The Best of Underground Hip-Hop

"We get high on all types of drug, when all you really need is love, to get by, just to get by."

- Talib Kweli

"At exactly which point do you start to realize, that life without knowledge is death in disguise?"

- Talib Kweli

Dead Prez, Common, Dave Chappelle, Kanye West, & Talib Kweli

Talib Kweli - New Leaders (ft. The Underachievers)

Talib Kweli released this song today in anticipation for his new album Gravitas, which drops December 15th. This will be his second album to come out in 2013, with the first being Prisoner of Conscious. He’s showcasing slightly more features in his music this year than what he typically does. For the most part, all of these features have been really enjoyable and add some refreshing variation to his music.

New Leaders is produced by Statik Selektah and features Brooklyn’s rising hip-hop duo The Underachievers. I feel that Talib’s verse is by far the best on the track. He spits one of the most dominating flows I’ve heard from him in a while. On the other hand, even though Issa Gold’s contribution was satisfying, I know he could’ve delivered better. All in all, the song leaves a lasting impression and has me excited for what Gravitas has to offer.

"I know you up in this club, I know you don’t give a fuck. You told me what you don’t like, you made that clear, now what do you love?"

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My Song Rating: 9.2 out out of 10

"I started rapping because I wanted people to hear what I have to say, I want as many people to hear me as possible."

- Talib Kweli

Dave Chappelle has the absolute best taste in music.

R.A. the Rugged Man - Learn Truth (ft. Talib Kweli)

I’ve been a fan of R.A. the Rugged Man for years, which is appropriate since he’s been active off and on in the hip-hop scene for about two decades. Unfortunately, he hasn’t released nearly as much music as he could’ve within this time. Learn Truth is my favorite song off of his incredible 2013 album Legends Never Die, which is only his second official studio album, but it clearly represents his best work thus far. You’ll also be seeing it on my list of the best hip-hop albums of the year. He boasts one of the most pronounced and fastest flows in all of hip-hop, and he fully utilizes these talents throughout the album to solidify the fact that he is a “legend”. With the help of Talib Kweli, Learn Truth represents one of the most (if not the most) lyrically dense songs of the year, and it has an extraordinarily dope music video. This is something you’ll want to listen to while reading along with the lyrics at least once in order to fully grasp the song in all its entirety.

"Airplanes blown up by Islamic extremists. In religion there’s always drama, whether worshiping the Prophet Mohammed or Jesus."

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My Song Rating: 9.8 out of 10

A side by side comparison of the various song styles for 7 very different hip-hop artists.

What’s your favorite song(s) by Talib Kweli?

Marco Polo - G.U.R.U. (ft. Talib Kweli & DJ Premier)


Without exaggeration, this is my favorite eulogy hip-hop song ever. The production is phenomenal, as I would expect from Marco Polo, my favorite Canadian producer. Everyone on this track obviously went all out. Cost isn’t a factor when you’re making the song for your fans just as much as you’re making it for own piece of mind and your lost friend. I didn’t realize Talib Kweli and Guru had such a history, and Talib’s potent story telling delivers on all fronts. Guru died on this day (April 19) exactly 3 years ago at the age of 48 from Cancer. He was a king of the golden era, and consistently delivered sharp and well thought out lyrics over DJ Premier’s classic beats while they were Gang Starr. My you forever rhyme in pace and rest in beats.

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My Song Rating: 9.8 out of 10

The Roots - Rolling With Heat (ft. Talib Kweli)

This is one of the better songs off of their outstanding 2002 album Phrenology. It’s kind of weird to think that this song is actually decade old. I fondly remember when this album fist came out, since it was around the same time I first started fucking with real hip-hop. Of course I didn’t fully appreciate it at the time, but after a couple years I came to realize how good The Roots actually were. They are still one of the best hip-hop groups to this day, which they exemplified with their last album Undun. It’s a pretty phenomenal piece of work, with some of their best songs to date, such as Tip The Scale (ft. Dice Raw) and Make My (ft. Big K.R.I.T. & Dice Raw). Just goes to show real hip-hop ain’t dead and it never died, it just lives underground…doing it’s best to fight back to reclaim the surface.

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My Song Rating: 8.7 out of 10

(Source: Spotify)

Talib Kweli - Cold Rain

Even though his album Gutter Rainbows is not my favorite Talib Kweli album, it’s a solid piece of work. Cold Rain is definitely the best song off of it. A very beautiful work of audio art. The piercing piano and the deep lyrics…damn good stuff. 

I rated this the 27th best song of the year for my “30 Best Hip-Hop Songs of 2011” list.

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My Song Rating: 9.5 out of 10