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HIP HOP / 30 RNB Issue 51 / 2013 IEW RV TE IN Talib Kweli Ahead of the release of his fifth solo album "Prisoner Of Conscious", which sees guest features from RZA, Kendrick Lamar, Busta Rhymes, Miguel and J Cole we spoke to one of hip hop's legends. With over 15 years of experience in the game, he has bought us music from Black Star, Reflection Eternal and iconic tunes such as "Get By" and "Listen". Oshi Okomilo | I feel blessed to be talking to one of my favourite artists, how you doing? I'm good. Where are you? I'm sitting at my kitchen table in Brooklyn. Brooklyn, New York. So, how long has Brooklyn been home? All my life. So 'Prisoner Of Conscious', this is your new project that's coming right now? Yeah it's the new album. What is the title about? It's about people's perception of me how people have a box they place me in. They try and box you in as a conscious rapper? Uh, well, yeah. I mean it's not a bad box to be in but it's still a box. Do you feel that's something you've been fighting your whole career? Well, nah it's definitely not a fight because I'm in control of it but I'm speaking on it because it has a lot to do with the way I'm marketed and promoted, so I chose to go ahead and call the album that this time. Do you think that there's some deeper issues as to why other music gets promoted more heavily? Yeah, I mean I think that the corporate nature of rap is easier promoted, club music, strip club music, music that's not given the samples and beats so you know I don't think it's like a conspiracy I dunno, I think puppeteering is interesting. theory but you know it is what it is, it puts the burden on me as an artist to still be able to be relevant. Sorry, puppeteering? Would you say that you are trying to make a statement with the music on your album? Have you done any so far? Yeah I mean people focus so much on me as a lyricist that they miss the musicality of what I do, so yeah I focus Now I know you've been to London many of times, you've shot videos Yeah Puppeteering. No I actually haven't, I need to learn. having a black man in power? book yet? I do, I think having the first black president has reminded people what America can be, America is a great county and we don't often live up to our potential, and Obama is living up to our potential. You know he's not the prefect president and I definitely don't support all his policies, but there's a lot about what he represents that I do support. Yeah I wrote a book, and it will be out maybe in a year or two. Ok, now just going back to rap "People focus so much on me as a lyricist that they miss the musicality of what I do, so yeah I focus on the music on this album." on the music on this album. So you've got some serious hits you know for me, 'Listen', 'Get By', 'Say Something', 'The Blast'. I remember them back then, is there a song that you feel has had the most impact on people from meeting them? Definitely 'Get By' is the song that has the most impact on people, but you know there are other songs that people like. So growing up I assume you always wanted to be a rap star right? I wanted to be a baseball player real quick, but yeah rapping was what I wanted to do. So what's left for you to accomplish? When the New Year comes around and you're thinking about what you're aiming for? over here, you've been to Peckham, what do you think about the culture over here in London? Yeah I love London, London is an expensive New York. Expensive New york? Yeah it looks just like New York but just way more expensive. for a second, one of the "Skills be sold, truth be told, and probably lyrically Talib Kweli", now Jay Z had to recognise what you do there in a moment of clarity, how did that make you feel? It made me feel like I was doing the right thing, in the right place at the right time, and that people I respect, respect me so you know it's a good feeling. So just going back to rap and a touch on politics here, I think that rap had a bit to play in Obama coming to power, which is a long time ago now. Him being a black president, it was a big moment for people all over the world. Have you met him? Ok, did you read him address those lines in his book Decoded? No I have not. It made me feel good you know. Do you think its helped the struggle Nice, and when are we going to get a book from you, have your written a Oh yeah I read that. Ok how did the comments make you feel? Now could you tell me one of your career highs Talib? That was one of them. Yeah, that would be a big one I'm sure. You were involved in Dave Chappelle's Block Party, do you still hang out with him? Yeah that's the homie. Are there any rappers in your tight close circle of friends? Yeah, I have plenty of rappers in my circle, I know all the rappers. You know everyone and the song 'Ms Hill', a sick song, have you heard any feedback from her about 'Ms Hill'? No, I haven't heard anything back from her. When are you next over in London? As soon as I get invited and someone buys me a plane ticket! so if you could have and superpower and do anything what would it be? I dunno I already have a superpower, I can rap. Oh, that's a good answer! I heard your album for the first time this morning - that shit was absolutely crazy. I look forward to paying attention to it as I do. It's been a pleasure catching up. Thank you His new album "Prisoner Of Conscious" is out now. For more information check

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