On May 18th, Talib Kweli & DJ Hi-Tek, known as ‘Reflection Eternal,’ released their new album, Revolutions Per Minute. Though they released a mixtape called The RE:Union in December 2009, this is their first colloboration in almost 10 years (their first album, Train of Thought was released in 2000). In other words, it has been way too long.
Reflection Eternal is performing this evening at Amoeba in the Haight and at The Fillmore. I am excited to have the opportunity to attend one of the performances, and will report on my experience later this week. Until then, I wanted to leave you with some of the new music videos from the new album.
The first song is called ‘Midnight Hour’ and features British songstress, Estelle. I’ve been following Estelle’s career before she left London Town, but I’m not a big fan of this song. It’s catchy and fun, but to be honest, I’ve had enough of the 50s girl-group sound. However, I do understand the purpose of this song on the album. It’s been kissed with just enough bubblegum flavor to make Reflection Eternal’s usual raw, ‘conscious’ sound appealing to a wider audience. I’m sure this will be the album’s first single.
The black and white video for “Strangers (Paranoid)” featuring Bun B, leaves out the fluff and sticks to what we love about Reflection Eternal– a political message that’s brought to you by a tight flow and rough beat. Don’t listen to this song without listening to the lyrics (for those who are not familiar with ‘Reflection Eternal’– Homeboy who is standing with Talib Kweli and not saying anything is DJ Hi-Tek. Consider him the conductor of the music– if it wasn’t for his tight beats, there would be no symphony).
The last vide0 I am going to share is called “In this World.” As I said before, I’m pretty much over the manufactured sound of 50s girl groups– it was fun when Amy Winehouse encouraged its revival, but it’s been overdone. What I can’t get enough of, however, is a sampled soulful beat interlaced with a bold Hip Hop bass, and “In this World,” Hi-Tek creates the perfect marriage between these two sounds. Lyrically, this song addresses the continued struggle that certain communities face when it comes to poverty and survival. Kweli’s signature rhythmic flow is colloborated with a sampled chorus, thus highlighting that the struggles he is addressing is only a reverberation of past struggles within communitites of color. Something else I really appreciate about this video is the way it highlights DJ Hi-Tek at work. People often forget that Hip Hop began with a DJ (not the rapper) sampling classics, and making them into a bass-driven song, and like any other good video, this music video brings us something fresh while reminding us of Hip Hop’s rich beginnings.