Talib Kweli, a thinking man's rapper – Talib Kweli, 37, began rapping in the mid-1990s and quickly became known for his provocative lyrical content. Here, he performs in Universal City, California, in 2005.
Talib Kweli, a thinking man's rapper – Kweli paired up with fellow Brooklynite Mos Def (now known as Yasiin Bey), right, to form the group Black Star. The pair's 1998 debut album, "Mos Def & Talib Kweli Are Black Star," is considered a classic.
Talib Kweli, a thinking man's rapper – Kweli, here performing during the 2012 Sundance Film Festival, has never been as well-known as his Black Star counterpart, but he has gone on to release five solo albums and three more collaborations with other artists in addition to making guest appearances on albums and doing mixtapes.
Talib Kweli, a thinking man's rapper – Kweli's only No. 1 hit to date, 2000's "Move Something," came after he joined forces with Cincinnati's DJ Hi-Tek, right, forming Reflection Eternal. The two would have several successful songs together.
Talib Kweli, a thinking man's rapper – From left, Kweli, filmmakers Shukree Hassan Tilghman and Sharon La Cruise and activist Angela Davis at a Black History Month panel last year. The rapper often addresses the plight of African-Americans in his songs, once rhyming, "N****s with knowledge is more dangerous than n****s with guns/They make the guns easy to get and try to keep n****s dumb."
Talib Kweli, a thinking man's rapper – Kweli, pictured with his wife, DJ Eque, in 2009, says his two children listen to hip-hop, so he feels a responsibility to rap about more positive things to provide balance to the music genre's mainstream messages.
Talib Kweli, a thinking man's rapper – Kweli is often regarded -- even by Jay-Z -- as one of the best lyricists in hip-hop, but the kudos haven't always translated into album sales. He is shown in 2008 on the set of "Yo! MTV Raps" with host Cipha Sounds, right.
Talib Kweli, a thinking man's rapper – Kweli performs with Strong Arm Steady at New York's Apollo Theater in 2007. The self-described "ebony man/Apollo legend" released his early works with Rawkus Records and has since launched two labels, the now-defunct Blacksmith Music and Javotti Media, which released his latest album.
Talib Kweli, a thinking man's rapper – Kweli, here in 2003 with Kanye West, Common and Kevin Liles, then-executive VP of Island Def Jam, said he'd like hip-hop fans to know he has worked with the best. Among the big names on his new album are Busta Rhymes, Nelly, RZA and J. Cole.
Talib Kweli, a thinking man's rapper – Pictured behind author Cornel West at the 2001 Taking Back Responsibility hip-hop summit, Kweli has always been known for the intelligence and thoughtfulness of his lyrics. With "Prisoner of Conscious," he'd like to be known for his music, too, he says.
Talib Kweli, a thinking man's rapper – The bad news for Kweli's fans: "Black Star, at this juncture, is a live-only experience. ... We do a lot of shows, but there's no plans for a record or album or anything like that at this point," Kweli says.