Talib Kweli has been a fixture in hip-hop for more than 20 years. He released his debut album, Quality, in 2002 which spawned the popular single “Get By” which was produced by Kanye West. Throughout his career, he has also released several collaboration projects and he’s gotten to work with some of the biggest names in rap music. Known for his conscious lyrics, Talib has earned the respect of countless people in and outside the music industry. While he hasn’t received a lot of mainstream success, there are lots of people who have him on their list of top five lyricists. It’s been a few years since he’s released a project, but we know we haven’t heard the last of him yet. Keep reading to learn 10 things you didn’t know about Talik Kweli.
1. Doug E. Fresh Was An Early Inspiration
Hip-hop music has always been an important part of Talib Kweli’s life, and he credits Doug E. Fresh with getting him into rapping. He told NPR, “I think Doug E. Fresh was the rapper who inspired me to write my first rhyme, but I really gravitated towards it when I heard De La Soul and Public Enemy in ’87 and ’88. Like De La Soul, Public Enemy, Slick Rick, Big Daddy Kane, Rakim — those were the people who made me wanna try to create songs.”
2. He Comes From A Family Of Educators
Talib Kweli was born and raised in Brooklyn. His mother is an English professor at Medgar Evers College and his father is an administrator at Adelphi University. Although Talib didn’t end up working in higher education, his brother, Jamal, is a law professor at Columbia Law School.
3. He Got Banned From Twitter
Throughout his career, Talib Kweli has been known for being a pretty unproblematic guy, so you can only imagine how stunned people were when he got into a very public battle with a woman on Twitter. The incident started when a woman named Maya Moody made a tweet addressing Black rappers, including Kweli, who married light-skinned women. Talib Kweli responded to defend himself, but many believed that his response quickly turned into cyberbullying. Twitter ultimately decided to permanently suspend his account for violating their terms of service.
4. He’s A Father
Talib has never been the type of celebrity who likes to share too much about his personal life, but we do know that he is a very proud father. He has two children, Diani and Amani. Both of his kids have gotten involved in rap music over the years although neither has found mainstream popularity.
5. He Went To Boarding School
Talib’s path in life has been much different than many other rap artists. Although he grew up in an inner-city, Talib was eventually sent to Connecticut where he attended Chesire Academy. The well-known prep school costs over $60,000 per year for students who choose to board.
6. His Style Used To Be A Lot More Complicated
If you’ve ever heard Talib’s music, you would probably agree that the meaning of his lyrics isn’t always the easiest to decipher. However, what many people don’t realize is that his music actually used to be a lot harder to decipher. During an interview with NPR, he said, “I think my first raps were probably more complicated than they are now. I think they were probably more obscure and more abstract. I think over the years I’ve learned, to my benefit, to be more accessible. I’ve learned how to flow better, I’ve learned how to create references in people’s minds that work for them.”
7. He Has An Interesting Take On Conscious Rap
Conscious rap is the umbrella that most people put Talib Kweli under, but he believes that the term conscious is actually more versatile than most people give it credit for. He believes that consciousness is more about a mindset than the type of music a person makes.
8. He Started A Record Label
In 2011, Talib Kweli founded a record label called Javotti Media. According to its website, Javotta Media is “A platform for independent thinkers and doers. A home for those who are driven by passion and vision. A place for us and those like us.” The label currently has six artists including Kweli.
9. Activism Is Important To Him
Talib Kweli’s music is probably what most people know him best for, but that isn’t the only way he’s used his platform over the years. He is also very passionate about issues that impact the Black community and he has been very vocal about things such as police brutality and racism.
10. Ne Studied At NYU
Since Talib comes from a very educated family, you can probably guess that education is something that is very important to him. After high school, he went on to attend New York University where he studied experimental theater. It’s unclear whether or not he completed the program.