Talib Kweli & Hi-Tek Are Reflection Eternal: Revolutions Per Minute

RIYL: Common, Mos Def, Erykah Badu

It’s been a decade since Talib Kweli and Hi-Tek released their first album as Reflection Eternal. Following that album, Train of Thought (a critical and commercial success), the former has maintained his position as a darling of the hip-hop underground, releasing several albums that cemented his status as a lyrical genius. The latter has branched out into more commercial waters, providing beats for the likes of 50 Cent and the Game. The two have worked together sporadically in the last decade, but they’ve finally returned for a full-album collaboration with Revolutions Per Minute.

On this long-awaited effort, the Brooklyn MC and the Cincinnati DJ pretty much keep it the same as it ever was, with solid rhymes over soulful production. Kweli remains an amazingly gifted and literate rhymer, whether the subject matter is political (“Ballad of the Black Gold” could not be more timely) sensual (“Long Hot Summer”), or just plain ol‘ hip-hop braggadocio, as evidenced by the all-star posse cut “Just Begun.” As on the first Reflection Eternal album, Hi-Tek’s production is solid but unspectacular. Kweli’s worked with better producers (how dope would a Kweli/Kanye collaboration album be?), but he and Hi-Tek have a chemistry that keeps Revolutions fairly enjoyable. While the forays into crossover territory (featuring the likes of R&B songstress Estelle and hipster-pop duo Chester French) should probably be avoided, fans who’ve waited patiently for this album to surface will be pretty satisfied (and totally not surprised) with what they hear. (Blacksmith/Warner Bros. Records 2010)

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