Ear Drum

Talib Kweli

Blacksmith/Warner Bros., 2007


REVIEW BY: Ben Ehrenreich


“Hip-hop’s not dead. It was on vacation”
– Talib on “Say Something.”

That statement rings true throughout this album as Talib displays an absolute hunger that I haven’t seen from him since Reflection Eternal. Talib gives the industry his lyrical warfare in almost every song, and what makes Ear Drum remarkable is that the twenty-track album fails to become redundant. Talib manages to find new ways to spit knowledge, and again, for the first time since Reflection Eternal, the production on this album actually is on par with his lyrical expertise.

Ear Drum starts off with the best track on this album: the Madlib-produced, Res-assisted “Everything Man”, which is an oasis. The track starts off with beautiful poetry eloquently describing that she may not remember the first time she heard Kweli, but he feels like he’s always been there; a much different message from the “OH MY GOD” fan clips included on previous hip-hop records. Shortly after his beautiful wordplay kicks in and his flow, which sometimes feels forced but in this case is anything but, and sounds are more comfortable and effortless than ever. Talib addresses the fact the he can’t please everyone, while the much slept-on Res kills the chorus, and all of this is spread over a fantastic beat courtesy of Madlib.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

This album contains the same consistency Talib has trademarked on his previous albums, except that he’s playing at a higher level now. Almost every song on here is filled with hunger and it almost feels like Talib has something to prove. While that is not the case, the enthusiastic, energetic Kweli is more than welcomed. This is evident on the growing-up anthem “NY Weather Report”, the Jean Grae duet “Say Something”, and the kid-focused “Eat To Live.” The latter is filled with gripping imagery and the reason we need a president who will actually do something for his own people.

Another interesting track is “The Perfect Beat,” a collaboration with the infamous KRS-One. The most interesting thing about this track is that Talib absolutely murders the former BDP star. I was very intrigued at how much he actually upstaged the legend and this makes a huge statement to any hip-hop head.

This album rarely falters, but I find it curious that the two times that it does falter happen to be on the two singles. “Listen” contains a great beat from Kwame, but features a less than stellar Kweli. “Hot Thing” a will.i.am production is a pretty stereotypical club song that doesn’t fit that well with the rest of the album.

Ear Drum is filled with positive messages that Talib clearly gets across. The music is phenomenal and Talib sounds more mature. This is Talib’s best solo album, and to sum up Ear Drum as he so eloquently puts it on “Hostile Gospel Pt. 1:” “That’s why I’m spittin’ freedom, we’ve had enough of trigger squeezing.”

Rating: B+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2007 Ben Ehrenreich and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Blacksmith/Warner Bros., and is used for informational purposes only.