Talib Kweli is an enigma to some in the industry but he’s a rappers rapper who’s always been held with incredible respect by some of the biggest names in Hip-Hop.
Both Jay-Z and Kanye have talked about Kweli as an inspiration and while he’s flattered by their esteem, Kweli remains as single minded and outspoken about the industry and what drove him to go back to being an independent artist. When considering where he see’s his purpose moving forward he asks;
How do you monetize cultural relevancy?
“Having a lot of Twitter followers is great for the ego. A blog once called me the king of “Black Twitter” for my ability to use my Twitter feed to create social discourse. So that’s nice. However, having all these “followers” is deceptive because while it makes me culturally relevant, it doesn’t translate into actual record sales.” So looks like Kweli has found a way round this and it seems the same strategy thats worked for Chance the Rapper is also working for Talib Kweli.
— Talib Kweli Greene (@TalibKweli) August 15, 2015
When Talib appeared recently on Bill Maher’s talk show and was asked why he released his music for free, he candidly replied “People don’t buy music, they’d rather stream and pay music to streaming companies, it’s convenient and as horrible as it is, its my responsibility to do something about it, its not on the consumer to do something about the new business model”
So how does Kweli remain as confident without a major label, maybe it helps that there are Hip-Hop legends in their own right like Jay-Z who will drop a rhyme about Kweli as Jay did in “Moment of Clarity”, and anyone who wasn’t paying attention to Kweli needed to start;
If skills sold, truth be told, I’d probably be lyrically Talib Kweli
In his book, Decoded, Jay-Z talked about Talib with admiration while pointing out the realities of making music “Kweli is a great MC — as is Common — and they’ve both carved out impressive careers without big records. They’re great technical MCs, but there is a difference between being a great technician and a great songwriter. I deeply respect their craft, but even the most dazzling lyrical display won’t translate to a wide audience unless it’s matched with a big song.”
Talib Kweli has done the major label deal and even tried to make that hit record when he recorded ‘Come Here’ featuring Miguel, but the realities have been harsher for him. Touring with Macklemore and seeing the success that being independent brought them inspired Kweli to hook up with Ryan Leslie and get his own website up and running.
So Kweli has a plan – releasing the new album on his website, kweliclub.com, and making it available to download for free – is a plan that could just payoff in the long run. In exchange for an email, Kweli not only gives people his own album for free but he’s also selling books, art, music and even ‘helps people with their homework’!