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LAist Interview: Talib Kweli

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Talib Kweli is your favorite rapper's favorite rapper. On his first farewell, The Black Album, rap superstar mogul Jay-Z gave Kweli the greatest sign of respect when he spit the following line "If skills sold/Truth be told/I'd probably be/Lyricly/Talib Kweli." The son of two college professors, the Brooklyn native is far from your average emcee. In the fall of 2007, Kweli released the critically acclaimed and commercially successful album Eardrum, the first from his new label, Blacksmith (Warner). Tonight and Saturday, the gifted lyricist returns to Los Angeles for two shows at the House of Blues.

What do you enjoy most about coming out to LA?
I definitely enjoy the weather. I enjoy hanging with Strong Arm Steady, who as you know are based out here in LA and are apart of my label Blacksmith.

So I hear there has been a second show added for the HOB, was that a result of the first show selling out?
The first show is sold out, so we had the opportunity to add another show on Saturday. I’ve been selling out the House of Blues for a while now. That's nothing new to me. But the love I am getting from Los Angeles on a consistent basis definitely feels good. I always have a great time and appreciate the love when I perform out here.

There are a lot of emcees you work regularly with out here in LA, can we expect any special guests to hit the stage with you this weekend?

Whoever happens to show up, you know.

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Right now many people are saying that the music business doesn’t have much left. Record sales continue to decline and the only way to make money is to perform live. Do you think rap shows can sell as well as live performances from other genres?
Good music is good music.People will pay to go see good music. I think the HOB will sell regardless of whether my album sells or not. I have built a fanbase who are loyal to me and my music and support my shows.

What mistakes from your time as an artist on Geffen are you trying to avoid now in your position of power with Blacksmith?

I learned that you have to be upfront with your artists. You have to address the challenges that will come about on a project. With Geffen when there was a challenge that arised on my project they weren’t upfront with me about it. Labels aren’t proactive with the addressing challenges. Now that I am in the position I am very upfront with my artists.