Talib Kweli, 'Gutter Rainbows' (Javotti Media/3D)

7
Gutter Rainbows
Critical Mass
Release Date: January 25, 2011
Label: Javotti Media/3D

by Mosi Reeves

Brooklyn rapper Talib Kweli has a talent for summing up ambitious concepts in powerfully concise phrases, whether it's 2004's The Beautiful Struggle or 2007's Eardrum. With the similarly evocative Gutter Rainbows, the self-described "prisoner of consciousness" distills stories of ghetto-shackled blues people and his decade-plus career ("Mr. International"), occasionally turning over the mic to guests like Sean Price and Jean Grae (who kills "Uh Oh" with a coolly ruthless verse). However, the production (from Ski Beatz, 88-Keys, others) adds florid, melodramatic choruses to jazzy boom-bap tracks, blunting the impact of Kweli's dogged street intellectualism.

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