Two Talib Kweli interviews that's worth the read:
In an interview you did just recently with PopMatters you said "the perception of hip hop is at an all-time low" but in my opinion there are many artists like Kanye [West], Ghostface Killah, OutKast, Common, yourself and even Lil Wayne who seem to have captured the attention of the most respected critics of music as a whole, not just hip hop. I don't remember seeing something like this in hip hop 10 years ago. Please explain that statement for me.
What I meant by that statement was the perception of music outside of the critics and outside of the intellectual circles. Music critics are great and like I said have been great to me. They do have influence on the buyers of music, but just a small percentage of buyers. I feel like when hip hop is being talked about outside of intelligent circles it isn’t given the respect it deserves. I have heard a lot of people compare hip hop to the hair bands of the 80s. You know heavy on the image but the substance isn’t there. When I was on MTV doing Made I was surprised by the kid Colin's idea of what he thought hip hop was. His perception of hip hop was ignorant. I know he isn't the only one who thinks that way about hip hop. Because of this perception, I feel like those outside of hip hop automatically dismiss it and dismiss us as artists.
What can hip hop do to improve its perception?
Let me start answering that one by saying I am not worried about the future of hip hop. I don’t want people thinking I believe we are doomed. But I will say one way we can improve ourselves is by simply making the best music we can make. With most African-American art forms, this music is not done for the sake of art it’s created as a necessity. We can make music so we can eat, so we have a roof to live under. Soulja Boy made "Crank That" as a necessity. What we should try to do is respect the art. I think we are caught up in the consumerism of our music right now, caught up in record sales and what we need to do to increase our numbers. To a degree you definitely need to be aware of the consumer and the dollar signs involved with the music. But it cant just be like we’re just doing anything just to make some money and get on TV.
From Detroit Free Press (via The Rap Up):
Q: A lot of your lyrics have a political consciousness. However, you've been pretty forward about not voting in elections because the system is broke and you typically don't believe in any candidates. Has Barack Obama changed your mind or is it politics as usual?
A: Obama is very inspiring. Certainly I am considering whether or not I am going to vote for him, which is a big step for me. When I was younger, I might have voted for Bill Clinton in his first election, but haven't since. There is still a long time to go before Obama even gets nominated; we just have to see what is going to happen. But I'd be lying if I said he wasn't impressive. I still feel the same way I do about voting, but I have never seen anyone like Barack Obama before. I'm equally impressed with Hillary Clinton as a person, but she to me is definitely part of the system. She doesn't inspire me the same way he does, you know?
Talib Kweli -- "Country Cousins" (featuring UGK) [MP3 Audio]