CD Reviews: Talib Kweli, Chance the Rapper and J. Cole

Conscious Hip-Hop

Talib Kweli, Prisoner of Conscious (Capitol Records)

Talib Kweli—a product of the late ’90s underground hip-hop scene—struggled with 2011’s sketchy and formulaic Gutter Rainbows. He atones for those errors with Prisoner of Conscious … to a certain degree. When Kweli spews his magnetic stream of consciousness on the Kendrick Lamar- and Curren$y-assisted “Push Thru” and the powerful “Human Mic,” he’s brilliant. However, his insistence on proving he’s accessible leads to a few forced moments that submerge the album in mediocrity. ★★★☆☆

Hip Hop Kaleidoscope

Chance the Rapper, Acid Rap (Self-Released)

Chicago MC Chance the Rapper is primed to break through in 2013. With his unique delivery, the 19-year-old drops a musical kaleidoscope of vivid rhymes on the mixtape Acid Rap. Chance’s drug-inspired rhymes aren’t as simplistic as Wiz Khalifa’s because Chance paints his lyrical portraits with more colors. He splatters his canvas with quotables alongside Ab Soul with “Smoke Again” and Childish Gambino on the playful “Favorite Song.” He also dives into his personal feelings on the narrative “Acid Rain.” With all the tools to set him apart it’s only a matter of time before Chance becomes the new “it” guy. ★★★★☆

Weed Rap

J. Cole, Truly Yours 2 (Self-Released)

If the songs featured on J. Cole’s upcoming album Born Sinner are anything like the free tunes on both installments of Truly Yours then we are in for a great album. After the first volume was released in February, Cole comes through with more that are too impressive to be given away. From “Cole Summer,” which samples Lauryn Hill’s “Nothing Even Matters” to the punch-line-heavy assistance from 2 Chainz on “Chris Tucker,” J. Cole is creating a buzz for his sophomore album. His biggest asset is his ability to remain grounded, as evidenced on “Cole Summer” where he puts his success and finances out in the open. Hopefully he hasn’t blown his load with these free projects. ★★★★☆

Disc Scan

Upcoming albums on Andreas’ radar …

JUNE 18: Mac Miller looks to prove that he’s here to stay as he drops Watching Movies With the Sound Off. JUNE 25: Both J. Cole and Wale go head to head in a battle of Internet rappers who cracked into the mainstream as they release Born Sinner and The Gifted, respectively. But something tells me that one of these albums will end up getting pushed back.