The Rapper’s Rapper

Talib Kweli is one of those hip-hop artists who gets tons of respect from other rappers but has somehow managed to fly slightly below the radar his whole career. His collaborations have been many, from his project with Mos Def (Black Star), to throwing down on tunes with Kanye West, Pete Rock, and the Roots. And rappers like Jay-Z and 50 Cent are constantly touting him in their songs and in public. Despite all that, Kweli hasn’t quite broken through the mainstream. But that’s not a bad thing. Kweli is the sort of rapper who approaches things from a different angle. His rhymes are never just about gang banging or getting crunk in the club. Rather, Kweli’s lyrics take aim at larger social issues: the pervasiveness of poverty in America in his most popular track “Get By,” the obsession with gun culture in hip-hop with “Gun Music,” and his anger with politics as usual in “The Proud.” And although his contemporaries continue to praise his thoughtful lyrics on one hand while pocketing the cash from their record sales with the other, Kweli has managed to maintain his convictions — and a core group of knowledgeable fans. Check him out tonight at 8 p.m. along with David Banner, B.O.B. and the 10-piece Rhythm Roots All-Stars when the Hip Hop Live Tour visits Revolution (200 W. Broward Blvd., Fort Lauderdale). Tickets cost $27. Call 954-727-0950, or visit
Thu., Oct. 16, 8 p.m., 2008
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John Linn