Photo Chic gives it 4 out of 5 sneaks
This is my “first listen” review. It goes through my thoughts the first time hearing the full album. My opinions may change as I continue to listen, but I promise you if my thoughts turn negative, I will let you know. I highly doubt it though. As I listen to the album now as I write this intro, I’m feeling it more already.
“After the Rain” was a nice entry into the CD. I was vibing off of the old school feel of the music, but at the same time wondering “what the hell?” It might have been the intention and it worked. “My house shoes gonna be heelys.” Words to live by while getting high.
“Gutter Rainbows” title track is great! The beat with the bongo drums goes hard. Talib introduces you to this term in true Kweli fashion. Lyricism and realism at it’s best.
“So Low” is the heavy hitter track of the album. Heavy hitter to me is the track that makes you stop listening to the rest of the album and keep listening to that particular song over and over again. Not every album has a heavy hitter and some albums have more than one. Upon first listen, I knew this was that track, but had to force myself not to repeat it and continue on with my first listen.
“Palookas” features Sean Price and has that “gutter” feel. Raw hip hop. The cocky, arrogant, bragging rights track. It’s alright, but the placement of it coming after “So Low” makes me want to skip it. You can’t fully appreciate a song like this on first listen when it comes after a song as good as “So Low” is. I know me though, and I’m sure I’ll end up digging it more after the newness of the album wears off.
“Mr. International” brings me back to vibing thanks to the sultry voice of Nigel Hill. I really like this track. It just makes you feel good. “24/7 love ain’t that rough, when your career is your passion, no that ain’t enough!” This line sticks out to me because I hate rappers who complain about their lives and how much they work. Kweli reminds us of the privileges you have when you get to do what you love everyday.
“I’m on One” brings us back to the gutter and as I listen to the album, I’m starting to understand. You have gutter tracks and you have rainbow tracks and we alternate between these throughout the album. Not sure if that was the original intention, but that’s how I see it. I like this gutter track more than “Palookas.” No desire to skip it. It goes hard.
“Wait for You” features Kendra Ross and brings us back to the rainbow again. This reminds me of a smooth jazz track. Kendra Ross was a perfect addition to the hook. I’m feeling this song as well. Kweli is right, if you keep the good music coming they will wait for you. At least I will.
“Ain’t Waiting” featuring Outasight is a real track. I want to play it for some of the girls and fellas that I know because they waste too much of their time waiting on the opposite sex. It speaks volumes.
Of course, I had previously heard “Cold Rain.” It was already in heavy rotation on several of my iTunes’ playlists. Another heavy hitter song. I love it.
“Friends & Family” is real talk. Kweli takes us on a journey through his career and the people he loves and admires. I love this track. Rainbow song for sure and it’ll keep your head bobbing.
“Tater Tot” takes us back to the gutter. This song is powerful. The title will throw you off, but this song will bring a feeling of doom over you as Kweli demonstrates his skilled, story-telling capabilities. A short track, but certainly not sweet.
“How you Love Me” featuring Blaq Toven is a classic Kweli love song, like “Never Been in Love” off of Beautiful Struggle. The rainbow is back. I had already heard this song in advance and I loved it. Still do and it fits in well coming after “Tater Tot,” bringing the audience back to a happy mood.
“Uh Oh” featuring Jean Grae is great. I’m biased immediately because I love Jean Grae (so you might want to ignore me on this piece). Kweli and Grae always make beautiful music together. This one is gutter right down to the beat, but listen and learn.
“Self Savior” featuring Chace Infinite...MESSAGE!!! I love the instrumentals here and the lyrics are deep. How can you not appreciate this song? A great way to end the album.
The iTunes bonus CD includes a live version of “How you Love Me” and “Go Now” featuring Jean Grae and Iron Solomon. I could have done without the live performance audio, because the album without is enough. It would have been nice to at least have some videos as a bonus. “Go Now” is really a bonus though. Very nice track.
