[Interview] Talib Kweli: You Must Have Forgot
RubyHornet: I don’t know if this is just me being excited to hear the all new music, but it seems like there is a really good vibe coming from you and energy around Attack The Block and Prisoner Of Conscious. You’re on social networks a lot and also travel quite a bit. What kind of energy are you picking up right now? What’s the mood like heading into the new releases?
Talib Kweli: Well, I constantly create new music but I think I am navigating the internet better now and becoming smarter with when and how I release. I haven’t had much industry support from TV, radio, DJs etc for awhile, even though in my opinion every release is strong. So I had to figure out a way to release music and get the eyes on it. The timing, the visuals, choice in collaborations are part of a master plan.
RubyHornet: If I’m not mistaken, this is your 6th solo studio album, and if we count the releases with Madlib, Reflection Eternal, Idle Warship and Blackstar, it’s your 11th. Did you envision coming up on an 11th release? How might some of the pressures, or preparations for this album now in you career compare to some of the pressures and preparations for your first LP or other early work?
Talib Kweli: I never imagined 11 albums, so I am truly blessed. I realize that this is a young man’s game, so I am also blessed that I continue to remain relevant. Truthfully, I’d like this album to do well so I can focus on other projects outside of Hip Hop. But even if it doesn’t sell well, the songs are so good that I will be able to tour off of it for quite some time.
RubyHornet: I read that you’ve been focusing a lot more lately on making music that will make people happy, as well as the live performance aspect. Is that reflective in Prisoner of Conscious? I heard one song that 6th Sense produced that was short, and more free form about the different aspects of love. Are we getting more of that on the LP, along with what we’ve heard like “Distractions”?
Talib Kweli: My focus is on making music that makes ME happy first. On Prison Of Conscious I went all out with the musicality, and tried to be less beholden to a “Hip Hop” standard. And now that I tour with a live band, it does affect the musical choices on the album. The album asks the question, how do we go from a song like “Distractions” to a song like “Kilo’s of Love” (the 6th Sense joint)?
RubyHornet: You also have a mixtape with DJ Z-Trip that dropped, Attack The Block. What do you see as the relationship between these two works? Do you follow at all what’s happening right now with artists such as Mac Miller, Curren$y, Wiz Khalifa and others being sued over samples used in promo mixtapes?
Talib Kweli: Working with Z-Trip was an absolute pleasure, I learned a lot from the homie. There were songs like “Letter From The Government” and “To The Music” that were on the mixtape and not the album for sample clearance reasons, and I am glad they were still able to come out. In regards to suing over mixtapes, with all due respect to any artist who feels they were taken advantage of, suing over a free mixtape is a bad look in my opinion. This is Hip Hop, we borrow from our past, that’s what we do. And if it ain’t being sold, you really have no wins, no matter how many youtube hits it gets. Either way, ain’t nobody pulling that with me, I’m down by law.