Talib Kweli Addresses Black History in 7-Track Album ‘The Seven’

More times than not, Youtube is my first choice to discover artists, and on my most recent trip deep down into the recommended videos I came across an actual Rap God, Talib Kweli. His song, ‘Nine Point Five’ off his EP The Seven drew me in like a drug after hearing the authentic hip-hop sound of DJ scratches across the track. Most artists today don’t use a scratching deck or even try to recreate a similar sound while making beats, and I find that incredibly unfortunate because some artists have successfully recreated the boom bap lyrical style; instrumentally, the audience is rarely given a throwback feel to older hip-hop (like 1980’s old).

Story | Sara Loretta

Image | Javotti Media

Alongside Styles P, Kweli blended influences from 1930’s trumpets playing on the streets of Harlem to Lupe Fiasco’s ‘Superstar’ to create a powerful EP, titled The Seven, which was released a little over a month ago. The record contains 7 tracks, each metaphorically representing different times for the black community.

The EP opens up with ‘Poets & Gangstas’ containing an uncredited female voice which immediately reminded me of Logic’s album commentary for ‘Never Enough.’ As the woman discusses the power of the number seven (it’s influences on artistry and intelligence), African-style drums begin in the background, signifying ancestry for most blacks in America.

The second track ‘Brown Guys’ encompasses the feels of the blues/funk eras. As an entire instrumental track, Talib and Styles P once again show their artistry and tell a story of loss and love without saying a word.

As I mentioned earlier, I feel as if this album is figuratively representing certain times in black history, and in Nine Point Five, this track represents the heightened gun violence of the new millennium and the protests in response. Jadakiss raps on the track, “Cause we just get all out of character and throw some chairs / Eventually they burn us out and tell us ‘go somewhere’ / But the love is too genuine and wholesome here / That’s why the light ain’t too bright but the road look clear”

‘In The Field’ takes us back to Pre-Emancipation Proclamation to a time when blacks either worked cotton or served as a “house negro.” Malcom X’s speech is heard in the opening of the track: “if the master got sick the house negro will say ‘what’s the matter boss, we sick?’ We sick!?!’ The overall idea of the track is that during slavery, a black man/woman who served in a plantation house would live to believe everything their owner would say — that their thoughts were not their own. Similar to today, the five percent are telling the rest of the country how to live (i.e. cutting budgets for medicaid, raising taxes).

Today’s society of constant interaction with the rest of the world is diminishing our ability to think for ourselves and create organic original thoughts. In ‘Teleprompters’ I would like to think that the few shoutouts each artists has, the one they give credit positively too is Joey BadA$$, as Talib raps: “Mr. Robot, voice of the apocalypse / The rapper with the golden esophagus,” for his ability to produce truthful lyrics for his audience.

“Open your eyes… starting recognizing your privileges” or as Charlamagne once said, recognize your BLACK privilege. In ‘Let It Burn’ each emcee discusses the benefits of staying close to yourself and not forgetting any dream or goal you might have, and to make the right decisions to get you to your end goal. I think throughout history, because of the racism and demoralization minorities have been faced with, sometimes it is easier to just survive every day, instead of living a life that has been prayed about.

The final track ‘Last Ones’ is about the hip-hop game and the unsuccessful rappers who ran out of content and/or let the world around them defeat their craft. Ideally, Talib is saying he will be the last one left in the rap game because of his positivity and open mind to the world: “Oh, that my words were written / Oh, that they were inscribed in a book / Oh, that with an iron pen and lead they were engraved in the rock forever / Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just / Whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable / If there is any excellence, if there is anything worth of praise / Think about these things”.

The Seven is a mind-opening record that incorporates time-transforming instrumentals to discuss decades worth of content to create a compelling experience for the entire audience.

Talib Kweli is on tour now, find tickets here.

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