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Talib KweliBirth Name: Talib Kweli Greene
Date of Birth (location): October 3, 1975 New York, USA.
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Talib Kweli (born Talib Kweli Greene in Brooklyn, NY on October 3, 1975) is an American rapper from Brooklyn, New York. He is one of the most prominent rappers in underground hip-hop, and is frequently critically acclaimed, despite not having significant commercial success. His name in Arabic, means "student of truth". His parents were both college professors: his mother an English professor, his father a sociology professor. As a youth, he was drawn to Afrocentric rappers, such as De La Soul and other members of the Native Tongues Posse and soon began recording with producer Hi-Tek and rapper Mos Def whom he had known since the two attended high school together.

Talib started his rap career in a rap group called Mood with DJ Hi-Tek as the group's producer and some unknown rappers back in Cincinnati. They had problems dealing with record labels and they never got a major distribution and promotion for their only effort - an album called Doom.

With Mos Def (together the pair were known as Black Star), Kweli achieved some mainstream success with the eponymously titled album Black Star (1998). While Mos Def went on to a successful solo career, Kweli released the Hi Tek-produced Train of Thought in 2000. He has since released a critically acclaimed solo debut, Quality, in 2002, which received some mainstream attention thanks to the Kanye West-produced single "Get By." In 2004, Kweli released his second solo album, The Beautiful Struggle, which features production more akin to commercial rap, while Kweli's lyrics retain their powerful social-political content. Kweli has created his own record label, Blacksmith Records and has recently signed acclaimed female rapper Jean Grae, with rumors continuing to grow that underground veteran MF DOOM is the next artist to be picked up (Kweli also appeared on the MF DOOM/Danger Mouse collaboration The Mouse and the Mask, on the song "Old School"). He left Geffen Records and has signed with the powerful Warner Music Group.

Ever since emerging as a member of Black Star in the late 1990s, Talib Kweli is one of the few artists making commercially viable music that matters. The Brooklyn bred rapper's hard-hitting music has been able to educate and entertain simultaneously. So it is no wonder that at the peak of their fame, both Jay-Z and 50 Cent named Talib Kweli as one of their favorite rappers.

He has since broken through slightly more towards the mainstream, thanks in large part to an appearance on MTV's Wild'n Out, as well as several appearances on the comedy show Chappelle's Show with long-time collaborator Mos Def; this is due to a friendship between the host and creator of the show, comedian Dave Chappelle and the rapper. He also had a guest spot on friend Kanye West's widely successful debut album The College Dropout on the track "Get 'Em High". West has produced some of Kweli's songs, including his biggest commercial hit "Get By". Kweli can be seen in a commercial for the NCAA's Big Ten Conference, rapping about the league's basketball teams. He also provided the voice of the protagonist in the graffiti-themed video game Marc Ecko's Getting Up: Contents Under Pressure, released in 2006.

With Ear Drum, his first album released on his own Blacksmith Music and his sixth album overall, Kweli has delivered his career-defining work, a polished collection showcasing his advanced lyricism and his penchant for picking music that resonates long after the song ends. "The image of the ear and of the drum are powerful enough by themselves, but when you put them together, it's an instrument that's in your body that helps you hear," he explains. "They're also two very simple, yet powerful words. I wanted to focus on finding a sound that makes you move, and that's where the word 'Ear Drum' popped in my head."

Now, after establishing himself as a rap visionary, Kweli along with long-time manager Corey Smyth launched Blacksmith Music. The pair signed an exclusive deal with Warner Bros. to market, promote, and distribute the music of Blacksmith artists. Following Kweli's release on Blacksmith/WBR there will be a new solo album from Jean Grae, the critically acclaimed South African-born female rapper who is among the most respected female rappers in the history of the genre. Rolling Stone called her "the best kept secret on New York's indie hip-hop scene," while XXL, Spin, Village Voice, URB and others have labeled her an artist to watch. Strong Arm Steady, a forthcoming Blacksmith/WBR release, is a super group whose members are platinum rapper and Pimp My Ride host Xzibit, Los Angeles underground star Phil The Agony, lyrical assassin Krondon and San Diego rap pioneer Mitchy Slick. Strong Arm Steady has been one of the few West Coast acts to build a rabid fanbase through mixtapes.

Kweli hopes Blacksmith will create a movement with Jean Grae and Strong Arm Steady, much as his own music has. "With Blacksmith, I want it to be a flag that everyone can wave," he says. "I want to be packing shows and I want people to feel like they were up on Jean Grae and Strong Arm Steady before anybody else was."

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