India Arie
Blessid Union of Souls
Tracy Chapman
Ani Difranco
Fisk Univ. Jubilee Singers
Gil Scott Heron
Ice Cube
Mason Jennings
Talib Kweli
Bob Marley
Curtis Mayfield
Prussian Blue
Public Enemy
Jill Scott
Tupac Shakur
The Band
Kanye West


8 Mile
A Time to Kill
American History X
Bend It Like Beckham
Boys Don't Cry
Gentleman's Agreement
G.I. Jane
The Green Mile
Guess Who
Hotel Rwanda
I Am Sam
Malcolm X
Mi Familia
Mississippi Burning
Out of the Ashes
Pleasantville (1)
Pleasantville (2)
Real Women Have Curves
Schindler's List
Something New
The Birth of a Nation
The Pianist
To Kill a Mockingbird


Talib Kweli

Born Talib Kweli Greene in Brooklyn, New York, Talib’s name is an Arabic translation meaning “student of truth.” He has certainly lived up to this title as an MC. Kweli has been an avid reader and talented writer since he was young, writing rhymes as early as junior high. Friends with rapper Mos Def, he gained access to the hip-hop scene in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1994. Here he met and began working with Tony “DJ Hi-Tek” Cottrell. Hi-Tek was producer for the group Mood and invited Kweli to feature on their album Doom. 

Through these partnerships, Kweli succeeded in founding the Nkiru Center for Education and joined the 1990s hip-hop revival with the group Black Star. He also produced the maxi-single Hip Hop for Respect with well-known collaborators to protest the wrongful murder of Amadou Diallo, an unarmed African immigrant who was gunned down by NYC police in 1999. 

Kweli went solo with his album Quality in 2000. He continued to gain recognition as an acclaimed rapper by collaborating with and earning mentions from rappers Jay-Z and Kanye West. In Fall 2004, Kweli released his best album yet, Beautiful Struggle. This album addresses many issues related to oppression including the treatment of AIDS orphans and life in the ‘hood. According to Kweli, "As a resource, hip-hop has been greater than any music we have. . . . The possibilities for what we can do in our communities, for people's self esteem or their economic situation is what is so exciting. It's beautiful that I can use this resource, sell records and still just be Talib Kweli" (

Black Girl Pain is one great example of the socially-aware lyrics written by Kweli. The song is an ode to all black women. It encourages them to rise above society’s negative messages about beauty and to stand strong, black, and proud: 

                   They just know the name they don't know the pain
                   So please hold your heads up high
                   Don't be ashamed of yourself know I
                   Will carry it forth ‘til the day I die
                   They just know the name they don't know the pain black girl
                   (© 2004 Rawkus Records; From:

Although Kweli may not want to be known as a “political” rapper, his intelligent and inspirational lyrics touch many lives. I recommend this album to anyone with an ear open to really hear the messages he sends.  


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