Published Aug 12, 2015One may expect an album titled Fuck The Money to have a thoroughly angry tone. However, Talib Kweli doesn't just sound furious on this new solo effort (which was made available for free on his website) — he also sounds downright ravenous, devouring each track with an insatiable enthusiasm and a wide palette of styles. On his latest LP, the veteran backpack rapper adopts an array of tones, tempos, rhyming patterns and even volume levels, elasticizing his voice more than ever before.
The gamut-running begins with opening track "Gratitude," on which, over a careening synth line, Kweli lowers his voice to a stage whisper while referencing the album's title and declaring it his new mantra. He then adopts an audible sneer for "Leslie Nope," until he sounds harder than a seasoned gangsta rapper, deftly matching the song's seething electro beat and prowling piano line. Midway track "Echoes," which features the reliably moving croon of soul virtuoso Miguel, finds Kweli spitting gently upbeat pep talk ciphers and tender lyrical odes to the lady he loves. Then he impresses all the more with "Baby Girl," taking on a sultry tone over leather-soft synths that are slick enough for a Maybach Music hit, a perfect backdrop for Kweli's underrated sex jam prowess.
As impressive as those eclectic instrumentals and vocal cadences are, Fuck The Money also delivers what Kweli fans have come to take for granted: loquacious lyrics. In fact, this LP boasts more elaborate lines than any of Kweli's studio efforts over the past decade. "Money Good" features some of his famed social commentary, and on the album's title track, Kweli packs even more powerfully succinct lyrical punches. The album's greatest lyrical feat is also one of the most hilariously clever and simultaneously gruesome lines in Kweli's career, as he references a Boston baseball legend on "Fall Back" by rapping: "No time for your hurt feelings / Blood is in the gutters / My socks like Curt Schilling's…"
Fuck The Money might just be Kweli's strongest album since the early 2000s, especially because he avoids the tepid production and bland vocal delivery that marred recent efforts like Gravitas and Prisoner of Conscious. He sounds rejuvenated, relentless and, for the first time in a long time, powerfully relevant. With Fuck The Money, Talib Kweli proves that his talents are priceless, and that it's lyrical investment that pays the biggest dividends. (Javotti Media)