"Conscious rap" needs to be eliminated from hip-hop's vernacular. Or at the very least, Talib Kweli's name should be stricken from its rolls. Nobody's quite sure what the term means: Music that doesn't focus on rims and butts? Songs in which the listener's life isn't explicitly threatened?
Kweli himself has said he doesn't like being pigeonholed by the term, and the recent release of Ear Drum, his sixth solo album, seems an appropriate time to let him go. The disc is a heaping mess, neither smart nor groundbreaking, and filled with 2.5 clichés per verse.
"It's been a long journey, but they say that life's path is not about the destination, it's all about the journey," he informs us at the beginning of "NY Weather Report." We then learn that if you can make it in New York City, "You can make it anywhere. "
"More or Less" catalogs how he feels about a number of mundane issues. "More building/Less destroying," he states, adding "More marijuana/Less coke/More freestyles/Less written/More history/Less mystery/More Beyoncé/Less Britney." "More happiness/Less misery" would be neat as well. The song's blasé ruminations correlate with a January post on his MySpace blog, in which he called the Black Eyed Peas' will.i.am a "living embodiment" of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s "dream." (What the . . . ?)
Ear Drum does boast top-notch production, and Kweli's adroit flow nearly compensates for his crappy lyrics. So abandon the shrill platitudes, buddy. They're about as effective as an abstinence campaign.