UGG Australia, the Down Under branch of the American footwear company, recently unveiled This is UGG—their first-ever global campaign to shine a spotlight on the small moments in life that are ultimately the largest and most impactful—at the midtown CORE: club in New York City.
Hip-hop artist Talib Kweli helped kick off the event by sharing one of the small moments in his life that led him to fully pursue his dream of becoming an MC. Kweli took us all the way back to the beginning of his career, prior even to partnership with Mos Def in Black Star.
Kweli discussed his time on the West Coast hip-hop scene in 1995, through various odd jobs, from a Brooklyn bookshop to a Financial District stockbroker, ending at an all-night cypher session in New York City’s Washington Square Park. That was a night of clarity. Kweli shared it was in this moment that he knew he had to pursue rapping.
EBONY.com spoke with Talib Kweli following his performance about the influencers in his life, how he’s grown as an artist throughout the years, and his upcoming projects.
EBONY: It’s not until you’re looking back that you realize the impact little moments actually have. How have these moments helped shape some of the larger outcomes in your life?
Talib Kweli: I think you have to develop a knack for noticing things as they happen. If you can notice those small moments and how impactful they are early, you can form a blueprint for your life. It’s weird because they seem like small moments as they’re happening, but as I recount them, if they’re that impactful it means they were really big moments.
EBONY: You’ve talked about the history of conscious hip-hop, and your challenge of staying relevant while still being considered a conscious artist. Can you speak to that challenge?
TK: That was a challenge that I had for many, many years. My challenges now are different. The music industry is different and so it would be foolish of me to try to keep up with the Joneses or, you know, even try to compete with a teenage rapper. I have teenagers myself. To me now, it’s more about building around what I’ve already put out there. But yeah, certainly for a number of years that was my focus. Of, like, “I have an opportunity to have a voice in this mainstream that can be conscious and thought-provoking.”
EBONY: How has your music changed over the years?
TK: The focus is more on making music. When I first started, I was more of a writer—[with] notebooks and notebooks of rhymes. Now I’m more of a musician. It’s more about the song is king.
EBONY: You’ve mentioned your dad as a big musical influencer. Who are your influencers now?
TK: My parents continue to be my biggest influencers. My parents and my city. I would say they have had the most impact on who I am as a musician.
EBONY: What role do your kids play in the music you’re creating now?
TK: They’ve been my biggest inspiration and in more ways than one. You know, content wise. My legacy and what I want to speak on. But also in terms of inspiring me to work harder. I have a family to support.
EBONY: Can you tell us about your legacy and the message you’re trying to get out?
TK: I’m trying to represent the best part of myself through my music. I leave that to the public to decide [on what the best part of me is].
EBONY: What new projects do you have in the works?
TK: I just put out my album, Gravitas, on my site. It’s my last project. Now I’m working on whatever artists are associated with my label, Javotti Media.
Ravelle Worthington is a writer living in New York City. Follow her on Twiter @ravmo.