Record Label: Rawkus
For one of New York's most notable "underground" rappers, Talib Kweli has been involved in some pretty high-profile endeavors, like the 1998 Black Star album that topped countless hip-hop polls, and his collaborations with Hi-Tek. However, it's on his own that Kweli can really focus on his vision and direction. Musically, TK is as eclectic as ever here; the manifesto "Rush" features hard-rock guitar riffing; "Where Do We Go" is a gentle, melodic track driven by sparkling piano and poignant strings. Along the way, Quality incorporates samples of everyone from Nina Simone to Chuck Mangione. Lyrically, Kweli is as positive and creative as ever, boldly continuing to provide an effective contrast to the downcast, violent themes so prevalent in hip-hop. As in all his other work, the message is ostensibly simple--wake up and look around you--but as any good lyricist (a category in which Kweli certainly belongs) must know, the devil is in the details. And it's those details that put some powerful flesh on this album's bones.