After nearly a year in delays, Talib Kweli finally has a release date for his third solo album.
Ear Drum is set for release on July 24 via his Warner Bros.-distributed imprint, Blacksmith Music. It features production from Kanye West, will.i.am, Madlib and former Reflection Eternal partner DJ Hi-Tek. The album title, says Kweli in a press release, represents “the image of the ear and of the drum, which are powerful enough by themselves, but put them together and it’s an instrument in your body that helps you hear. They’re also two very simple, yet powerful words. I wanted to focus on finding a sound that makes you move, and that’s where the word ‘eardrum’ popped in my head.”
A lot is riding on Ear Drum for Brooklyn’s finest. Ten years removed from his “Fortified Live” debut with Reflection Eternal (yes, it’s been that long), many people in the music industry have written Kweli off, asserting that his time has passed and he’ll never break through to a wider audience. That may be the reason why a solid single released last year, “Listen,” failed to connect. It was a strong single, but too predictable.
In Kweli’s defense, however, his approach to lyrical content may prevent him, like the Roots, dead prez, Common and many others, from ever going pop. With Ear Drum, he’ll have to convince skeptics that it’s okay to make great albums without commercial pretenses. And since even Jay-Z isn’t selling two-million plus nowadays, the bar is much lower; a critically-acclaimed album that sells in the hundreds of thousands, like Lupe Fiasco’s Food & Liquor, may be enough to convince Warner’s higher-ups that he’s maximizing his potential.
The new lead single for Ear Drum is “Hot Thing.” Other tracks include “Soon the New Day” (with Norah Jones) and “Say Something” (with Jean Grae).”We need to challenge our audience,” says Kweli in the press release, “but we also need to challenge ourselves to know that whatever our new experiences are, we can write about them, be creative, and bring that to an audience without them feeling alienated.”
Wish him luck. In the meantime, check out the “Listen” video again. I’m telling you, shit ain’t bad.
Talib Kweli photo by D-Nice.