"Prisoner of Conscious; Photo:N/A"In his sixth studio album Talib Kweli has finally broken free of his arrested development. For years he’s teetered in between the underground and mainstream. too lyrical for the pop light and too soft-spoken for the gritty underground. What’s remained consistent however, is his lyrical prowess. He’s finally settling into his own. Prisoner of Conscious, a title that aptly describes the limbo he’s been stuck in, holds true to who he’s always been – a talented lyricist with a taste for revolution. At times it can wear heavy, just a little too reliant on the “good fight,” but he manages to spread the message evenly throughout. Given his newfound confidence here are five examples of how Talib, after all these years, is primed for a resurgence.

Turnt Up

Turnt Up; Photo:N/A

Only Talib can turn a song called “Turnt Up” into a slow, two stepper’s joint. It’s that same cheeky style that he’s always embraced, the type that”ll bring a bangin’ party down to an even simmer. The easy going vibe shouldn’t fool you though he still injects the beat with some heady wordplay, calling out the industry for feeding consumers garbage rap: [LISTEN]

I’m from Brooklyn where the heaters are the size of two-liters
I ain’t askin’ someone to follow, I’m looking for new leaders
It’s hard not consuming all the bullshit they feed us
Intravenous like a chord to the womb from a fetus

Hold It Now

Hold It Now; Photo:N/A

In just a few attempts Talib Kweli has found more success with ‘Oh No‘ than he did with Madlib (Oh No’s brother whom Talib collaborated with on Liberation). Call it birds of the same feather or perhaps synergy, but Oh No seems to understand that Talib should ease up a bit to embrace a different narrative style. This one’s much more meticulously paced than others, but holds enough ground to allow Talib to comfortably declare his role as rap’s messiah:

Got a buzz like I’m Georgia Tech
They still cheerin like I’m all that’s left
The air is toxic where you draw your breath
Resurrect the music I’m snatchin’ it from the claws of death

Ready Set Go

Ready Set Go; Photo:N/A

Part of Talib will always be stuck in the 90s. And why not it’s where he found his groove and where he’ll continue to evolve. “Ready Set Go” is the classic pairing of a lyrical juggernaut and R&B starlet – Melanie Fiona – and it compliments Talib’s style to a tee. He sounds more poised than he has in years, and although the idea of him being a rap clairvoyant is a little worn out it still sounds tasteful and eloquent coming from Kweli: [LISTEN]

On your mark get set when I start to jet look how far I get
I’m not only an artist they say, one is the loneliest number but still regardless second best don’t exist it’s a little oxymoronic
What if I listened to haters who never bothered hittin’ high water marks cause the markets flooded with garbage

Delicate Flowers

Delicate Flowers; Photo:N/A

The great thing about Kweli is that he’s incredibly down to earth, taking ownership in the face of extraneous circumstances. It’s an all-out confessional really, laying his indiscretions out there for the world to consume, but he takes it a step further by directing the conversation to one woman in particular. He doesn’t want to lie so he comes clean with her. That type of courage and honesty in rap music is rare. Especially when you go as far as revealing pet names:

My indiscretions is reeking of deep betrayal
The beetles are like horses, it’s hard to keep them stable
She believe me the way Michael believe in Fredo
But I need her she the proof of my soul my sweet potato

Favela Love

Upper Echelon; Photo:N/AGrowing up in a house of academics Talib Kweli was pretty much preordained to be a highly conscious individual. So much so it’s not a surprise that he’s a fan of all different types of music including Brazilian Soul. Seu Jorge was a big risk. He’s a larger than life voice that can consume a song, but like the great communicator he is Talib forgoes the spotlight for a more even exchange of artistry – a playful landscape for both Jorge and Talib to whisper sweet nothings:

Her body flyer than a jet pilot
With a smile and them eyes like wet violets
They flutter by like the wings of a butterfly
Keep it tight, Eva Mendes and them other guys, got me in another zone