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1 January, 2000@12:00 am

HipHopSite: Explain the meaning of the name Reflection Eternal…

Talib Kweli: Basically, “Reflection” has to do with the reflection of our ancestors, or things that came before us, as well as reflection of where hip-hop is at now. “Eternal” is like forever, and that is just what we are trying to represent.

HipHopSite: That’s interesting. The name always reminded me of when you are standing in between two mirrors, and you see and endless reflection of yourself. But, what is the reason that the group is now called “Talib Kweli & Hi-Tek”, rather than “Reflection Eternal”?

Talib Kweli: Certain people feel like the audience is stupid, and they won’t get it… and to a certain extent, they’re not stupid, but they sold “Mos Def & Kweli are Blackstar”. It took selling that, to understanding what Blackstar is. They know Mos Def, and they know Kweli from Blackstar, now they may know Hi-Tek from producing on the Blackstar album, but the idea is to get them familiar with us. But the name of the group is Reflection Eternal, and right now it’s just a matter of trying to get people familiar with who is in Reflection Eternal.

HipHopSite: So, what exactly is Wanna Battle… isn’t Reflection Eternal somehow connected with that?

Hi-Tek: Have you ever heard of Mood? That’s a group out of Cincinnati that I produced for, and their camp is Wanna Battle. We are affiliated, that’s the first work Kweli and I ever did, on the Mood album, through TVT / Blunt.

Talib Kweli: Wanna Battle is groups like Holmskillet, Lone Catalysts, Piakhan, Five Deez… there’s a lot of talent in Cincinnati.

HipHopSite: So, being that Talib is from Brooklyn, and Hi-Tek is from Cincinnati, what brought you together to form Reflection Eternal?

Talib Kweli: When I was in college, one of my roommates was from Cincinnati, and one time I went to go visit him. At the time, he was hanging out with Mood a lot, and Hi-Tek was producing for Mood, and I got on their second single that they put out. I had heard Hi-Tek’s beats from then, and liked them, and when we did a demo together, that’s when I felt my stuff was really poppin’ off. That was like 1993.

HipHopSite: So, how did the Blackstar connection fit into all of this?

Talib Kweli: Reflection Eternal was there years before Blackstar was even thought of. Mos Def and Mr. Man both happened to be on the first Reflection single, “Fortified Live”. Being that Hi-Tek lived in Cincinnati, and Mos and I lived in Brooklyn, we’d often do shows together…. he would do “Universal Magnetic”, then we’d both do “Fortified Live”. The energy and vibe was there, so the idea was to do something that would let people know who Mos Def is, and who Talib Kweli is, so that we could both follow-up with our own projects after that. So, now it’s time to go back to what we were doing originally.

HipHopSite: Do you consider Blackstar just a one-time deal?

Talib Kweli: No, we have a new album coming out next year on MCA, through Mos’s label, “Good Tree”.

HipHopSite: There was some talk about you and Mos opening a bookstore in Brooklyn. Can you shed some light on that?

Talib Kweli: We bought a bookstore called Akiru Center For Culture and Education, it’s a non-prophet organization. My Moms runs it.

HipHopSite: What would you say are some important books that you’ve read, that other people should check out?

Talib Kweli: The quintessential book I always say, that changed my life, and that I think is required reading, is “The Autobiography Of Malcom X”. There’s a book called “The Alchemist” by Paulo Coelho which I think is a great book; “2000 Seasons” of course; “A Lesson Before Dying” by Ernest Gaines; “Pimp” by Iceberg Slim.

HipHopSite: Do you have other hobbies outside of hip-hop? Obviously reading….

Talib Kweli: I don’t really consider reading a hobby, I watch a lot more movies that I do read…

HipHopSite: What is the greatest film of all time?

Talib Kweli: The Blues Brothers.

HipHopSite: Top Five?

Talib Kweli: Blues Brothers; Scarface; Mo’ Better Blues; Reservoir Dogs, and……

HipHopSite: Star Wars.

Talib Kweli: Star Wars is up there, but not in my top five….

HipHopSite: Aight. The whole involvement with both the Unbound and Hip-Hop For Respect projects. How did all of that come about?

Talib Kweli: Hip-Hop For Respect was an idea that Mos had after we did this song on Weldon Irving’s CD about Amadou Diallo. I sort of had my hand more on the orchestration of it, while it was more Mos’s idea. I have to give respect to all of the artists involved in that project, because it was overdue, and something like that needed to happen in hip-hop. As far as the Unbound Project, because of the type of music that I do, I get a lot of activists approaching me, wanting me to participate in things. Frank Sosa and them approached me, asking me to do a song for their project. It wasn’t no thing, if we I had the time, we’d do it.

HipHopSite: Why do you think a lot of big name rappers don’t involve themselves in these kinds of projects?

Talib Kweli: They don’t have the situations around them, or the people around them, or the context for them to get involved with projects like that. From what I have noticed from the type of career I have, it’s really easy to get caught up, where you’re just hanging out with other rappers or other people in the music business, or you don’t watch the news or read the newspapers. You’re not existing in the world that other people are existing in, because your job is to make records. You have all these people running around, trying to make sure everything is all right for you, so that you can make these records, and you kind of lose yourself, and lose your connection with the people. A lot of times, it’s not even the artist’s fault, but people try their best to keep the artists isolated, because they think “Oh, if the artist starts thinking too much, or worrying about this too much, then we’re not going to make our money.” A lot of people’s jobs are based on these bigger name artists, and you have to go through five or six people to get through to them. I think most of these artists, if presented with the situation they would get down. Jay-Z mentioned Mumia on his songs, and Amadou on his album, Bruce Springsteen just did a song about Amadou, Lauryn is doing one, Wyclef is doing one. But I think all artists from DMX to N.W.A. to Blackstar deal with police brutality on their records.

HipHopSite: So what artists do you listen to? I guess there’s a common misconception that because you guys are on Rawkus, that you only listen to underground 12″ singles, and everything….

Talib Kweli: Yeah, that’s the same misconception that you can’t get into Reflection Eternal unless you are a vegetarian or unless you are conscious, which is kind of fucked up. Right now I’m listening to Rah Digga, Red & Meth, Ghostface, Dead Prez, Eminem, Common, Jay-Z, as far as hip-hop goes.

HipHopSite: What are you trying to accomplish with the Reflection Eternal album?

Talib Kweli: I’m just trying to make an album that lyrically has one focused train of thought, one sort of stream of consciousness running through it. We can make different songs for different regions, for the club, for the street, but I was trying to go back to making an album with a definite statement. Where it’s fun, it’s quality, you can dance to it, but it’s not just random statements, random songs, but instead has a sense of continuity.

  Mixtape D.L.
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