October 17, 2021

Reflection Eternal "Train of Thought" (October 17, 2000)

Anyone familiar with Talib Kweli's impressive raps with Mos Def on the 1998 Black Star album might consider taking a deep breath before facing this semi-solo project. Like so many others in the fertile hip-hop underground, Black Star put words with a stark seriousness, measuring their flow and message with such minute precision it was no wonder they kept the beats solid but simple. It focused your attention on their small corner of the street. But, as Kweli says, he's not out for the street now, but for all the folks in it. From the Nelson Mandela impersonator who kicks things off by announcing that he always listen to Kweli "whenever I'm in Africa chilling out," to the heartrending closing tribute "For Women," this tremendously ambitious album consistently balances serious depth with serious cheekiness. Moreover, DJ Hi-Tek earns his equal billing with beats both rough and lush that bust Kweli out of the underground and into hip-hop's center stage. Not too long ago, that center was a no-man's land, but now Kweli joins De La Soul, Blackalicious, LL Cool J, Common, Jurassic-5 and all the others who have made 2000 the year the fellas got their groove back. Together, they'll help us all learn to exhale. - CMJ New Music Monthly (12/00). Revisit below...

Promo sticker and album review in CMJ (December, 2000)