WNYC’s Soundcheck presented Brooklyn-based rapper Talib Kweli live in The Greene Space on April 24. Kweli previewed new music from his fifth album, Prisoner of Conscious, coming out this May.
Host John Schaefer asked Kweli about the album’s title and the term “conscious hip hop.” The title, Kweli said, doesn’t refer to his own sense of confinement, but to people’s perception of him as an artist.
“When I first started, you just did hip hop,” Kweli said. “It wasn’t like, okay De La Soul, that’s conscious rap and N.W.A is gangster rap. It was like, this is just hip hop. …People who are very passionate about music like to break music down into sub genres.”
On his new album, he challenged himself to go more upbeat and focus on the musicality. “I can’t lose focus of my job as an entertainer by making my stuff overtly conscious,” Kweli said. “It has to sound good and feel good first.”