IdleV

Talib Kweli Talks Idle Warship's New Project, Shares Why It's Not Hip-Hop

Talib Kweli appreciates all fan support, but be careful on how you compliment him. Habits of the Heart, the Brooklyn emcee’s latest album with Philly vocalist Res as the duo Idle Warship, is a poppy, dance-ready departure from the soulful, boom bap formula he’s perfected since the late 1990s. So if you give his new record props by using the oft-abused phrase “real hip-hop,” you need more people. “If you … told me [Idle Warship] was ‘true hip-hop,’ you didn’t listen to it. You’re just supporting your idea of what you like about me, and I’m not mad at that,” Kweli explains. “But it’s definitely misguided to say, ‘Idle Warship is a hip-hop album.’” In an interview with VIBE, Talib gives the scoop on debunking genre myths with Res, why the new Black Star records with Mos Def are unlikely to result in an album, and explains why boycotting Tyler Perry for casting Kim Kardashian is hustling backwards. — William Ketchum III

You’ve done entire projects with pretty notable names. You did the Black Star record with Mos Def, the Reflection Eternal albums with Hi-Tek, and Liberation with Madlib. What kind of things do you look for in a partner when you’re teaming up for an entire album?

Integrity and the relationship. I was in Cincinnatti working with Mood, and just kept picking Hi-Tek’s beats. Mos Def and I, our style and our musical interests, where we lived at, and even the fact that we have children of the same age is what made Black Star happen. Res has always been around, and we wanted to get out of the box people placed us into with this project. With Madlib, I was working on Eardrum, and there were too many Madlib beats I wanted to pick for the album to not credit him. That’s how Liberation got created.

Like you said, this album is much different from what you guys have done in the past. Many people may not see you as the conscious, boom bap soulful rapper, but what box is Res in?

Res is someone who’s looked at as alternative soul, neo-soul, or some sort of weird, rock-based thing, but it’s hard to define. Since she’s from Philly and is Black, people automatically say, “She’s neo-soul,” but she’s not. There’s nothing neo-soul about what she’s done. Since she works with me, people say, “Oh she’s hip-hop soul,” but she’s not hip-hop soul. Res is really her own type of rock thing. But that [causes fan restrictions] too, because she does the softer, alternative rock thing, and sometimes people don’t see how she can hear to a club beat or an uptempo dance type of thing. So that’s what Idle does for her.

So what kind of feedback have you gotten from fans who have placed you in those boxes?

I was a little worried about the feedback, but I’m excited. The people who took a chance on the record really seem to love it, and even the people who expected the worst are pleasantly surprised. This is the feedback I’ve gotten, I haven’t seen much negative feedback. I expected people, at the very least, to be honest, like, “OK, Kweli is trying something different, and it’s not really for me.” But I’m not even getting that—I’m getting people that say, “I’m really enjoying it.”

I think part of the positive reception is that the album sounds really organic. It doesn’t just sound like you were trying to be different, but it’s how that genre is actually made. A lot of rappers are trying to expand outside of conventional rap sounds now, but it sounds forced.

That was really important for us, for it to sound organic. It’s very, very important that people don’t look at this as a money grab. People see me as an underground artist, and this is underground hip-hop. This music probably has a bigger chance of achieving pop success than most of the stuff I’ve put out through my career. So it may be easy for people to look at this like, “They’re switching it up because it ain’t working for them,” and I don’t want people to come away from it like that. Hip-hop has been very good to me. I paid for this record myself, and I wouldn’t be in the position to fund something fun and ballsy like this, if I wasn’t successful with what I was doing in hip-hop.

This isn’t to take away from anything I’m doing. If this isn’t for you, you can pick up Gutter Rainbows, or Prisoner of Consciousness, which is coming out the top of next year. It’s really, truly how that music was supposed to sound. We focused very much on making sure it was authentic, sincere and genuine. There’s a song on the end as a bonus cut called “Burning Desire,” that’s on if you bought it on iTunes. The reason that’s a bonus cut is because that’s actually the song I think crosses that line. When I hear that track, to me, it sounds like what’s trending in the club. Even though I love what we did on it, and I was proud of what we did on it, I was hesitant to put it on the album, so it’s a bonus cut.

On Habits Of The Heart, she’s really the most prominent voice than she is on your solo records, when she’s just complementing a track or two. Was that a different process for you, to not be the main voice on these songs that you usually are?

Yeah, but there’s a lot of different strands to what you just said. Idle started, from my perspective, as a showcase for Res. I’m a huge Res fan, and to me she never got her due, so people don’t know how dope she is. So a lot of me falling back on the record is to showcase her. I’m more famous than she is, but I wanted people to really appreciate what she brings to the table, and I don’t want it to depend on me being witty or clever in a verse for people to get into it. I wanted Res to be the hook, and I think she did a good job on the album.

 

The other part of that is the issue is that I have so many things going on, from Black Star to my solo work, that logistically, it would be hard for me to be all over that album, and also promote Black Star, and also promote my solo album Prisoner of Consciousness. It’s hard enough as it is already, but me not being so prominent vocally on the songs makes it easier. I am more prominent behind the scenes on this album. Making an executive decision, paying for stuff, setting things up, and the access I have to the record industry has allowed this record to happen. But the savvy music writer will notice that Res is at the forefront of this project.