Congrats to Kweli on his first truley independent, solo album. I think it’s great, but Talib Kweli never really disappoints me anyway. The back and forth between gutter and rainbow tracks brings a nice balance to the audience. Couples can listen to this album in harmony. There’s something for the fellas and something the ladies will appreciate (especially those that aren’t into hip hop). This album also shows that you can make good music without autotune (didn’t hear it once!). Smooth instrumentals, banging beats and true lyricism make Gutter Rainbows a damn good album in my humble opinion. Like fine wine, I’m sure this will get better with age, but for now, that was my “first listen.”
Mixtape Chic gives it 4 out of 5 sneaks
Mixtape Chic gives it 4 out of 5 sneaks
As a reformed mainstream music lover, I can assure you that my love for real music these days is beyond real. Talib Kweli is one of the best lyricists known these days and is on my list of real artists. When I say real, I mean that his music has meaning and he’s not just talking about cars, clothes and hoes (excuse my language). This is my unbiased opinion of Talib’s newest project Gutter Rainbows.
The title itself speaks to me as a symbol of the type of music that he makes on the regular. Talib’s lyrics are ‘gutter’. Of course, some of the beats that he uses are ‘gutter’ as well but he can rhyme over ‘rainbow’ beats too. I like the fact that he did both on this album. From the smooth groove of ‘How You Love Me’ to ‘Palookas’, which makes me feel like Kweli is about to hurt somebody; literally and figuratively.
‘How You Love Me’ is my favorite track off of the album. It’s the one song hit me in the face with its music and lyrics. I’ll admit I am a sucker for love songs but this is about love. It’s about real life situations. I see it every day; and if I don’t see it, I hear about it. The song is interesting because the chorus is talking about how much ‘he’ thinks about the love they have and how great it really is:
“I can’t seem to think straight. When I think about how you love me. Every day is like a holiday. Something like Christmas Eve. My worst day is carefree. When I think about how you love me.”
The lyrics are more dramatic and the other side of relationships. There are many who could benefit from hearing this song.
‘I’m On One’ took me back with its old school beat. When I heard I felt like walking down the street blasting it from a boombox…if only I had one. This song is true Talib. No one can match his lyrical concepts. “Come on son!” Talib wants you to get it together right about…..NOW! He holds no punches. “Ain’t no patience for the wack MC. This ain’t World Star homie. This ain’t Vlad TV” Tell em’!!! This is a public service announcement…think about it.
Overall, it was an album I can listen to more and more. Each time I listen to it, I expect to hear something new. I have listened to it twice…so far my expectations are on point. This album proves that you need more than the music to make a track. The lyrics have to be on point and I think Talib knows and believes that. I would love to hear this album acapella.
Network Chic gives it 4 out of 5 sneaks
I’m just going to give you my absolute favorites, but as for Gutter Rainbows as a whole -- this line from the track, Self Savior, says it all, “I give a little more than your metaphors and wack similes.” Talib’s seamless narration through parts of his life, thoughts and today’s affairs was shared only as Talib can do. GR brought forth raw emotions from me that I didn’t even know I was feeling at the time.
My favorite track is the album’s title track, Gutter Rainbows. “Trapped on the corner with the oil spillin, mixin w/ the dirt and the water collecting in the gutter until the color is brilliant, I paint pictures so legendary…” This line spoke volumes to me because even at it’s most basic understanding, Talib’s reminding you that anything can be made into what you want it.
So Low was another favorite on GR. It was sinfully real and explored the struggle of how people feel about their success and the contradiction that society places on successful people and their need to “keep it real.” As Talib said, I got my own demons, what am I suppose to do with yours?” This song will stay in rotation.
Another favorite on GR is Self Savior. This song is calculating, confident and a great exhibition of his lyricism. Also, Tater Tot is deep and raw. It touches on societal abnormalities in how we place our own inequities on those who serve their beliefs whether through internal/external peace and war.
All in all, Gutter Rainbows was a brilliantly told reflection of Talib’s talent and foothold in Hip Hop. “Turn it up now!”