Talib Kweli - super emcee, businessman and educated educator - has over the last few years taken up journalism and social media to further his impact upon the artform he helped build to it’s current height.
Nearly two years ago to the day, Kweli joined Medium - the online publishing platform co-founded by Evan Williams that counts Masta Ace, Ras Kass, Posdnuos, Mike Posner, Lecrae, Royce 5’9", DJ Rob Swift, RJD2 and Scarface among its contributing authors. Perhaps the most active hip-hop writer to use Medium, Kweli spent time studying at Cheshire Academy, Brooklyn Technical High School and New York University before he found success as an emcee, both as a solo artist and aside DJ Hi-Tek (as the Reflection Eternal), Mos Def (as Black Star) and Res (as the Idle Warship duo).
In August 2014, Kweli penned The Point That Went Missing - a near-3,000 word essay detailing his opinions on the Ferguson, Missouri debacle and his subsequent appearance on CNN. The editorial rightfully railed against the prison industrial complex, against rampant and undeniable police brutality and savagery, and against CNN’s Don Lemon and mainstream media’s portrayal of civil unrest.
One month later, Kweli penned In Defense Of Ms. Hill: It’s finally time to stop letting folks from outside of our community tell us how to feel about Lauryn Hill - another near-3,000 word essay in defense of Hill and her misconceived public persona and limited artistic output since changing music forever: first with the six-times Platinum-certified The Score as part of Fugees in 1996, then with her solo debut The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill - nominated for ten GRAMMY awards and winning five, both unprecedented for a female at the time - in 1998.
The article was published on the respected Cuepoint publication page, and included this particularly illuminating quote:
“True fans celebrate what they have already received, they don’t whine like spoiled children about not receiving things they were never owed in the first place. When (and if) an artist shares their art, it is a privilege not a right. Try to remove your personal feelings from that equation.”
In defense of his opinions and his overall societal views, Kweli consistently responds to differing opinions in real-time, using logic and facts to present his opinions and rebuttals.
Often wielding an intimidating vocabulary and unbreakable grip on historical accuracies (and fallacies), Kweli has repeatedly shown he’s not above cutting to the core of his adversaries - referring to his male attackers as “bitches” and “ho’s” and his female antagonists as “stupid” and “foolish.”
Following Kweli on Twitter is both hilarious theater and typically a high-level education in history, religion, politics and race relations - all taught by the esteemed Professor Kweli.
Kweli is a proud father, husband, man and artist - most likely in that order. He stands by and backs up his beliefs with undeniable truths - often exposing historical ignorance, racial / religious intolerance and political demagogues. Kweli is a master emcee and perhaps an even-better educator.
Above all else, Kweli cares.
He cares about humanity, about equality, about artistic freedom and the general well-being of all living creatures. He simply wants the stories told accurately. Perhaps feeling the inaccuracies and dishonesties of the media and hip-hop alike, Kweli has taken action into his own hands the same way he’s done with his company, Javotti Media, of which the slogan is:
“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.”
As I write this, Kweli is in the middle of a spirited debate regarding the historical mass genocides committed in the name of Christianity as compared to Islam, calling trolls “liars,” “fragile” and “idiot”’s. It’s refreshing from an insight perspective, hilarious from a comedy perspective and very necessary from a topical perspective.
Regardless of your stance on his beliefs, Kweli is a major figure in hip-hop who has committed to using his voice and name to stand up for those beliefs. He is admirable and consistent in his insistence on being heard on his terms. Besides being one of the most well-respected emcee's for nearly two decades, Talib Kweli Greene is a stand-up individual who champions truth and the underdog. His presence on Twitter and Medium are welcome holdovers until the next musical addition to his hip-hop legacy.
By Matteo Urella, a Boston-based writer. Read more of his work at Medium.
Photo Credits: DJ D-Nice