Revolutions Per Minute
Released On: May 18, 2010
Released By: Blacksmith / Warner Bros. Records
10 years since their classic contribution, Train of Thought, sealed their fates in hip hop lore, Talib Kweli and Hi-Tek release their follow-up venture, Revolutions Per Minute. With their first collaboration praised for its uplifting messages and nostalgic soundscape, Kweli's command of the mic and Hi-Tek's versatile production skills have made this album one of the most anticipated hip hop albums of 2010.
Aside from the denotative meaning — the number of times a record can go around on a record player — Talib Kweli explains the title is two-fold: "It's the idea of revolution through music. It's the idea that people in today's culture take things in YouTube-sized bites and clips and if it's not in a clip or a soundbite or something that you can fit in under a minute, people don't pay attention to it. The idea is: How many revolutions can you get accomplished in under a minute in a quick culture?"
Exclusively produced by Hi-Tek, features on the album include appearances by Estelle, Bilal, Bun B, Mos Def, Jay Electronica, J. Cole, Res and Chester French. The album covers an array of topics that discuss the shortcomings of America ("Strangers"), society's obsession with fame ("Got Work"), an honest discussion of drug use ("Lift'in Off"), the pining for a lover returning home ("Midnight Hour"), a music history lesson ("In the Red"), and even a track about Nigeria's corruption-riddled oil business ("Black Gold").
This kind of entertainment with real world application manifests itself on the album's first single "In This World." Accompanied by Hi-Tek's pulsating bass and a gripping soul sample, Kweli contemplates success and the infinite obstacles that prove burdensome to its maturation with a resounding co-sign from Jay-Z.
Reflection Eternal's signature blend of edutainment shines brightly on "In This World." Backed by Hi-Tek's throbbing bassline and stirring soul sample, Kweli outlines his recipe for success while realizing that we tend to live by the following troublesome axioms: "Slave to our possession/Greed the Devil favorite weapon." "I get a chance to brag and boast a little bit on that song, but it's really about the hustle," Kweli says.
The pair then recognizes the hustle and grind of longtime collaborator Mos Def and up-and-comers Jay Electronica and J. Cole on the horn-backed "Just Begun." It's a magnificent marriage of supreme lyricism and dizzying flows accented by clever turns of phrase. Kweli sustains this heightened level of artistry on the pulsating "Got Work," where he delivers a powerful meditation on our culture's infatuation with fame.
"Strangers" with Bun B explores the shortcomings of the United States' medical system and some of our country's governmental shortcomings, while "Black Gold" features Kweli focusing on Nigeria's oil business. The latter was inspired by Kweli's own trip to the African country, which left him both inspired and enraged. Elsewhere, "In The Red" gives an informed music history lesson and "Liftin Off" delves into an honest discussion regarding the effects of drug use, while the lively, soulful "Midnight Hour" celebrates an anticipated reunion with a lover.
The Source Magazine gave Revolutions Per Minute an early 4Â½ mic review in their March 2010 issue stating that, "While Train of Thought placed Hip-Hoppers into a soulful, spiritual trance that could be likened to Tribe's Low End Theory, Revolutions Per Minute adopts a modern Public Enemy timbre with lyrical grace and production that doesn't alienate."