Rapper, activist, and intellectual Talib Kweli is hailed for his stellar collaborations. The Experience Vinyl curator has worked with giants like A Tribe Called Quest and Mos Def, as well as promising upstarts like Anderson .Paak. Most recently Kweli has reunited with his longtime rap collaborator: Styles P. The duo is set to release The Seven – a seven track EP – in mid April.
In the meantime, The Seven’s lead single “Last Ones” just got dressed up with a brand new music video shot on the streets of Oakland. “Last Ones” merges two great minds in hip hop, asserting Kweli and Styles P’s relevance despite their 20 plus years in the biz. In fact, this track wouldn’t be possible without that veteran status, as “Last Ones’” main credo is how hard it was to survive the rap scene.
In the song’s opening lyrics, Kweli proclaims, “All my rap friends went crazy/I’m the last one left/These haters prayin’ they can celebrate the last one’s death.”
The underlying beat is steady and ominous, and would sound just as natural in a John Carpenter slasher film as it does cradling the swiftly spit rhymes of Kweli and Styles. The black and white video flits about as rapidly as their words, introducing us to the neighborhood locals in one frame, and zooming in on gun-grasping hands in the next.
In typical Kweli fashion, “Last Ones” is a dense cut – a maximalist rap song in which every measure is tightly packed with lyric. It is also complex in messaging; calling out the tragedies of the hip hop community, but also empowering it with shots of men in jackets reading “America #blacklivesmatter” and slipping “Fuck the KKK” into one verse.
At the end of the day, Kweli wants to embolden his audience with his music – a goal that is palpable in “Last Ones’” closing words:
“Whatever is true/Whatever is honorable/Whatever is just/Whatever is pure/Whatever is lovely/Whatever is commendable/If there is any excellence/If there is anything worth a praise/Think about these things.”
The Seven is out April 14th. Check out the video for “Last Ones” below.