78 Quotes of Talib Kweli About Hip-Hop

” You have to know when to be arrogant. You have to when to be humble. You have to know when to be hard and you have to know when to be soft. “
” There’s a lot of activism that doesn’t deal with empowerment, and you have to empower yourself in order to be relevant to any type of struggle. “
” That’s what hip-hop is: It’s sociology and English put to a beat, you know. “
” You gotta eat right, you gotta have healthy habits, you know, and balance out your decadence with a healthy lifestyle during the day. “
” Things are fluid in this world, and if you don’t remain fluid, you get lost in the sauce. “
” The beautiful thing about hip-hop is it’s like an audio collage. You can take any form of music and do it in a hip-hop way and it’ll be a hip-hop song. That’s the only music you can do that with. “
” My musical influence is really from my father. He was a DJ in college. My parents met at New York University. So he listened to, you know, Motown, and he listened to Bob Dylan. He listened to Grateful Dead and Rolling Stones, but he also listened to reggae music. And he collected vinyl. “
” Homosexuality in hip-hop is an extension of homosexuality in the black community. The black community is very, very conservative when it comes to homosexuality, and I don’t mean conservative in the good way, like we’re saving money. I mean very intolerant. “
” If I’m performing with a DJ, it’s all on me to draw the energy. I like the camaraderie of a band. “
” Skip the religion and politics, head straight to the compassion. Everything else is a distraction. “
” I don’t feel comfortable making empty music. “
” You have to learn how to harness technology so you can use it for positive stuff without being disconnected from nature. “
” We’re in an illusion about what our role is in world politics and foreign affairs, and our policies are killing and destroying and doing a lot of things that we are not aware of. “
” You’ll be fooled if you only get your hip-hop from the mainstream, you know. The things that move people are not just found in the mainstream cultures. And when we talk about hip-hop in general, hip-hop’s basically preoccupied with life. “
” I’m a fan of Bjork, a fan of Premier, you know, those are the first two names that come to my mind. You know, I’ve learned a lot from every person I’ve collaborated with, from Madlib to Jean Grae and Hi-Tek, to Mos to DJ Quik, to even somebody like Jermaine Dupri. I’ve taken something important away from every experience. “
” If I focus on being an activist and my job is to be a rapper, I’m not going to be as good of a rapper. I need to focus on hip-hop and focus on making the music, so that when the activists come to me and they need my voice to create a platform, then I’ve got enough people listening to me. Not because I’m conscious, but because I’m dope. “
” I’m at a loss for words. But even my loss is amplified. “
” A lot of these people, these program directors, just like anybody else in the world, even though they’re supposed to be leaders in the world, they’re followers. They follow what they think someone else is doing, instead of trying to blaze a trail. “
” Ain’t nobody making music to not be heard and the easiest way to be heard is to be on the radio, but you should never compromise who you are, your values or your morals. “
” And you know, art as commerce, doesn’t really make too much sense, they don’t go together. “
” As far as being on a major label, some labels get it and get what they have to do, and some labels don’t. I don’t think the label I’m on necessarily gets it, but I think over time they’re gonna have to. “
” But it becomes disrespectful when the artist’s process is not respected. “
” But you have to be creative on how you sell yourself and market yourself. “
” Even an independent label is looking for a hit, they’re not looking for a record that’s not gonna do well. “
” Hi-Tek is on three or four songs on the new record. “
” Hip-hop is a vehicle. “
” Hip-hop isn’t as complex as a woman is. “
” I met Mos Def around that time but I didn’t hook up with him until I was about 17 or 18. “
” I not only wanted to showcase lyrical skills but also continue to drop knowledge on the hiphop community. I’m looking to elevate through my music, and through my music I educate. “
” I started rapping because I wanted people to hear what I have to say, I want as many people to hear me as possible, and I do everything in my power to make that pop. “
” I think all those artists are artists who are appreciated because you believe their words and you appreciate their honesty in their music. If you don’t appreciate the honesty in the music, the beat can be fly as hell but you’ll never give an emcee props. “
” I think its man’s nature to go to war and fight. “
” I think music sharing of any kind is great. “
” I will never do a record without some sense of responsibility. “
” I’m not looking to set a standard… but, I believe I have offered a challenge to others with my work. “
” Once you’re signed to a label you compromise. “
” People consider Black Star a great album, and I think it’s a classic album. But the fact is, both me and Mos Def have made better albums since Black Star. “
” So I just had to step up how I was doing it and the moment that I stepped up and the moment I focused all my energy on that is when things started to happen. So there’s a direct relationship between my inspiration and my output. “
” So I think hip-hop is moving and is going to continue to move in the direction of rappers just being honest with themselves, whether you’re talking about Common and Mos Def or Nas and 50 cent. “
” The problem with our role is Americans live in a world of illusion. “
” War is not civilized. “
” Well if somebody’s giving me a script, I’ll consider it. But it’s not something I’m chasing. “
” Woman are complex creatures. “
” The way I see it, if people truly love my music, they will support me in some way down the road. “
” Being called a conscious rapper is quite a compliment. It’s a great thing to be. But as an artist, my nature is to not be in a box. “
