lines like “The Industry started beating her up/ Then the demons started eating her up/ She needs a savior that will bleed in a cup.”
The mixtape features many heavy hitters from the “underground”, but Jean Grae stands out with her scene-stealing verses on the soulful “Where Ya Gonna Run”. While the disc features some somber songs like “Ms. Hill” and “Two and Two”, the MF Doom assisted “Fly That Knot” and the Black Star reunion on “Supreme Supreme” will have most fans singing along with the addictive hooks and nodding their heads to beats made for a super hero’s theme.
After years of problems with major labels, maybe Kweli only needed to return to his indie roots in order to tap into his full potential, because right about now he has never sounded better.