on September 21, 2002
With the release of Reflection Eternal, Talib Kweli graduates from the status of Mos DefÆs partner in Black Star to the vocal half of new partnership with producer Hi Tek. The time spent sparring on the sidelines pays off here, though, for both MC and DJ, as the album is a polished and fully formed meeting of their minds.
Hi TekÆs loops are dreamy and fluid, but always grounded by beats that are solidly hip-hop, like a more variegated Pete Rock. Against this backdrop Kweli boasts, disses, and ruminates on the demise of hip-hop. This is strange, since the album certainly demonstrates rap is not dead. The disc is chock full of guest appearances which, though obligatory, are all strong showings. On "Soul Rebels," De La Soul show their new tough side over a choppy guitar line; and Mos Def guests over a funky wah guitar on "The Blast." The albumÆs hottest track is the accordion-fueled "Down For The Count," featuring Rah Digga and Xzibit over an infectious Pharoah Monche-style beat. Talib Kweli asks "where were you the day hip-hop died?"--but to listen to this album, Kweli and Hi Tek happily missed the funeral.
on July 19, 2001
Good album that could have been a classic. The flaws in this album are due to some guests mc apperances, which include X hip hop legends (except Busta Rhymes and Rah Digga), who have become mainstream and releasing rubbish lately. The De La Soul and Kool G Rap guest apperances and the horrible track with that "Big Del from the Natti" "mc" completly destroyed all the possibilities this album had of becoming a classic. Rawkus wants to go mainstream and evidence of that is found in the albums they released recently with a load of crappy guest apperances and the horrible Lyricist Lounge 2 complilation, all include wack mainstream mcs. Talib is an excellent lyricist that expreses himself in a very articulate, almost like Last Emperor, his solo songs are probably some of the best political hip hop songs after Rass Kass'. Talibs' flow and delivery is original and the production is above mediocre. If you can afford it buy Rass Kass' soul on ice as well.
Best Track "African Dream"
on March 14, 2001
After releasing a handful of essential 12"s on various Rawkus Records projects in the late '90s, Talib Kweli and DJ Hi-Tek were on the verge of becoming one of hip-hop's best-kept secrets. Yet their original incarnation as a duo expanded into a triumvirate with the inclusion of Mos Def and transformed their eventual manifestation into Black Star, thwarting their initial bid for acclaim. While Kweli's stardom may have been initially eclipsed by his more charismatic cohort, Mos Def, Reflection Eternal houses enough merit to establish Talib as one of this generation's most poetic MCs. Kweli is a rare MC, as his lyricism resounds with a knowledge that transcends his still tender age. He does not aspire to reprogram the masses with this album, just rehabilitate them, as he laments on "The Blast": "They ask me what I'm writing for/I'm writing to show you what we fighting for." In an effort to celebrate life, Kweli breaks down hip-hop's obsession with death on "Good Mourning" and "Too Late." But it is his varied lyrical content that is most inspiring, effortlessly transitioning from the poignant circle-of-life epic "For Women" to the rugged "Some Kind of Wonderful" and "Down for the Count," featuring Rah Digga and Xzibit. While the unassuming, largely minimalist grooves that Hi-Tek supplied on Black Star's debut longed for a dramatic flair, he displays a remarkable maturation on Reflection Eternal. In fact, Tek's loping keyboard wails, soulful staccato claps, and shimmering piano loops are often sublime in their arrangement and outcome. Though Kweli and Hi-Tek's debut harbors over-ambitious tendencies, clocking in at over 70 minutes in length, they are a duo that will undoubtedly stain their memory into hip-hop's collective memory with this noteworthy debut. Welcome to the new generation of Native Tongue speaking.
on November 21, 2000
A fair reflection? Will we be eternally grateful? Seeing as it's a
Rawkus long-player courtesy of two leading lights in rap's new skool
movement, there should be no doubting whether Talib Kweli and DJ
Hi-Tek can deliver the goods in their own inimitable fashion. Having
done service on countless other Rawkus operations, the solo option was
rather a long time in the pipeline. Is Train of Thought on the right
track to becoming another Rawkus classic?
