Top positive review
Twin Spirits In Music Come Together.
on July 6, 2004
For those who aren't very familiar with Talib Kweli, let me tell you... he is without a shadow of a doubt, a savior of hip-hop. He brings new meaning to the art-form, ressurecting the meaning, morals, and ultimately skill that originally backed the hip-hop movement. Talib Kweli has been my favorite emcee for... well, since I really became interested in hip-hop, which has been a while. His solo album, "Quality" shows that Talib can truly do anything he wants to and his debut "Black Star" is probably the most thoughtful hip-hop album ever recorded. Those two CD's I just mentioned, I must confess, are my favorites, though don't get me wrong, "Reflection Eternal" doesn't trail too far behind.
As always, Talib's lyrical talent blows me away. His thought provoking and emotional force behind his generally laid back flow comes together to create an awe-inspiring record. Backed with Hi Tek's similarly laid back beats, again re-inforced with a solid beat that you wouldn't expect to accompany such a dreamy melody. I guess what makes this album really great, is that Hi Tek and Talib are really as close as you can get to alter-ego's (musically). Both boast a laid back flow that is the heart and core of their musical style, but catching you off guard, they'll both pull out amazingly strong and powerful lyrics or beats that create a very unique musical current.
Talib is one of those emcees that can pull off rhymes that would sound terrible from any other rapper, but from him, they simply sound natural, flowing smoothly with the beat and making perfect transitions from chorus to verse, etc. Talib just has so much to SAY in his rhymes, that he gets his full worth out of every bar, every line, every verse, and after just listening to one song, you're left dazed, captured by a thoughtful reverie that FORCES you to contemplate your own existence and the troubles of others. Some even leave you guilty. Talib's conscience lyrics strike your core and make you examine yourself. "Is that me?" you'll ask, after a particularly thoughtful tyrade on the evils of today. This CD is very focused on music, not just lyrics though, and there are multiple "songs" or "interludes" (whatever you'd like to call them) that showcase Hi Tek's clever production, generally accompanied with a jazzy melody or balad.
"Reflection Eternal" isn't perfect, however, and there are a few songs on this CD that I know some people appreciate, but I just can't get into. One such song would have to be "Soul Rebels", a song with a very shaky chorus that goes "/We do not/ live for hip hop/ Hip hop/ It lives for us" Repeat. Accompanied by a strangely 'Santana' guitar-ish sounding beat, this song fails to live up to it's big brother and sister songs, so to speak. The ones that are so good, you can't stop hitting the 'repeat' button when it's done.
This is one of those albums where the best songs are easy to pick out, NOT because the rest of the songs don't live up, but because within the first 30 seconds, you find yourself with eyes closed, letting the music flow through your heart, your soul, your muscles, your mind; every fiber in your body, your head slowly nodding along with the dreamy beat as you absorb every word that comes out of Talib's lips. The thing is, there are quite a few of these songs, but I'll list them all for you, just so you get an idea of how good this record really is.
The best songs on the album go as follows... "The Blast" feat. Vinia Mojica, "Too Late" feat. Res, "Memories Live", "Love Language" feat. Les Nubians, "Eternalists", "Touch You" feat. Piakhan and Aupa Dav West, and last but not least, "Good Mourning". These are all songs that boast very thoughtful lyrics and strong production. They are not, however, the only good tracks on the CD. I left one out, since it doesn't really fall into the 'thoughtful' category. It's track 9, titled "Down for the Count" feat. Rah Digga and Xzibit. This song is a masterful showcase of the best battle-rap you'll ever find. Every single Talib Kweli makes, he balances his 'conscience rapper' flow with one or more strong battle-rap tracks. As usual this one blows you out of the water, and it's not just mindless hip-hop either, it's aggressive rap with a message behind it. Any person can be pushed to far. All too true, and well said, since this song brings with it some of the most incredible word-play you'll ever hear. I mean, come on, Xzibit AND Kweli, you KNOW that's a lethal pair.
So, all in all, I'd give this album 4 1/2 stars, JUST because there are a few unlistenable tracks on the CD that jar you out of that heavy reverie Talib and Hi Tek's flow puts you in. Here's a quick summary for you...
*A CD with both incredibly thoughtful messages behind it, and potent lyrical talent. Talib just has so much to say... and he says it all.
*To balance the record out, Talib also brings the best of his battle-rap to the table, showing that his lyrical imagination extends beyond his 'conscience rapper' image.
*A slow and dreamy flow on both Talib and Hi Tek's part, yet at the same time, both seem to be able to pull of an amazingly potent performance, pulling tricks out of their sleeves you never saw coming.
*A few unlistenable tracks that jar you out of the flow of the CD, if you decide to play it all the way through.
Obviously, the pro's far outway the con's, so I have to give this CD the 5 star rating it deserves. Although this may not be Talib's greatest performance, when compared to "Black Star", "Quality", and his mixtape "The Beautiful Mixtape", it only pales by a fraction, barely noticeable. "Reflection Eternal" is a timeless album, bringing with it everything and more that you'd expect from an emcee the caliber of Talib, and a producer with the reputation of Hi Tek. Every dollar you pay for this CD is worth it, so my recommendation? Buy it.