Saturday, July 2, 2022

Talib Kweli: Black Star Reunite, Divorce Still Messy, Lyricist Lounge Celebrated at Apollo Theater: Watch/Exclusive

*Legendary rapper Talib Kweli and Lyricist Lounge CEO and founder Ant Marshall kick it with I Heart Radio/TV personality and EURweb Spotlight host Jazmyn Summers about new music, the historical significance of the lounge and the ongoing divorce between Talib and wifey DJ Eque.

The legendary conscious rappers that made up Black Star are reuniting after 24 years and dropping a new album on May 3 called “No Fear of Time.”

“It has approximately nine, about nine tracks,” Talib shares with EURweb Spotlight.

“The new album won’t be available on your DSPs. It won’t be available on Spotify. It won’t be available on Tidal, Apple Music, or iTunes. None of that. Yasiin (Bey) and I do a podcast with Dave Chappelle called “The Midnight Miracle.” That podcast can be found exclusively at Luminarypodcasts.com.  My podcast  “People’s Party” also debuts there first. But this is the first time it’s being done. There is no podcast site that has released an album so this is innovative.  We’re trying to make sure that we get value for our work and luminarypodcasts.com definitely values us for our work, but we’re also making sure that the fans get a quality experience.”

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Mos Def - Yasiin Bey
Yasiin Bey – Formerly known as Mos Def

Talib says the project, produced by producer/rapper Madlib (Snoop Dogg, JDilla), is also innovative by not releasing singles.

“In today’s singles-driven market, we are proud to say that this is an album and it’s just better for you to take it in as an album.  There’s not one song to me that represents the album better than the rest of the songs on the album. So I encourage people to subscribe to Luminarypodcasts.com You don’t just get the Black Star, but you get every single episode of Midnight Miracle with us and Dave Chappelle. You get every single episode of “People’s Party.” You get Russell Brand’s podcast, you get “Roxane the Gay Agenda.” You get “Guys We F****d” which is a great podcast. There are just so many great shows on Luminary podcasts.

How they were able to come together to produce an entire album after 24 years meant they had to focus, says Talib.

“This is my 17th album, this is just Yasiin Bey’s sixth or seventh album, and so I’m creating and producing at a faster rate than he is. That’s not bad or good,  it’s just different. But what I had to do is I had to really put myself back in the mentality of where I was before I got famous and there was nothing else in my life going on besides trying to get that Black Star album done. And so I really just had to sort of put my ego to the side. And you know, you get in this business, you get very productive. For the type of artist I am, I’m the sun in my universe.  I have to continue to score.”

Talib Kweli
Talib Kweli – Getty

It is real and it sounds arrogant, but it’s true,” Talib explains. “But if you’re not cognizant of it, you can sometimes just be spinning and spinning and feeding everybody and working and grinding. And you never get back to what really is the real reason you started to do this work.  Yasiin  I would say is a bit more intentional in his work. He’s not doing anything unless he feels it. I spent a lot of years working to feed my family, just working to do shows. We started recording the album before the pandemic, but the pandemic really accelerated this for me. The idea that all of this could end soon, you know. I can’t depend on any of this.  I was like, ‘you know what? Let me just go back to that mentality when I was working in a bookstore.  When the only thing I had in life to do was find Yasiin and record this album.’ I had to put the distractions away, running a label, being on social media,  having my family doing shows, and doing activist work. “All of it had to sort of take a backseat. And I had to just focus on Black Star.”Apollo Theater (marquee)Talib credits the birth of Black Star to Lyricist Lounge,  a historic and unique collaboration of hip hop artists in New York City.  Last week, the renowned Apollo Theater — a must-visit on any trip to New York – celebrated the Lounge’s  30th anniversary with a lit, sold-out show that reunited many of the original artists including Lost Boyz, Lords of the Underground, Kid Capri, KRS1, Grand Puba, CJ Smooth and many others hosted by Talib Kweli.

Ant Marshall is the CEO and founder of Lyricists Lounge and tells EURweb that a lot of people don’t fully understand the significance of Lyricist Lounge, a key part of hip hop history.

“We started thirty years ago, in 1991 in New York City, to provide a platform for unsigned artists, for up and coming artists way before the internet and social media, etc.,” he tells Jaz. “It was a way for actually us as dancers early on — myself and my partner — we were backup dancers for different groups at the time, and we just really wanted to kind of get ahead. We were kind of done with the dance and ready to step up and be upfront. So this was a way for us to also develop our lyrical skills. But we soon learned that there were people better at it than we were and we decided to really take a back step.  Now we have 30 years of history helping artists really get to the stage. And the next 30 is really about helping them to get to their community and get in front of their audience without any middlemen or any predatory deals.”

