Talib Kweli on Working With Mos Def, Boycotting Tyler Perry

You also mentioned that you’re in the studio with Mos working on Black Star records. What is it like recording with him regularly again, instead of just one or two joints for each others’ albums?

Well that’s what we’re doing. We don’t have plans for an album; we do songs here and there, and if we like something, we put it out. The music we’re putting out next year isn’t necessarily going to be in album format, it’s going to be song by song. When the Black Star album came out, people were excited about albums. But these fans aren’t excited about albums. Research points to the fact that they’re excited for individual artists, individual movements, and individual things. It’ll switch back at some point, but right now, the focus is songs. … We put out this latest one because we were feeling it.

You also put the album on Spotify before it actually released; that’s actually where I’m listening to it. What was the reasoning behind that, and how do you feel about that decision weeks later?

Point blank, it’s a challenging thing to get people to understand that this is not Talib Kweli featuring Res, this is not Res featuring Talib Kweli, this is not hip-hop, this is not neo-soul. No matter what I say, it’s been hard to get people to understand that. The best way to let people know is to just let them hear it. That’s what was behind the decision to put the album on Spotify.

…I don’t know if it’s going to translate into sales, but what it has done is get people to hear the album and understand it. So when people are excited about the album, they can now know what they’re excited about. Before the Spotify thing, a lot of the excitement was just over people being fans of me and Res. … If they truly indeed bought it, I’m happy, and I don’t call them out for it. Hey man, you’re supporting what I do. But if you listened to Idle Warship and told me it 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. But it’s definitely misguided to say, “Idle Warship is a hip-hop album.” … Some of the support of Idle Warship is so glowing and so gushing, and then they put at the end of it, “Real hip-hop.” And I’m like, “Aw, they don’t get it.”

Got a random question outside of music. Tyler Perry casted Kim Kardashian in his upcoming film, The Marriage Counselor. As a result, some of his fans are threatening to boycott the film, and/or his work—

That’s the dumbest thing I’ve heard all day. I don’t know what the film is about, but she may be perfect for the role. Maybe she’s not perfect for the role, but he cast her because when you put her in a movie, people are going to come see her. Either way, it’s a win-win for him; either way, it’s a good decision on his part. I’ve got respect for any businessman who employs some of my favorite artists, from Cicely Tyson to Taraji P. Henson, all of these women have gotten checks from Tyler Perry. Tyler Perry has been supporting the Black actress more than anyone in Hollywood. Whether you agree with him or not, whether you like his movies or not. But we’re not talking about quality plots or storylines and this and that. But the idea that you boycott? First of all, if you’re the type of person who cares about race issues, then you need to respect that man for what he’s done for Black actors. I’m talking as a working artist, not as a community leader. Personally, I’m not a fan per se of his films, but I damn sure know why they work. And if you are a fan of his films, you don’t have any business worried about if he casts Kim Kardashian, that’s a great idea.