REVIEW: Styles P and Talib Kweli Drop “The Seven” For New York Hip-Hop


(AllHipHop Reviews) We’ve seen a lot of good music from young dudes this year, but it’s always refreshing to hear legends stepping back up to the mic — especially when they’re collabing.

Talib Kweli and Styles P’s The Seven may have been overshadowed by DAMN, but their new album The Seven is a much-needed bright spot in New York hip-hop.

Styles and Talib have been in the game for a combined four decades, so we know what to expect from them for the most part. But even so, I was really excited to see them working together. I knew they would mesh well, but I was more eager to see what they brought out of each other and where they took the album.

This album didn’t disappoint. It’s a perfect combination of social commentary and hard bars, something Ghost and Kweli have absolutely mastered.

Kweli wastes no time setting the tone on The Seven. The first words we hear from him on “Poets & Gangstas,” the project’s opening track, are “Welcome to the conscious of the nation on hard beats,” a perfect descriptor for what he and Styles have created. This theme is carried on throughout the project as the veteran spitters trade vicious bars over punchy beats, touching on some of the social issues that plague the world today. I was happy to hear this theme remain consistent throughout; a large part of Talib Kweli’s appeal to me is the fact that he uses his lyrical ability as a tool to speak out against injustices and educate listeners.

I usually prefer shorter projects to have no features, but the features on The Seven were chosen well and all help to improve the respective songs. The LOX have a reunion on “Nine Point Five” a hard-hitting track that also features Brazilian-American rapper and Javotti signee NIKO IS provides a spark on the hook. Ghost and Kweli also enlist Rapsody, Common, Chris Rivers and Vic Orena, the latter two handling hooks on dope tracks.

It’s hard to pick favorites from an album filled with great songs, but there were two that stood out to me:

“Teleprompters” — Whoever made this beat knew exactly what they were doing. The drums perfectly underline dope verses from Kweli, Ghost and Common, and Vic Orena lays down a dope hook to round out this great track.

“Last Ones” — The first and last song often end up being two of the best on the album, and this is no exception. The beat is perfect for these two, and the 5-minute runtime leaves space for two verses from both spitters. The result is a hard-hitting, wordplay-filled track to finish the album and leave the listener wanting more.

At a time when the majority of artists follow trends and those trends are so far from hip-hop’s roots, these two New York legends stayed true to their beginnings and still made a great album.

I figured I’d enjoy this before I listened to it, but I didn’t know what direction they’d take it in. After a few listens, I think The Seven was a smart choice both conceptually and musically. When you think of Talib Kweli and Styles P, you think of masterfully crafted, socially conscious bars over New York beats, and that’s exactly what you get here. In an often dark world where great minds are overshadowed by pandering, Talib Kweli and Styles P shine brightly.