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Eardrum / Talib Kweli

Talib Kweli - Eardrum

Warner Bros

What a journey it has been for Talib Kweli. Ever since he and Mos Def hit the scene as Black Star, followed by collaborating with Hi-Tek on Reflection Eternal, the expectations have been high. While there have been some shining moments (Quality) and some lackluster moments (The Beautiful Struggle), the feeling has been that Talib hasn't released his best yet. With "Eardrum" he may finally silence the critics. The first item that struck me about "Eardrum" was the number of songs. Twenty to be exact. Usually, when an hip-hop artist drops a cd with twenty plus songs, there are about seven to ten songs that could have easily been purged. However, I'm pleased to note that "Eardrum" is not only very enjoyable throughout but it's surely one of the best hip-hop cd's this year. The track "Country Cousins" displays Talib's affection for the south while holding his own on the southern delivery as well. The Will I.Am produced "Hot Thing" is a banger that should garner him plenty of airplay without alienating his core audience. The Pete Rock produced "Stay Around" finds Talib rapping about all the suggestions people have for him when they see him in the street (Talib, you should rap about this, you should rap about that, any more suggestions, yeah you in the back, you should rap on beat, you should rap more street). You can just imagine how often that happens. What happens often here is satisfaction from a disc seems to have a little something for everybody. Whether flirting with the ladies along with Kanye on "In The Mood" or asking the heavenly father to deliver him from temptation on "Hostile Gospel, Pt.2" (which I favor over Pt.1), the result is a consistent and focused effort. After months of delays, Talib delivers with arguably his best record to date.

Reg Dancy, 12/07