- City Playgrounds
- Back Again feat. Res
- Strangers feat. Bun B
- In This World
- Got Work
- Midnight Hour feat. Estelle
- Lifting Off
- In The Red
- Black Gold Intro
- Ballad of the Black Gold
- Just Begun feat. Jay Electronica, J. Cole and Mos Def
- Long Hot Summer
- Get Loose feat. Chester French
- So Good
- Ends feat. Bilal
Talib Kweli and DJ Hi-Tek come together to give hip hop fans another album in 10 years since Train of Thought back in 2000. They have been working together on various songs during that period but fans have been patiently waiting for another album. And so when news broke that Revolutions Per Minute was going to be released, I was excited.
But that excitement came with skepticism. I was worried that Reflection Eternal would try too hard to replicate their previous album. But once I began listening, I realized RPM is different. Reflection Eternal has matured both as people and musically. The only thing these two albums have in common: quality music.
Kweli has been criticized for syllable stuffing his verses and pushing his breath control but time does good things. On RPM, his cadence is much tighter. He isn’t pushing it here. He is matching the beats with the appropriate number of words on songs such as Strangers (Paranoid) and Back Again. Another criticism for Kweli has been he gets too preachy about social topics. RPM does have social commentary from Kweli on songs such as Ballad Of The Black Gold but Kweli doesn’t drive the commentary down your throat. He walks the fine line with entertainment and preaching. Midnight Hour proves this point.
But Reflection Eternal is DJ and MC combo. Kweli’s verses are as sharp as he has ever been but what made this duo work was both the verses and the production. Hi-Tek strikes a balance on RPM by giving Kweli just enough elements on the songs to work on. He finally uses that Jay-Z line on Moment of Clarity from The Black Album and uses it to great effect on In This World. “If skills sold, truth be told I’d probably be/lyrically Talib Kweli” On the previously mentioned Strangers (Paranoid) featuring Bun B, Hi-Tek flips Redemption (Theme from Rocky II) to where its unnoticable. (I didn’t even know that was sampled until I heard Hi-Tek mention it in an interview and read it in the liner notes of the album booklet.)
The musical chemistry between Kweli and Hi-Tek is undeniable. Kweli arguably sounds the most comfortable on Hi-Tek production. And having guest features that push Kweli to compete just like on Just Begun featuring Jay Electronica, J. Cole and Mos Def only heightens the quality of music here. From front to back, this album is filled with variety. Some songs have me nodding my head, some songs had me dancing, some songs had me listening attentively.
Reflection Eternal stuck lighting on Train of Thought. And they do the same again on RPM. Soulful, jazzy and eclectic production by Hi-Tek paired with the right amount of commentary and straight entertaining verses from Kweli prove that Reflection Eternal still have the ability to make quality music. Let’s hope that it isn’t another 10 years for Reflection Eternal to release another album.