Ant Marshall CEO of Lyricist Lounge (Jaz Instagram)
Ant Marshall CEO of Lyricist Lounge with Jazmyn Summers (Jaz Instagram)

Talib adds: “Lyricist Lounge is one of the places where Black Star was incubated. I will go even as far to say if there was no Lyricist Lounge there would likely be no Black Star because Black Star was built on Yasiin Bey and I doing shows together. I had a single called “Fortified Live” and Hi-Tek produced it.  It wasn’t really until I got with the Hi Tek production that they really were able to understand my vision as a musician.  I had songs with Yasiin Bey, who was known as  Mos Def at the time. It gave them a reason to put me on stage. It gave me a reason to be on stage and then if I did shows, Yasiin Bey would show up.  If they booked Yasiin Bey for the Lyricist Lounge, I would show up. And so the Black Star album came from us doing shows together. 96, 97 98 and (19)98 the first album drops.”

Talib is well known for his consciousness and reflecting the struggle of African Americans through his music  In 2000, he and Yasiin organized the album “Hip Hop For Respect” about the killing of Amadou Diallo, who was murdered; shot 41 times by the police. Many artists like Dead Prez, Wu-Tang Clan, and Nas rapped about issues impacting Black folks.  How has that changed?

“I don’t think that’s ever going away,” Talib reflects. “But the time when I was on, there was more of a chance of the spotlight being shown on artists who were doing that type of work. We did a call for 41 emcees and we got way more than 41 emcees to represent the forty-one shots by police of Amadou Diallo. The reason we got way more than forty-one emcees to participate in the project is because of our connection to the Lyricist Lounge. We were all one big community. So when me and Yasiin Bey made that call, about 100 emcees came. Most of them are not famous. Most of them were just local emcees, people we knew who were in the circle. They were famous in our circle, but all of them, just about all of them, had touched that Lyricist Lounge stage. Nowadays I see that happening. I see my son’s generation, my son is an emcee, my daughter’s an emcee. I seen him doing the things that we were doing with or without the spotlight on them. So I think that those things are happening. But every once in a while, the mainstream shines a light on it. And I think we’re starting to see that now. . This is a generation of a lot of Hip-Hop fans now. If you notice it’s harder to market to them because they’re smarter.  You can’t fool them.”

Talib Kweli
Talib Kweli – Getty

“The consumer wants to be more conscious and curate their own playlist because they feel spoken down to by the corporate culture,” Talib says.  “Hip hop comes from marginalized people, comes from poor people. So from the beginning of hip hop, from the days when Busy Bee was spelling out his name with $100 bills and rappin’ about limos and stuff, hip hop has always celebrated materialism, right? And  I don’t judge that because I understand the root causes of it. But now we’re way more savvy. We understand because we understand the root causes of it. The people coming up now, they move away from that. My kids today, my sneakers is nicer than my kids and they be looking at me crazy. Like, why do you care so much about sneakers like they kicks be bummy and dirty looking? And they don’t even care. ”

Wayminute. So is Talib a sneakerhead?

I’m not a sneakerhead,” he laughs. “I’m just a rapper which is, I guess, the same thing in a lot of ways. I don’t know the names of the sneakers, but I have access to all the flyness even before it comes out.”

talib kweli
Talib Kweli on The Tonight Show’ (06-03-20)

Talib is still involved with a messy divorce from wifey DJ Eque who he married in 2009.  According to TMZ. Talib claims her argumentative behavior created an unhealthy and suffocating environment. And, Kweli says he allowed her to stay at one of his houses in L.A. and supported her financially for 5-plus years … “exceeding any legal obligation to avoid confrontation.” What’s more … Kweli says he never charged her rent. And, when he sold the house, he says he let her keep the profit — around $30k — hoping the money would help her to relocate.

One of the big sticking points is when is their date of separation.  Talib says they separated on October 20, 2015, after he moved out of the home they shared. DJ Eque’s claiming July 10, 2020 as the date of separation.  He thinks she’s trying to make it look like the marriage lasted longer to get more money and property from the divorce.

It was all supposed to be resolved in November but Talib tells Jaz it’s dragging on longer than he’d like.

“I got more divorce proceedings. Still. Still coming up. That should be fun.”

Unlike the allegations in the TMZ story, Talib says he has love for his former wife and that it really is old news.

Talib Kweli & DJ Eque - SPLIT1 (TMZ/Getty)
Talib Kweli & DJ Eque – (TMZ/Getty)

“Look D.J. Eque is a wonderful, wonderful human being that I was married to for quite some time,” he tells Jaz. “I haven’t seen the woman since 2015. And so this is old news for me, but the stature of our relationship became news last year. So for me, it’s like, this is this old stuff that that’s why I laughed but I hope it gets resolved soon.”

Check out the full fun convo in the video at the top. And please don’t forget to subscribe to Jaz’s YouTube channel.

Jazmyn Summers
Jazmyn Summers

Interview/article by Jazmyn Summers. Follow her @jaztalk1 on InstagramTwitterFacebook. Video editing by www.patrickhousefilms.com

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