Talib Kweli

When rappers who influence other rappers are discussed, there is one name that seems to rise to the surface every time. And while no one is more important than his or her predecessors, since his 1995 introduction to the industry, Talib Kweli has put his lyrical style into the proverbial “game of rap.”

Jay-Z even recited on his “Black Album” hit “Moment of Clarity,” “If skills sold / Truth be told / I'd probably be / Lyrically/ Talib Kweli.”

In fact, Talib Kweli is not just an easy name to rhyme, he is one of the most lyrically gifted, socially conscious and politically insightful rappers in the industry.

The Brooklyn-based rapper gained attention alongside Mos Def as one half of the east coast hip hop duo Black Star, as they are called collectively. Since then, he has been in demand around the globe, and on Sunday night you can see him live at the Belly Up.

Kweli’s political past is only part of the picture. His emphasis of activism lies on topics of racial stereotypes and police brutality; he claims he would direct his energy toward the prison industrial complex if money was not an issue. Kweli believes politics to be an illusion and personally refuses to vote.

His work in the music industry limits his activism in a way, but it’s hard to consider that a hardship — one of the world’s best rappers has something significant to say.

“My music has been associated with those types of causes, with positivity, spirituality, intelligence and being thought-provoking and such,” Kweli says on his website. “I think sometimes people get caught up in that part of me as an artist and don’t necessarily understand the musicality or fully appreciate the music and the entertainment value behind what I do. I tried to stretch my wings a little bit and bring something that was less beholden to the world of hip-hop and more existing in the world in general.”

Through the years, Kweli’s career has evolved, but he has always demanded attention and shown skill while rhyming over virtually every type of beat. His newer material has involved more collaboration and more rock, which is generally the case for rap stars.

Kweli is in a position where musicians coming up in the rap game enjoy and are interested in his music and influence. As an icon in the rap world, Kweli wants to create new music that can support the artist he has become.

Most of all, Talib Kweli wants to create music. He is not slowing down and has put out five albums since 2011. He is cognizant of the fact that he is world renown and in a place far beyond where he began, but he doesn’t want to dismiss what he has done in the past.

Even beyond his own artistic triumph, Talib Kweli embodies a healthy creative vision. With more than two decades worth of material, Talib Kweli stands as one of the most capable and accomplished rappers.

Not that John Zelazny wants you to get drunk, but that is a very fine Chardonnay that you are not drinking. He appreciates your comments at zelazny@aspendailynews.com.