Reflection Eternal

Talib Kweli & Hi Tek

Priority, 2000

http://www.talibkweli.com

REVIEW BY: Ben Ehrenreich

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 12/21/2007

Reflection Eternal is a musical masterpiece. From the Dave Chappelle Nelson Mandela impression to the magnificent storytelling of Kweli on the outro, this is about as thorough a record that is 20 tracks long as you will ever hear.

The sublime piano-heavy production of Hi Tek is what allows this lengthy debut to be as mesmerizing as an Aronofsky film. I cannot stress enough the importance of continuity when making an album. THAT is what is supposed to make the difference between an album and a mixtape. Instead, many MCs just compile a bunch of lackluster tracks around their handpicked singles and press shuffle. Thank God Talib & Hi Tek decided to make an effort to generate an opus that flows from beginning to end, and Hi Tek gets the majority of the props for that aspect.

There are countless examples of fantastic albums compiled with 1 MC and 1 producer. From Guru & Premo to The D.O.C. & Dre to Snoop & Dre, to Common & No I.D. to Gift Of Gab & Chief Xcel to Slug & Ant to…you get the point. Quite frankly, I am surprised that more MCs and producers don’t realize that more times than not it is a winning combo. To be honest, although all of Talib’s solo albums have been above average, they haven’t been superior to what this duo achieved on bim_ad_daily_vault_print_250
Reflection Eternal.

Hi Tek’s melodic low-key production style melds so well with Talib’s rapid fire flow that you would have thought they would have continued this combination for ever. “Africa Dream” is the perfect example of this. Talib waits well over a minute to start shreddin’ mics, but once he does, it’s over a completely minimalist beat that allows the listener to latch on to every swift vocal Talib delivers. As Talib goes on, the rhythm section comes in to give the production more of a backbone, yet still its subtle. Hi Tek waits until Talib finishes his verse to truly shine with a mixture of horns, scratches and children chanting. People, this is art. Such attention to detail is so painfully rare in hip-hop that this track and album are beyond refreshing.

This attention to detail is exhibited throughout the entire album and most importantly on “The Blast”, the only cut where Hi Tek actually spits as well. Now picking your favorite Reflection Eternal track is comparable to picking your favorite Ilmatic joint, but if I had to choose, it would definitely be “The Blast.” It is not the best lyrical joint on the album, but it is the perfect marriage of vocals and production. Hi Tek offers a beautifully constructed track with steady percussion that provides an exquisite backdrop to both Talib’s and Hi Tek’s verse with the incredibly talented Vinia Mojica, allowing her vocals to be peppered in throughout. Believe me, words do not begin to do this track justice.

As a critic, I take the grading scheme very seriously. I am not the type of person to give out As to every good album, only perfect ones, which may only be 10-15 that I’ve heard. Ladies and gentlemen, Reflection Eternal is one of those albums; believe me, it's well worth your money.

Rating: A

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© 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 Priority, and is used for informational purposes only.