Talib Kweli & 9th Wonder Indie 500

Talib Kweli & 9th Wonder Indie 500
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Alt-rap stars abound on Indie 500, the new posse album curated by preeminent backpack rapper Talib Kweli and soundtracked by beloved underground producer 9th Wonder (aside from a few tracks helmed by other studio wizards). Aside from having that pair of heavyweight names adorn the cover, the LP also features indie hip-hop titans like Brother Ali, Planet Asia and Pharoahe Monch.
 
Despite that assortment of long-time vets, it's the rookies featured on Indie 500 who truly shine. On midway track "Life Ahead of Me," Kweli is practically upstaged by Rapsody, a relentlessly tenacious 27-year-old MC from 9th Wonder's own North Carolina who spits brilliant, concise head-turners like "My gender got them tender" over Wonder's reverb heavy funk synths.
 
The aptly named "King Shit" features Kweli affiliates NIKO IS and GQ expounding on all the fun to be earned with ambition, the former's course voice juxtaposing nicely with the gleaming keys and soaring strings of up-and-coming producer E. Jones' instrumental while the latter MC's smoother tone and silky lyricism provides a fine counterpoint. "Bangers," meanwhile, features complex rhymes of the prison industrial kind by academically inclined MC MK Asante, who spits: "Behind bars, super-maxin' minimals / Jump on a Nottz Raw track, wax spiritual." He's referring to the track's producer, Nottz, who is by no means a newbie, but has never gotten his due despite nearly two decades of hit making for Busta Rhymes, Snoop Dogg and others.
 
These and other unsung hip-hop heroes are given plenty of time to shine on Indie 500, an album that will hopefully help them finally get their long-overdue props. (Javotti Media)