It never amounts to the
grime and noise of a subway, more like your inter-city sleeper where
you can take in all the scenery without the threat of being caught in
a crush before the doors shut. Unlike all railway treks, this ride is
certainly a smooth one, with Kweli and Hi-Tek allowing themselves to
become passengers to lovingly rendered production that doesn't offer a
hint of a screech akin to the brakes of a runaway railroader. With
definite leanings towards the name-checked Common - bluesy and
blissful with only an occasional tinge of temper - R.E. aren't so much
heavyweight as extremely strong in a lighter division, being the
crafty fighter with toes twinkling rather than the power-moulded
This despite opening with Move Somethin', the shaker of a
single straight for the street with an ever-so-slightly commercial
chorus that keeps the Rawkus way easily identifiable. Maybe they're
trying to get the venom out of their system straight from the
beginning; The Blast doesn't do itself descriptive justice at a nice
and easy tempo with classy call and response promptings from Vinia
Mojica that gives you that indefinable glow upon listening. The Common
influence comes to the fore on Memories Live, the jazz cats clicking
their fingers in time to a real before-bedtime winner pensively chewed
over by a crooning diva rocking the cradle in time to the snoozing
masses. Rah Digga and Xzibit are surprisingly recruited to holler on
Down For The Count - considering the album's laid-back tendency, two
of hip hop's harshest may have ended in a nasty mess by the
rail-side. And although they make no attempt to alter their aural
velocity, Kweli's sandwiched sortie into the more civil provides the
perfect contrast on some serious flamenco guitar biznizz colliding
with a mafia-style head nodder. Suffice to say, the two guests hold
their corner spectacularly to add measured grit to Kweli's graft and
Apart from some rather over-laborious
self-indulgence on the skit/guest speaker front - is there really any
need for such 'hip hop' luminaries as Nelson Mandela, and more
laughably, boxer Lennox Lewis, to say their down with the R.E. sound?
- and some unnervingly suspect Dre-esque chuggers only rescued by the
unforeseen oomph of Kweli's normally silky tones on Some Kind Of
Wonderful and Kool G Rap's standard snarling on the otherwise
keys-dependant Ghetto Afterlife, Hi-Tek keeps it tight and intelligent
without feeling the need to go scratch or sample-happy. The two-step
stop-and-go of Love Language continues the easy-going spiral into
smokedown/crib-dwelling territory with Kweli maintaining his
distinctive form, with Eternalists following suit by balancing the
increase in tempo with lullaby-style keys to add to a tempting twosome
of well delivered level-headed lyrics and silky jazz promptings. You
get a sneaky insight into just what the results might have been if
Hi-Tek dropped the cool dude persona in favour of an altogether more
clinical one - but no sooner has Big Nel From Da Natti mopped up its
lo-slung breaks over Mos Def's Hip Hop chords, than Common reappears
as guardian angel to direct Touch You, an undeniably funky lo-fi
eye-shutter with a sweet acoustics section smartly backdropping the
promising sounding Piakhan, who makes his point smoothly and
near-seductively expressed. As if it's last orders at the bar, Good
Mourning wraps the evening up like one last dance before closing, in a
wind-down that if any warmer would make the chillers begin to sweat a
little. Certainly not the Reflection style though - this warmth is as
snug as a mitten on a hand that points the way to new levels of
So was it worth the wait? Of course it was. Reflection
Eternal have always been two to track down beforehand owing to their
regular Rawkus rotation - Kweli alone has built a solid rep having
twinned with Mos Def as Black Star, while Hi-Tek holds similar respect
amongst those in the know - and while it doesn't have the trademark
angle of zest and eagerness that most Rawkus releases are lined with,
the channelled energies on show highlight that the label has a
smarter, more diligent side to its name than more people would care to
credit. While the comparisons to Common and Blackalicious are
undoubted - let's face it, you can't review an album soaked in jazz
and blues without mentioning two of its premier purveyors - Reflection
Eternal have got their sound down to a lush workout of the senses
which everyone should appreciate. It's a Rawkus long-player, and once
again it's one to check - and you don't need to train your brain to
have second thoughts over this one.
