[Interview] Talib Kweli: You Must Have Forgot
RubyHornet: I was reading Rolling Stone today, and they had an interview with Dave Matthews and he said that his really hardcore fans make it tougher for him to make new fans, but at the same time they show so much support. As an artist with some diehard fans as well, do you relate? Is that part of Prisoner of Conscious?
Talib Kweli: Wow, I completely relate. I have older fans that are so nostalgic for my past music that they are dismissive of anything new. I personally feel I have grown as an artist by leaps and bounds and that I make better music. how could I not? But people attach music to memories. And that makes them support me whether I have a hit or not.
RubyHornet: About a year ago, Mos Def changed his name to Yasiin Bey. He said that he didn’t want any separation between how he saw himself and how the fans see him. I understand that to also be about an artist defining himself and his art, not letting others do it. How much is that on your mind, if at all?
Talib Kweli: It’s been on my mind since I decided to MC by my own name.
RubyHornet: Okayplayer wrote about your new song, “To The Music” with Maino and 9th Wonder. They described it, “The soulful feel of the 9th Wonder track takes me right back to that moment when Rawkus records was making moves and a small cadre of rap commandos were attempting to storm mainstream radio stations with their underground sound.” I want to ask you a question about Rawkus, which I also asked El-P of Company Flow when I interviewed him in May. We were talking about the early Company Flow and Rawkus days and the impact/influence that time period has had on a lot of my peers, and myself as well. It seems like it can be romanticized to us, or maybe we look back at it with rose colored glasses on everything. With you being on the inside of that, what sticks out to you about that time? Do you think back on that time and what it meant for Hip Hop as it stands now?
Talib Kweli: El-P has a different take I’m sure, but Rawkus was a great thing for me. Company Flow helped create the Rawkus that I joined, so they would have a different perspective. Black Star followed Co Flow’s lead, and while Rawkus made many mistakes, I am grateful for the opportunity they gave me and what they invested in my music. Rawkus won by filling a void, we won with vinyl and by respecting the rudiments of the culture.
RubyHornet: Lastly, what are you looking forward to the most about the release of your new mixtape and new album?
Talib Kweli: I’m looking forward to hearing people say how they forgot how dope I am, because they’ve been focusing on lesser MCs for so long.