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Talib Kweli

A Rapper To Believe In

February 19th, 2018

“Gucci gang, Gucci gang, Gucci gang, Gucci gang

Gucci gang, Gucci gang, Gucci gang (Gucci gang!)

Spend ten racks on a new chain

My b**** love do cocaine, ooh

I f*** a b****, I forgot her name

I can't buy a b**** no wedding ring

Rather go and buy Balmains.”


These are lyrics of a top Billboard song in 2017. Mind you, this is 95% of the song… Rap has definitely evolved since artists like Eminem and Tupac, or should we say, devolved. Many rap songs we listen to today involve themes of drugs, anonymous sex, and absurd amounts of money. When did rap turn away from the poets and into the arms of addicts? Some think the artists, such as Tupac, are long gone; but I’m here to tell you they’re not.


Just as a point of reference, here are lyrics from Tupac regarding the systematic oppression of poverty.


“You know they got me trapped in this prison of seclusion

Happiness, living on the streets is a delusion

Even a smooth criminal one day must get caught

Shot up or shot down with the bullet that he bought

Nine millimeter kickin' thinkin' about what the streets do to me

Cause they never talk peace in the black community.”


How does this relate to Talib Kweli? If you’re asking this question, you should go listen to his music right now. Kweli is not only a hip hop recording artist and entrepreneur, but a social activist as well.


Talib Kweli’s “Radio Silence Tour” brings inspirational artists back to the forefront. The tours’ second stop was a little place we all know and love, The Grog Shop. Friday’s lineup involved local artists along with artists on the tour. Go locals!


MuAmin Collective, Locals to Love

MuAmin Collective are the snazzy thrift store shoppers that rapped about staying strong and united. MuAmin Collective started as a concept about rapid fire critical thought over beats and it looks like they’ve stayed true to their ideals. Friday night they were bringing up points about today’s rappers, one of the most interesting being that if you can mumble, you can rap. However, not all of their songs contained serious depth. One that got the crowd jumping around was a shoutout to all the ex’s. Many hands were raised up in memory of ex lovers, whether positive or negative, everyone was singing along with the chorus. These two men, and their DJ, create all the beats themselves and are local to Cleveland! They play everywhere from Mahall’s to Happy Dog so look for their next gig!


DJ Spintelect Spinnin' Intellect

DJ Spintelect set up next, not just a computer, but the whole shebang. It was nice to see a DJ actually using a board to mix songs together in creative ways. He played bangerz from Kendrick and Kanye along with his own mixes. Two men behind me rapped so much it was like I was at two concerts at once, both equally entertaining. What I enjoyed most about DJ Spintelect was how he began with oriental or romantic instrumentals and transformed it into hip hop while also keeping instruments like the violin in the background.


Niko IS Bringing the Fruit

Niko IS had the best hair of the night, hands down. He also had the darkest voice, if you’ve listened to Tyler the Creator, it was similar. Starting out by handing a bowl of fruit to the audience, Niko IS is a creative soul that cares about people. Some insightful lyrics from Friday night include, “I’m just tryna see what livin’ in the future means…” If you want to hear more feel free to visit his Soundcloud! Talib Kweli and Niko IS sang one song together about loving one another and afterwards, a fight almost broke out. Very ironic, but also saddening.



Man of the Hour

Talib Kweli is a man who cares immensely about social activism and positive change. Why two people decided to fight at his concert, we may never know. Kweli, during his first song, stopped everything and confronted the two, here’s what he said, word for word.

“We got Trump in the f***ing white house my n***a. We got people dying in these f***ing streets, dying over real shit. You are here celebrating with beautiful people. The speakers is loud, the drinks is flowing, n***as be blowing that good smoke and all that. Why would you choose now to air your grievances? What did a n***a do step on your shoes? Did a n***a spill your drink? If you got beef from a n***a across town or somethin like that, take that s**t the f**k outside. Don’t bring that s**t in here. Don’t bring that s**t in here. N***as is f**kin up my flow and s**t. You know I can’t ignore the fights. I can’t ignore the fights. I can’t ignore the fights. We are a community here, this is a community.”


After this passionate off-the-cuff monologue, Kweli decided to rap the second verse of his song without any music behind him. This impacted the crowd like a boulder being thrown.


Kweli continued to perform like nothing happened after that, rapping songs from his new album, “Radio Silence”. Radio Silence was released in November of 2017 and featured artists such as Waka Flocka Flame, Anderson Paak, Rick Ross and Myka 9. If you want to listen to it click here.


Kweli has worked with some big names in hip hop. You may recognize Mos Def, Kendrick Lamar, and Kanye West. Being a motivated entrepreneur Kweli started his own label in 2011 called Javotti Media. Kweli created “a platform for independent thinkers and doers. A home for those who are driven by passion and vision. A place for us and those like us.” If you think you have the passion and drive as a musician, definitely check this page out.


This concert preached love and passion to a diverse crowd eager to praise it. With The Grog Shop being extremely intimate in setting, it was the perfect place to see the Radio Silence Tour. If you’re interested in expanding your mind and testing your morals, look up these artists’ music, or even better, go see them in concert! Here’s a list of the tour

If you’re interested in some local talent similar to Kweli’s, spend five minutes here!

Review by Courtney Ramey

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