on October 24, 2000
and less of the "battle" rhymes, this LP would have been the "beautiful" album that most hip hop heads have labeled it as. Unfortunately, throughout most of the album, what we get from Talib Kweli are the typical "sucker MC" rhymes that we have all heard him recite before. It would be more acceptable for someone who is average, but Talib kweli is one of the best lyricists out right now and I was expecting him to deliver something innovative with this album. He attempts on the songs, Good Mourning, For Women(why is this track hidden?), Memories Live, Too Late and Love Language, but this is really where the buck stops. Don't get me wrong, this is definitely one of the year's best. Though, monotonous at times, the production is pretty good overall. I hate to compare this to Mos Def's solo album, but I have to. It just seems as if Mos put more into his album. Though, I am a bit disappointed, I still recommend this album. It may not be as innovative as I anticipated, but it is far more impressive than most of the hip hop albums that have been released this year.
on September 23, 2001
Much props to DJ Hi-Tek and Talib Kweli for an impressive first effort. On "Train of Thought", Reflection Eternal backs up the undeniable hype that has been growing since 1996's gem, "Manifesto".The duo collaborate on a lengthy 20-cuts, the majority of which are pretty good. Standouts are "The Blast", "This Means You" (with Black Star alumni Mos Def), "Name of the Game" (a ripped freestyle), "Language of Love", and bonus track "For Woman". The complaints are few. At times, Kweli comes off a little too eager to diss on wack emcees. Also, Hi-Tek's signature hand-claps become a little monotonous as the LP winds down. These things aside, "Train of Thought" is much better then most hip-hop around and is a better-then-good investment. While partner Mos Def is still my favorite of the two, Kweli establishes himself as a force to be reckoned with.
on October 22, 2000
The revolution might not be televised, but you can hear it goin on. Picking up where Blackstar partner Mos Def left off on "Black on Both Sides," Talib Kweli elevates hip-hop above the cliches of the money, cash, hoes metality. DJ Hi Tek gives Kweli a diverse backround to paint his verbal mosaic on - the marriage of lyric and beat is the rare feat of perfection. The duo never outshine each other, never step on each others' toes. They just let it flow, and flow beautifully. Hi-quality top to bottom and with stand out tracks like "This means you" and "soul rebels," "Reflection Eternal" might just the latest classic, must-have hip-hop album. at least until "Stankonia" drops on Halloween
on October 23, 2000
How sad is it that Ja Rule (who steals his style from Tupac and his growl from DMX) has the number one album on the charts right now, when an LP like this gets no Billboard love? It's refreshing to hear an honest, insightful voice in rap speak intelligently, and Hi Tek has given Kweli excellent background music. While OutKast remain the best duo in hip hop history, Black Star was amazing, and their album, if you don't have it, is worth picking up immediately. Back to Talib; this is true hip hop, ya'll, and it's money well spent. One of the top albums of the year thus far, and I would list tracks, but they're all damn good. Enjoy
on July 12, 2004
i first saw talib kweli do his performance on chappelle's show and i thought he was very skilled. so around a year later, i heard "africa dream" in my music class and i was extremely into it. that is without a doubt my favorite track on this album. many other tracks on this album prove kweli to be a skilled mc and lyricist, very poetic and doesn't swear in every sentence (ludacris). him and mos def make an amazing team, when they're together they're unstoppable. if you're just getting into kweli, or mos def, check out black star, their group together. great album, great rapper.
on October 17, 2000
Talib Kweli, a member of Blackstar has teamed up with Dj Hi-tek to produce a brand new refreshing album. Most hip-hop artists have been branded as commercial hip-hop and its kinda erasing the true meaning of hip-hop. Dont get me wrong I love guys like Jay-Z, Snoop, Ja Rule and DMX but I still love underground hip-hop. Talib Kweli provides a refreshing new sound without talking about diamonds,cars and money. Best tracks are Move Somethin, Africa Dream and Soul Rebels. Dont sleep on this album, its a nice piece to add to anyones hip-hop collection.