This Week’s Main Pick
Street Kings: Reflection Eternal (Talib Kweli and Hi-Tek)
Holding It Down For: NYC and Ohio
Double Mixtape: The Re:Union
Real Spit: Nope. The NFL did not split these two up a few weeks ago. When Talib Kweli’s and Hi-Tek’s respective home teams — the New York Jets and the Cincinnati Bengals — went up against each other, the artists barely batted an eye. Talib is not much of football fan. Plus, he was spending a lot of time in the ‘Nnati recording verses for Reflection Eternal’s upcoming LP Revolutions Per Minute.
The first single, “Just Begun,” which features Mos Def, J. Cole and Jay Electronica, is also on the duo’s new mixtape The Re:Union.
” ‘Just Begun,’ that was a perfect example of having fun in the studio and getting able to get some of the greatest MCs of this time on my track,” Kweli said. “I just did the track a couple of days before I was able to get all the guys on the track. That’s classic right there. It proves to me that hip-hop is still there. The hunger is still there.”
The new tape consists of new material, freestyles and some of the two hip-hoppers’ greatest hits.
“We got history,” Talib said of why he wanted to include catalog material. “When I listen to the mixtape, sometimes I forget how dope we are. It was important people did the knowledge. You might not know I’m on my seventh album or that Hi-Tek dropped three solo albums. People in the mainstream culture come up and say, ‘Talib, where’s your beard?’ I haven’t had a beard in 10 years.”
Joints to Check For
» “Just Begun.” “The record started, Hi-Tek had a sample idea,” Talib explained. “A song he was working on in the studio. He flipped it. I was like, ‘That’s dope right there.’ I had the verse, I was in the studio kicking it with Jay Electronica. I was like, ‘You might need to get on this Reflection Eternal album.’ I was talking on text to J. Cole, trying to get some ideas. Then I was like, it might be crazy if I got Jay Electronica and J. Cole on the same record. Two new dudes on the record with me, they killing it, doing they thing. So I was like, ‘Nah.’ I had to go get some support. So I called my man Mos.
“We had to go find Mos. I need some backup,” he added with a laugh. “My verse is bragging and boasting, but it’s also a lot of literary references, which people might know me for. Jay Electronica is talking about his journey from New Orleans to New York. J. Cole is trying to shine, talking about his connection to Roc Nation. He’s got the girls. He’s trying to shine, establish his place with these other lyricists. Mos’ verse is super, super scientific and intelligent. Mos got flow for days. But if you don’t know nothing about the world, you ain’t ready for Mos Def’s verse.”
» “Get By” remix, featuring Mos Def, Kanye West, Busta Rhymes and Jay-Z. “Snoop was on that too. He did his own West Coast version,” Talib said. “That’s my biggest record culturally. It may not be my biggest-selling record, but it’s definitely the record people know me for. Timing! People needed to hear that record in 2003 or whenever we dropped it. The combination of where I was at and where Kanye was at really spoke to people from all walks of life. From 50 Cent to DJ Quik to even Bobbito. It really touched people’s lives. I’m blessed to be a part of that record. I give credit to the most high. I was a vessel to speak that.”
» “Internet Connection.” “It’s a record we did for fun just in the studio,” Talib explained. “We put it out last year just for fun. I don’t think they got the context. [But] we put it out on a mixtape [and] people act like it’s the greatest thing since sliced bread. I’m getting a lot of response — ‘I really like that record.’ They didn’t like when we dropped it by itself last year.”
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