Talib Kweli (born Talib Kweli Greene, 1975) is a rapper from Brooklyn, New York. He is one of the most prominent rappers in underground hip-hop, and is critically acclaimed frequently, despite not being incredibly commercially successful. His name is Arabic, meaning 'the seeker' or 'student of truth and knowledge'. His parents were both college professors: his mother an English professor, his father a sociology professor. As a youth, he was drawn to Afrocentric rappers, such as De La Soul
(LA LE LU) and other members of the Native Tongues Posse
and soon began recording with producer Hi-Tek
and rapper Mos Def
who he met at central park, and later attended New York University with. With Mos Def (together the pair were known as Black Star
), Kweli achieved some mainstream success with the eponymously titled album Black Star. (1998) While Mos Def went on to a solo career, Kweli released the Hi Tek-produced Reflection Eternal
in 2000, which sold better than most alternative hip hop albums at the time. He has since released a critically acclaimed solo debut, Quality
, in 2002. In 2004, Kweli released his second solo album, The Beautiful Struggle
, which features production more akin to commercial rap, while Kweli's lyrical content retains its powerful social-political content. His third solo album Ear Drum
was released on August 21st, 2007 on Warner Bros./Blacksmith Music.
Kweli has created his own record label, Blacksmith Records and has recently signed acclaimed female rapper Jean Grae
, with rumors continuing to grow that underground veteran MF DOOM
is the next artist to be picked up. He left Geffen Records and has signed with the Warner Music Group.
He has since broken through slightly more towards the mainstream, thanks in large part to several appearance on the comedy show Chappelle's Show, both solo and with long-time collaborator Mos Def, this is due to a friendship between the host and creator of the show, comedian Dave Chappelle and the rapper. He also had a guest spot on friend and frequent collaborator Kanye West
's widely succesful debut album The College Dropout on the track "Get 'Em High". West has also produced some of Kweli's songs, including his biggest commerical hit "Get By". He also can be seen in a commercial for the NCAA's Big Ten Conference, rapping about the league's basketball teams.
Recently, he provided the voice for the main character, Trane, in the video game Marc Ecko's Getting Up
, released in 2006. Listen at Last.fm