Talib Kweli Greene (born October 3, 1975) is as well known for his contributions to hip-hop as he is for his social activism and political views. The Brooklyn born artist came to recognition first through his group, Black Star (alongside Mos Def), though Kweli’s story began years earlier. He made his official rap debut in 1996, with five guest appearances on Cincinnati group Mood’s album titled Doom. Upon returning to New York City, Black Star released their first and only album, Mos Def and Talib Kweli Are Black Star, in 1998. The Hi-Tek produced project is still continuously celebrated by critics and helped put Rawkus Records on the map in the ‘90s as the hub for quality underground rap releases. Kweli later made his official debut as a solo artist in 2002 with the release of Quality. The project featured production from Kanye West and DJ Quik, as well as an appearance from Dave Chappelle. Despite its critical acclaim, the project was met with lukewarm sales. Still, Kweli’s strong lyricism became his trademark, overshadowing the numbers on the board. However, his Kanye West-produced single “Get By” helped him garner some mainstream recognition, peaking at No. 77 on the Billboard Hot 100. Kweli returned the favor by appearing on Ye’s own successful debut album The College Dropout in 2004, as well as joining the Beastie Boys on tour that summer. His second solo album (and final release on Rawkus) The Beautiful Struggle debuted at No. 14 on the Billboard 200. With his solo career in music established, Kweli went on to collaborate with the likes of Pharrell Williams, Just Blaze, J Dilla, Madlib, Kendrick Lamar, 9th Wonder, Pete Rock, will.i.am, and more. Kweli also founded his own media powerhouse, Javotti Media in 2011. In 2017 he joined forces with Lox alum Styles P to release The Seven. His music career is footnoted with his strong activist spirit, often acting as a political pundit while taking to his social media accounts to re-enforce his strong views.

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