Talib Kweli rose to prominence in the late '90s as the not-Mos-Def half of the pioneering underground alternative hip-hop group Black Star. Since then the prolific Kweli has had difficulty shaking the oft-scoffed "conscious rapper" label, despite having released albums with a decidedly more mainstream-accessible sound. Still, collaborations with the likes of Kanye West, Madlib, Pete Rock and scores more have endeared Kweli to critics and fans alike and helped prove the versatility of the rapper.
If Skills Sold: Jay-Z's lyrical nod on 2003's Black Album helped to expose Kweli to more mainstream success but may have contributed in an ancillary way to that one career misstep, 2004's Beautiful Struggle. All has been forgiven with last year's Gutter Rainbows, though — expect melted microphones at the Old Rock House.