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  Listen Up! 12/4/02 Listen Up!

Wednesday, Dec. 4

Talib Kweli , “Quality,” Rawkus Records. You don’t need 65 minutes to make a great record, and there is some merely good stuff that could have been cut to take this down to about 40 minutes. But, there is 40 minutes of excellence for sure. There is the usual hip-hop mélange of guest stars ( Bilal, Mos Def, Black Thought, Pharoahe Monch, Res, to name the ones I’ve actually heard of) and lots of producers. The beats and backing tracks are rich and enticing, especially on the really aggressive cuts. Kweli raps in all sorts of moods, angry, hungry, sexy, relaxed. That’s probably the best thing he’s got going for him, a willingness to reveal multiple aspects of his personality.

Parliament, “First Thangs,” HDH Records. The early Parliament records were less funky, and way more psychedelic. Kinda like Rare Earth fused with Iron Butterfly or something. Only way, way better than that implies. You really had no idea what they were gonna do next. This CD opens a lot of possible doors, some of which led to the peculiar funky rooms of later efforts, and some of which revealed a closet that would soon be closed.

--Steve Pick



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