Talib Kweli and Styles P both began their carers as parts of a unit, with Talib making his entrance alongside Mos Def on the 1998 album, Mos Def & Talib Kweli Are Black Star, while Styles P would find his footing as a member of The LOX. However, both rappers have been able to branch off and enjoy fruitful solo careers and exceed expectations, remaining relevant nearly 20 years after their respective debuts were released, with plenty still left in the tank.
Trending more towards Talib Kweli’s brand of heady musings about the powers that be and disrupting the system holding the underprivileged captive, Styles P’s gangster is felt on the Oh No-produced “Brown Guys,” which captures him lamenting the effects of White privilege and juxtaposing it with the plight of minorities.
Despite being a dynamic pairing in their own right, Talib and Styles phone in a few other guests to join them on The Seven, as is the case on “Nine Point Five,” which features NIKO IS on the hook and Styles’ LOX brethren Jadakiss and Sheek Louch contributing verses of their own.
A Malcolm X speech precedes “In the Field,” and is followed by Common, who links up with The Ghost and frequent collaborator Kweli on the 88-Keys-produced affair “Teleprompters.” “Eager for the evening, the night is like breathing/We do wrong for all the right reasons” Common delivers, while Styles chimes in with guttural musings like, “Know what police do, If you ain’t got the vision to see through/They’ll leave you in the water like seafood,” while Vic Orena navigates tumbling drums while tackling the hook.
Collaborative projects tend to be hit and miss, but Talib Kweli and Styles P avoid turning in a glorified collection of filler and patchwork with The Seven, constructing a focused and entertaining effort with the intent of waking up the culture and analyzing the matters at hand.
Throughout the album’s seven tracks, Talib Kweli and Styles P confront an array of topics that have impacted America and the world at large as of late, and mince no words while doing so.