” I don’t think that early hip hop stood out to be a social critique. A lot of fans of mine think that hip hop’s ultimate responsibility is to critique social structures. “
” I think hip hop is a dance music that’s rebellious by nature. “
” The responsibility of an artist is to be honest with themselves. “
” I remember looking back on a photo of me… wearing a suit that was, like, two sizes too big for me. I think a lot of guys don’t know what fits. “
” You know, there’s a lot of activism that doesn’t deal with empowerment, and you have to empower yourself in order to be relevant to any type of struggle. “
” Honestly, you have to take care of yourself. That’s probably something I have learned on the road. “
” You know, I’ve learned a lot from every person I’ve collaborated with, from Madlib to Jean Grae and Hi-Tek, to Mos to DJ Quik, to even somebody like Jermaine Dupri. I’ve taken something important away from every experience. “
” My fondest memories were watching the Beastie Boys get prepped to come on stage. They had a lot of antics and they play a lot of basketball… then they were giving out cameras to the crowd, and performing from the bleachers. The most important thing I learned was that you control your crowd, not the other way around. “
” I think once you’re in the public eye, whether you’re a boss, a teacher or whatever you do, that you’re automatically in the position of role model. You have people looking up to you, so whether you choose to accept it or not is a different question. “
” People can be inspired the way I’ve been inspired by music. “
” You make knowledge relevant to life and you make it important for children to learn things that will really relate to things going on in their lives, and not abstract. “
” Being called ‘conscious’ is a great thing to be, but it’s the connotations and preconceived notions that come with the buying audience about what conscious music can be. “
” What’s more condescending and corny than someone telling you how much more money they have than you and telling you basically, ‘I don’t care about poor people,’ which is a large part of what you hear of corporate hip-hop on the radio. “
” When I look at the arc of my career, my focus is on lyricism, right? I own that. “
” Artists look at the environment, and the best artists correctly diagnose the problem. I’m not saying artists can’t be leaders, but that’s not the job of art, to lead. Bob Marley, Nina Simone, Harry Belafonte – there are artists all through history who have become leaders, but that was already in them, nothing to do with their art. “
” My kids are the most inspiring thing that pushes me. It used to be because they were born, and I had to take care of them. Now it’s because my son raps, and he’s better than me. So now I gotta keep up with him, you know what I’m saying? “
” If you look at my career, doing albums with Norah Jones, Justin Timberlake, Gucci Mane and Lil Wayne or KRS-One and Jean Grae, I can’t be pigeonholed. “
” Young kids should be doing music that has shock value. They’ll grow out of it. “
” I think hip-hop is no more misogynistic than America is as a society. I just think hip-hop is a lot more brash, a lot more bold, a lot more loquacious. There are a lot more words that go into a hip-hop song than go into a regular song. “
” The materialism, the brashness, the misogyny – everything in hip-hop is amplified. Misogyny is a good example of something that is completely amplified in hip-hop. I do think there is more than enough of a balance, though, for fans who are willing to search it out. “
” The only way for me to be an artist is to be honest in my craft. If I veer from that, I’m not giving the investors what they want. Sometimes it’s my job as an artist to know what I want to do, even when the fans tell me different. “
” As an artist, I have to be a leader of my fans, not, like, follow them. Because if I chose to follow them, you know, they could do it. You know, it’s me who’s doing it. “
” I think the line is where you’re in the studio, you’re creating. That belongs to you as an artist. Nothing should taint that. I shouldn’t be thinking about what the fans want, I shouldn’t be thinking about what the radio wants, what the label wants, what your manager wants, a song for the chicks, a song for the street. “
” I like collaboration because, first of all, I’m good at writing lyrics. I don’t know how to make beats. I don’t play instruments. I’m not a good singer. So even when you see a solo album of mine, it’s still a collaboration. “
” I’m not an artist that has a big, huge radio record that’s going to be on BET. “
” I tour whether I have album out or not. I tour more than any other hip-hop artist. “
” When Occupy Wall Street happened, I took my money out of Citibank. I already had problems with all the banks – Citibank, Bank of America – but I was kind of just too lazy to take my money out until I saw how Citibank responded to Occupy Wall Street. “
” I take certain steps to make sure I’m relevant artistically. I always have new music and a reason to be on the road. I’m not just playing ‘Get By’ over and over. I have 12 albums. “
” There are staples to my show. I have to be conscious about switching things up because I know people who saw me last year will say, ‘He did that last time.’ But if certain things work, they work. “
” I am not a prisoner of conscious, but people try to make me one sometimes. It is both a gift and a curse. It’s a high honour but can create limitations – I have to be fluid. “
” I don’t go into any album with pressing issues. I just try to write songs. “
” What is Norah Jones’ style? Is it just the albums that we’ve heard? She has a rock group where she plays guitar in, downtown in New York, so do we really know her style? “
” It doesn’t get any more underground, conscious or indie than Macklemore, Ryan Lewis, but because they got a couple of really big pop hits, actually some of the biggest pop hits that hip-hop has ever seen, people are missing that part of their story. People are not counting that blessing. “