Blacksmith: The Movement (Mixtape)

Artist: Talib Kweli Presents...Title: Blacksmith: The Movement (Mixtape)Rating: 4 StarsReviewed by: Serge Fleury

Talib Kweli is one of those rare MC's; the kind that feeds you food

for thought, and doesn't leave a nasty after taste in your mouth.

Whether he's talking about children being forced to work in Africa's

diamond mines or corrupt politicians in Washington, he's always managed to keep

people listening.

When Blackstar parted ways, many questioned if Talib could hold his

own in the solo arena without Mos Def. After the releases of

Reflection Eternal (Train of Thought) with Hi-Tek and Quality for self, which featured the

breakthrough smash "Get By", those questions were quickly answered.

Now in 2006, the MC/activist returns with Blacksmith: The Movement. A

compilation album/mixtape that features, Jean Grae and Strong Arm Steady, all the artists newly signed to his Blacksmith imprint.

Talib shines through as the star of the album with lines like, "N****s brag about their rims being 20's or better/I'm like the new

Rakim, this is the era of the 20th letter," on his remake of the Camp Lo

classic "Luchini (A.K.A. This Is It)".

The supporting cast anchored by the notoriously underrated Jean Grae

also hold their own. When she lays down phrases like "Possibly I

could/drop in some knowledge/I should/but I ain't finish college/and

I'm not a Kanye/got it good," on the 9th Wonder produced "Pardon Me" she goes beyond what is expected of a generic female MC. Phil the Agony and Xzibit add some west coast flavor on "I Can't

Believe" which helps give the album some regional balance. And MF Doom drops in on "Project Jazz", to trade stories with Talib about their

adolescent years.

Blacksmith: The Movement serves two purposes. It serves as an

introduction to Talib's extended Blacksmith family and it guarantees

to keep his followers anxiously waiting for his solo release. Missions accomplished.