Talib Kweli, as with the finest artists, is possessed by a love of his medium--in this case, rap and its history. Applying his thoughtful words to music, Kweli revels in hip-hop, and his adoration of the genre is clear in all his work. Each of Kweli's records, whether alone or with Mos Def (as part of Black Star) or Hi-Tek, incorporates hints of melodies past, lines plucked from the performers who preceded him, as well as deeply studied lyrics created by his own fertile mind.
So it is with Kweli's third solo outing, THE BEAUTIFUL STRUGGLE, which alludes to the history of many forms of music while the rapper muses eloquently about revolutions and poverty and their relation to war and shattered dreams. Kweli tells an intricate story of struggling, succeeding, and failing on "Broken Glass," and jumps around from one frustration to the next on the ultimately inspirational title track. On the latter, he notes that people dub him a political rapper, when he doesn't even follow politics; rather, he looks to the icons of hip-hop from Ice Cube to De La Soul. Kweli may not aim to be a politically minded hip-hopper, but as an astute observer of life, he can't help but be aware and comment on what he sees. On BEAUTIFUL STRUGGLE its clear that he raps because he lives, and he does it brilliantly.
Spin (p.112) - "[The] poignant 'Broken Glass' riffs off Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five's conscious-rap landmark 'The Message' with outstanding, bell-rocking Neptunes production." - Grade: B+
Entertainment Weekly (p.74) - "[The album] affirms his reputation as hip-hop's conscience."
Vibe (p.185) - 3 1/2 discs out of 5 - "[A] continuation of QUALITY's attempt to expand rap's topical terrain....Kweli delivers a heart to the tin shell of 21st-century hip hop."
Mojo (Publisher) (p.96) - 4 stars out of 5 - "[I]t is Kweli's diligently intelligent worldview, dextrous wordplay and often breathtaking flow that enrapture."