Now this album has been a long time coming, Rawkus have kept Kweli and Hi-Tek on the backburner for a long time but managed to keep us salivating with a slew of 12" from the group. Some of you may be distressed to find out a lot of the tracks like ‘The Express’, ‘Human Element’ and the classic ‘Fortified live’ do not appear here, they make room for the new stuff, and besides you would have copped them when they appeared if you really wanted them. So it seems like the Dream Team has arrived with a full length, Talib Kweli with his intelligent rhyming and Hi Tek with those oh so beautiful beats.
The first thing that caught me about ‘Train of Thought’ is that its not really a predictable album, I mean RE could still have encapsulated us with a bunch of ‘Manifestos’ but they didn’t, they made an album that would not only be appreciated by the Underground but would also reach out to lovers of all hip hop without compromising their sound. There's even a very convincing imitation of Nelson Mandela on the intro. Kweli then just eases you into the album before we are stomped with the current single ‘Move Something’. Now this is one of the first indications that although its not what you expected its gonna be one hell of a ride. The pumping horns are nothing like you heard from Hi-Tek before as Kweli hits you from all angles with his lyrics. Talib Kweli has always been able to rap his arse off, he manages to get more in one line than most emcees get in a whole track. That’s not just quantity, I’m talking about quality and how more apt than the chilling backdrop of ‘Too Late’, a song that haunts the tip of your spine with not only the production but Kweli's chants of ‘Is it to early to Mourn is it to late to Rise’. On a similar vibe comes the pleasing ‘Good Mourning’ a track that seems to complete this album as a whole with its melancholy (but uplifting) content.
Those of you expecting a bunch of Okayplayer or Native Tongues type collaborations may be in for a shock as tracks like ‘Down for the count’ features Xzibit and Rah Digga and ‘Ghetto Afterlife’ features Kool G Rap (Rawkus using their Cross promotion again). But are they suited collaborations? Well maybe they shouldn’t have worked as their styles are different but they do, in fact I’d say De la’s appearance on ‘Soul rebels’ is overshadowed by these tracks. They even manage to pull out Rick James for the hook on ‘Touch You’, a funky track that opens with a verse from Piakhan, an emcee with a Southern Twang with a lot of potential if he can keep displaying a flow like this. This is one of my favorite tracks as no matter what I am doing my neck muscles cannot restrain from moving to the beat. Did I forget ‘Some kind of Wonderful’ and ‘Eternalists’? Both tracks among 2000’s best.
I only have 2 problems with the album, I wish ‘On my way’ had been a full track and not an interlude as this track could have been one of the albums starring moments. The next is the beat for ‘This means you’, the flowing string sample would have made this track even better than it already is unfortunately we have to wait for the hook to get a dose of that treat. Kweli meets up with his Brother from another mother and Black Star companion for this track and well all I can say is that these two emcees can still produce magic results of this high caliber. The album closes with ‘For Women’ as Kweli reflects his opening verse on his meeting with a 107 year old woman and the impact it has on his thoughts as his respect for the female race opens up all over this track, ignorant its not.
The journey was amazing and you’ll want to take the Train of Thought over and over again, traveling has never been so enjoyable.