From the Web

More on Vibe

: Michael Jackson leaves the courtroom on a break at the Santa Barbara County Courthouse for the second day of closing arguments in his child molestation trial June 3, 2005 in Santa Maria, California. Jackson is charged in a 10-count indictment with molesting a boy, plying him with liquor and conspiring to commit child abduction, false imprisonment and extortion. The jury is expected to begin deliberations on the case later today. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian-Pool/Getty Images)

HBO Wants Court To Dismiss $100 Million Lawsuit Filed By Michael Jackson’s Estate

HBO wants a California court to toss a $100 million lawsuit brought on by Michael Jackson’s estate over the Leaving Neverland documentary. In a motion for dismissal filed Friday (Aug. 16), the cable network alleged that the estate's lawsuit violates the First Amendment.

“Plaintiffs’ claims fail because they violate the First Amendment, Due Process Clause and public policy, and in any event, the contract on which they are based is inapplicable and expired,” the motion states.

“California’s Anti-SLAPP law empowers—indeed requires—this Court to put an end to this litigation now,” the document continues.  “Accordingly, the Court should strike Plaintiffs’ Petition and claims with prejudice, and award attorneys’ fees and costs to HBO pursuant to the anti-SLAPP law’s mandatory attorneys’ fees clause for prevailing defendants.”

The Jackson Estate sued HBO in February, ahead of Leaving Neverland’s March premiere. In the Emmy-nominated documentary, accusers Wade Robson and James Safechuck, claim Jackson sexually abused them when they were boys.  The estate argues that the documentary breached a 1992 non-disparagement agreement between the network and Jackson, who died in 2009.

HBO’s motion maintains that the “only possible reason why Plaintiffs filed their Petition in court was to attract maximum attention to their public relations campaign against Leaving Neverland and the documentary subjects.”

In a statement to Deadline, a rep for Jackson’s estate slammed the network’s allegations. “There is no expiration term in the contract, nor does it terminate as a matter of law. Likewise, the First Amendment does not protect HBO from willfully and blatantly violating its contractual obligations, as it did here. The Estate of Michael Jackson is confident that HBO’s latest attempt to avoid its contractual obligations will fail.”

A hearing in the case is scheduled for Sept. 19.

Continue Reading
Getty Images

California Woman Claims School Bully Left Son With Permanent Brain Damage

A Southern California mom says her son suffered permanent brain damage after a violent run-in with a bully, CBS Los Angeles reports.  The woman, identified only as “Sarah” to protect her and her son’s identity, is suing Animo Westside Charter Middle School in Playa Vista, California, over a 2018 altercation in which her son was attacked by a bully and placed in the school office for several minutes before paramedics were called.

Footage of the altercation was caught on the school’s surveillance cameras and appears to show her 12-year-old son getting off the bus before being approached by a larger student. The apparent bully punched her son and put him in a chokehold.

Ben Meiselas, a lawyer representing the family, claims the bully did a YouTube search for “the most painful pressure points on the neck” prior to altercation. A school staff member can also be seen walking by as the boy is being attacked. The boy is eventually brought inside the school.

Staff members realize that the boy is hurt and take him into the school’s main office to lay him on the floor. The boy suffered a seizure in the office, and lost consciousness twice, the lawsuit states. School officials are also accused of failing to call paramedics for several minutes.

“By the time I get there, I’m thinking paramedics [arrived] and he’s going to have help,” said the boy’s mother. “My son is literally laying there still in the middle of the office floor completely black and blue.”

Despite viewing video of the altercation, the school district has yet to apologize to the victim and his mother, Meiselas said. “The fact that they can watch that video and not so much offer an apology is really, really, really disgusting.”

See more in the video below.

Continue Reading
Nicholas Hunt/Getty Images for The Reform Alliance

Jay-Z To Reportedly Become Part Owner Of NFL Team

It’s been a whirlwind few days for Jay-Z and the NFL, and it seems that the relationship could run deeper than their recently announced partnership. According to TMZ Sports, Jay is in line to own a “significant” portion of an NFL team.

Although it's unclear which team he plans to purchase, a source told the website that the deal is expected to be secured in the “near future.” The Brooklyn native allegedly wants to buy into a team because he’s a “huge fan” of the league, and already works in the business by way of his Roc Nation Sports imprint.

The source added that Hov “wants to continue to be a change agent for the NFL,” and that the deal doesn't conflict with him owning a sports agency because he's not involved in the “operations of NFL players” on the Roc Nation roster.

Jay previously owned a small stake in the Brooklyn Nets, which he sold in 2013. The timing of the potential team purchase comes as Jay continues to receive backlash after formally announcing his collaboration with the league. The decision to partner with the NFL was “partially motivated” by Jay’s desire to own a team, according to Bleacher Report.

During a press conference alongside NFL commissioner Roger Goodell earlier in the week, Jay was asked if Colin Kapernick (who remains without a job in the NFL after launching a protest against police brutality) knew about the partnership. Jay initially told reporters that he spoke with Kapernick about working with the NFL but the athlete's girlfriend, radio personality Nessa, denied that the conversation took place. She also expressed her disappointment with how the partnership is being promoted.

“The disappointment in Jay-Z isn’t in the partnership. The disappointment is wrapping it in social justice,” Nessa told Hot 97 Wednesday (Aug. 14). “I don’t mind you doing a business deal, but I do mind you wrapping it in social justice when you’re working with an organization that denies someone an opportunity.”

 

Continue Reading

Top Stories