Talib Kweli, Gravitas 

Talib Kweli doesn’t disappoint with his latest release. J Dilla (RIP), Statik Selektah and Oh No are a few who get production credits amongst others on Gravitas, and I point that out to say that Kweli chose his beatsmiths well. Overall, the album has a soulful quality rooted in blues-infused hip-hop. Check out “Demonology” to drive that point home, which has a beat driven by drums and guitar riffs provided by Gary Clarke, Jr. Lyrically, Kweli raps his anguish once again about being stuck in the “conscious rapper box,” and how people take their scrutiny in the form of verbal warfare too far.

“No wonder I’m losing blood, everybody taking a cut/Speaking in tongues, quit depicting your funds,” he raps about the Internet culture of negativity where people get the electronic courage enough to say terrible things to each other. There’s also rappity rap tunes like “Art Imitates Life,” where Kweli, Rah Digga, Black Thought and ALBe. Back trade ill bars back and forth showing off how nice they are. Other collaborations include Res, Raekwon and Mike Posner, and while Kweli is strong enough to stand on his own, his artist friends are a nice addition to the project. You won’t regret this purchase and should play it as much as possible. The album stream is available ’til December 22, but if you’re already sold, then you can head straight to his site now to cop the real thing.

Stream here.  

Purchase link here.

Blackstreet 2,  “I Luv Her (My Christmas Girl)”

Teddy Riley remixed that old thang with the help of Lenny Harold, Tony Tyler and J-Stylz T. Together they are Blackstreet 2, and they want you to get into the Christmas spirit with “I Luv Her (My Christmas Girl).” It’s a sweet song about, you know, getting soft and pink over that special lady. Vocally, it’s obvious that this is a different version of the “No Diggity” Blackstreet etched in most people’s psyches, but they still hold their own.

Bob Marley and the Wailers, The Complete Collection: The Island Years

Bob Marley and the Wailers need no introduction to reggae fanatics, but it’s still worth mentioning that there’s yet another posthumous definitive collection release. This one is an ode to Bob Marley’s musical time spent with the Wailers (but, like, the ode of odes). Listeners will find classic songs like “Kinky Reggae,” “Stir It Up,” “Is This Love” and more on the massive collection that includes live versions, original recordings and 12” mixes of goodness. You can’t go wrong but be forewarned: the project is missing “Iron Lion Zion,” for some reason.

Available at iTunes

Starrene Rhett Rocque is a pop culture junky who often fantasizes about becoming a shotgun toting B-movie heroine, and aspires to save the world from the impending #ZombieApocolypse… In reality she’s a freelance entertainment journalist/blogger who muses about music, TV, movies and love. Follow her on Twitter @GangStarrGirl or at GangStarrGirl.com.