I Am An Artist of The People: Kweli Speaks on Gucci Collab

A few weeks ago a song leaked featuring Talib Kweli and Gucci Mane.  The song is called “Poltergeist”, and I posted it within minutes right here. In the post I remarked, “ And worlds have officially collided and a million backpackers have no idea what to do with themselves.”  I think the song is pretty cool, and at this point in my life, am happy to see Kweli continuing to make music cause he is one of my favorite emcees… ever.  He’s also a cool dude, and has always treated me and RH with respect and humility.  Being a fan of Hip Hop, a DJ, and yes, a recovering Hip Hop snob, I knew that not everyone would be as happy to see him perform with Gucci simply because for people that really really hate Gucci’s music and how they feel it “hurts Hip Hop” Kweli is their soundtrack.  Mychal Smith wrote an article entitled The Demise of The Conscious Rapper following Kweli x Gucci, using this situation to again point out the end of the conscious-era of Hip Hop, and simultaneously say that Kweli, ” is throwing dirt on top of the grave. He wants to serve everyone, it seems, releasing songs to dispute the Arizona immigration law along with the aforementioned Gucci Mane collaboration. I understand not wanting to be singularly defined, but when you try to be everything to everyone you end up being nothing to no one.”

Talib Kweli read the article and responded with a full letter of his own.  In his letter, Kweli talks about working on his new album Prisoner of Conscious, his career-long problems with the conscious rapper title, and also counterpoints Smith.  He writes, “I say people like Mychal Smith are every bit as caught up in the flashing lights as the “ignorant” masses they like to judge. Instead of celebrating it, they get joy from speaking against it. They truly believe not liking Gucci Mane makes them intellectually superior to say, some chic down south. They pay so much attention to what they perceive to be negative, based on a limited world view, that they miss the positive, even when it’s right in their face.”

It’s funny because after the song leaked I also posted my interview with Talib Kweli from 2004 (Treasurechest Vault: Commercial or Underground?) in which he also voiced his concerns about the limiting title of “conscious rapper”.  I can see both sides.  Artists don’t want to be limited, and, after all this is a business and work is work.  Kweli benefits in many ways from working with Gucci.  He gains listeners, and probably views it also as a creative exercise, a chance to further his reach.

I also see why fans may be upset, similar to how Red Sox fans erupted when Johnny Damon joined the Yankees or why other players get booed when returning to former stomping grounds.  Fans have a passion and invested interest in the artists they support.  I think it’s speaks volumes that Kweli even got criticized at all, it shows that people care a lot about his music and it really means something to them…

I say let the man work, and let the work speak for itself…

Read Talib Kweli’s full response here.


RH Staff

Post from the RubyHornet staff

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