Prisoner of Conscious is the 5th solo album by legendary lyricist, Talib Kweli. With a career that is approaching nearly 2 decades, Kweli is still one of the most talented and consistent emcees in the game. Though I wouldn’t say Prisoner Of Conscious is a perfect album, I pleasantly found it to be among the best records that have come out in recent times. In a nutshell, POC is a great display of tongue-twisting wordplay and colorful story telling over beautifully produced tracks.
There is a little something for everybody on this LP, and I have pretty much categorized the bulk of the album in 3 different sections:
Kweli the Champ. The emcee, though best known for his more socially aware angles, can get down with some cocky lyrics as well. Whether he is rolling out puns and punchlines with ease, or calling out new rappers in the game, Talib is never afraid to flex lyrical fury on a track. A couple of songs that fall into this category are “Hold It Now”, and “Upper Echelon”. Sampling Masta Ace’s banger “Born To Roll”, “Upper Echelon” is a synth-saturated song that boasts the line “real shit back, it’s a miracle/rap been laughable over the last year or two/reflected like a mirror through, who is the real living proof/I’m back with the classical shit, I pack lyrical substance”.
Kweli the Romantic. Rappers have emotions, too. Talib has a knack of including artful relationship-driven songs or flirty tunes on every one of his albums, and POC is no exception. “Delicate Flower” is a soulful track that takes you on a rocky ride through a strained relationship. “Outstanding” is a smooth Ryan Leslie collaboration which is a bit of a celebratory song praising his main lady. “Come Here” featuring Miguel is a sexy track that is laced with a yearning chorus and verses that are reminiscent of Kweli’s 2007 jam “Hot Thing”. With Miguel currently being r&b’s ‘it’ artist , I wouldn’t be surprised if “Come Here” exceeds the success of the emcee’s 2007 hit.
Kweli the Motivational Speaker. Whether you’re having a tough day or find yourself discouraged about achieving your goals or dreams, there is nothing like a good song to get you back on track. Take for example “Ready, Set, Go”, which employs Melanie Fiona’s lovely vocals. “Push Thru” is a star-studded song which features verses by Curren$y and Kendrick Lamar, and a mantra-like hook by Glen Reynolds that promises to “smash walls to get through.” The ultra relatable and highly humbling “It Only Gets Better” might have to be my favorite song off of Prisoner Of Conscious. This track is produced by J. Cole and the hook is adorned by Marsha Ambrosius’ beautiful voice. The song reminds you to keep your head up during tough situations, and to remember that you are still blessed, even in your struggles.
No matter what your mood, you can rest assured you’ll find something you’ll enjoy on Prisoner of Conscious. Talib Kweli definitely has added another solid album to his strong catalog of work and we will definitely keep an eye out for a possible tour. In the meantime, be sure you cop Prisoner Of Conscious on iTunes.