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ATTEY: Hope for future given through raps

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Sometimes music can be an escape. Talib Kweli created an escape that many Americans feel they need at the moment.

Talib Kweli released his new project, “Awful People are Great at Parties,” before the presidential election occurred. Retrospectively, the playlist seems prophetic, almost as if one of the old heads in hip hop knew there would be turmoil in the coming days and wanted to provide listeners an alternative to the uncertainty.

Kweli appears on roughly half of the project’s 12 tracks, making it more of a group collaboration than a solo album. Many of the songs were released previously as singles.

Production is strong throughout, with beat-makers ranging from Nottz to Kaytranada, all the way to the late legend J Dilla. Live instrumentation also permeates the album.

“Drunken Eyes,” the intro song, is the most musically beautiful track, featuring a contrast between blasting horns and the soft vocals of MeLa Machinko. “City Girls,” a Southern-sounding track with inspired production from Cory Mo, is another highlight.

K’Valentine’s repetitive flow on “Delusional” leaves something to be desired, but Kaytranada’s amazing instrumental comes close to making up for it.

The track “Tamahmgiso” contributes to the smooth, jazzy sound of the album, while brash lyrics over J Dilla’s spacey production on “Massive Funk” create a groovy yet chill masterpiece.

The project closes with the piano-driven “All About You.” A striking melody combined with Timothy Bloom’s charming vocals set the stage for Kweli’s start-stop, rapid fire flow to finish the track. His verse delivers, and it is an engaging ending to the album.

While the project is filled with one-liners casually addressing the social climate of the country, the song “Every Ghetto Pt. 2″ chooses to attack it directly. It is perhaps the strongest song appearing on the album with two Kweli verses, Aloe Blacc’s soulful hook and a Problem guest verse kicking in over an optimistic beat.

Kweli raps in the second verse, “Silence is prayer, prayer is love, love is faith, faith is service / When I’m cuttin’ the strings of the puppets / That live in the ghetto, Geppettos is always nervous / They love when we clutter the gutters / And never discover our truest purpose /And praying in vanity, that’s the real profanity / Not all that swears are curses.”

These lines alone might speak louder than anything else Kweli has rapped in recent memory.

The song drips with determination, but also sadness and frustration. Kweli has the golden one-liner, “You can change what you wear and the effects will never wear off,” capturing the fear that one might escape the ghetto, but not the negative perception that follows.

While this individual song tears into current racial divides with refreshing insight, perhaps the biggest relief is simply the existence of a new album at all.

At a time when America’s future appears divided and uncertain, “Awful People are Great at Parties” gives the impression that the sun will continue to rise, Cobeen Dining Hall will still serve hot cookies and Talib Kweli will keep making good rap music. Like former Kweli collaborator Kendrick Lamar raps, “We gon’ be alright!”

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About the Writer
Brendan Attey, Opinions Columnist

Brendan Attey is a senior from Portland, OR. He is an opinions columnist. He is majoring in digital media and minoring in marketing. In his free time he loves stand-up comedy, hip-hop music, and NFL football.

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