26 April 2017

REVIEW: Talib Kweli and Styles P - The Seven

Seasoned vets Talib Kweli and Styles P set to bring us the perfect conscience/street blend with their The Seven EP. Most Hip Hop heads probably had the "wait, when did these two get together to make an album!?" reaction. Really, you would have only known about this collab if you keep up on Hip Hop news like that, or if you follow the emcees on social media. But there is really one reason why most people ain't even know about this project. And that was the release date, April 14th, 2017. Or how it is known now, the day Kendrick Lamar broke the internet (again). I wouldn't expect these two emcees to flinch and switch up their release date to avoid coming out with DAMN., but damn. No one knew Kendrick would drop another classic level project, but most expected it. But as they say, steel sharpens steel. And Talib and Styles are cut from that cloth that welcomes competition. With a 7 track EP, The Seven (ha, I see what they did there), one expects a cohesive project with no throw away songs. So let's see if these emcees came correct.

The track "Nine Point Five" is produced by Marco Polo and sets the stage for lyrical assists from the rest to the LOX clique and Talib Kweli's emcee, Niko Is, on the hook. Had to Google him, dude is an emcee from Brasil. Aight then. Talib and Styles get the lion's share in terms of verse length (which makes sense, it is their EP), but Jada and Sheek round out the track with top notch bars. The street knowledge track touches on many social subjects but still remains a hard track. After all, the "9.5" is a reference to the Richter Scale (and the largest earthquake every registered was a..say it together..9.5).

But the track that got the most repeats from me was "Let It Burn". I'm sure the beat had a lot to do with that, it did come from 9th Wonder protege Khrysis. And keeping it in the 9th family, we also get LOCO bars from Jamla's first lady Rapsody. My ONLY complaint is that Chris Rivers is relegated to hook duty. This young emcee is a MONSTER, and I feel his feature is squandered by not letting him lay down a verse. That being said, his hook is of course great. I was gonna say, "Talib and Ghost KILL the track, but my favorite verse came from Rap". Then I would have copy and pasted the bars. Talib and Ghost DO kill this joint, but all three emcee's come SO CORRECT that I can't single out a bar or two to highlight. This track is an embarrassment of lyrical riches. I'll just leave it at that.

2017 is giving us an unprecedented mix of quality projects from old and new school lyricists. So it makes sense that these Hip Hop teachers ain't trying to get shown up by the students. The Seven is Talib and Ghost's answer to the majority of Hip Hop that is concerned with commercial success without honoring the culture. Talib Kweli says, "As hip-hop grows to the point where many rappers have become caricatures of themselves, myself and Styles P remain a part of a group of MCs that still consider the culture in every decision we make. [We are] the last ones left." Talib Kweli and Styles P might not have known that this year (so far) would produce a slew of "new school" emcees flooding the streets with quality projects. But they definitely knew the expectations from Hip Hop heads, once they heard these two vets were linking up. But it is really THEIR expectations that drove this project. They don't just want to make a "hot" track, or a hit radio single (this EP is definitely devoid of ANY radio single). The torch that they continue to hold is meant to shine a light on the Hip Hop that has fallen to the wayside. Whether it's a "conscience" or "street" track, these teachers know it's all about knowledge. And the wisdom that these lyrical goliaths drop with this gem is invaluable today. So for those enjoying the lyrical resurgence this year, definitely add The Seven to your rotation.

And peep the ENTIRE EP below!

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