Talib Kweli - conducted by Bill "Low Key" Heinzelman  

Talib Kweli: You Don't Know Me


MVRemix: I know from reading some of the interviews you have done lately that you are not very fond of the political system, and neither am I. But it's an important issue, so let me ask you a couple of questions. Even though Bush stole the election last time, we are still having problems with the voting process again this year, especially in regards to the ballets and booths. I mean, the Chief Executive of Diebold, which is the company who manufactures the voting machines, publicly said he was going to do anything he could to deliver Ohio's vote to President Bush. Therefore, do you think Americans are being tricked into thinking their votes matter.

Talib Kweli: I think that is the most dangerous part of the election! And I think that is the part that all these people who are pushing for young people to vote aren't thinking about. I think it is a noble cause to get young people to vote, but there are implications to it. And no one is speaking about it. They are acting like if people have an issue with voting that they are crazy, they are lazy or they don't care about the future. And to paint that broad of a stroke is dangerous. These are intelligent people who are choosing not to vote, and they are not voting because of clear cut reasons. If we are just going to dismiss all of them as being apathetic, then we are not having a discussion about what is wrong with the political system. It should not be acceptable that the President of Diebold said that, and he said it years ago. But the fact that people can allow themselves to champion voting as a strategy for change, and not make sure that those issues, such as the electoral college and the Florida situation, are at the top of the agenda is sad. Because those issues are not at the top of the agenda, what is at the top is who looks better on TV. And that is something that is very dangerous in this country.

MVRemix: Yeah, I just find it funny how we are trying to promote democracy in Iraq, when in the US, only the companies that make the touch screen voting booths have the codes to access them, and there is no paper trail at all. So how do I know where my vote goes?

Talib Kweli: Yeah, the system is obviously flawed, and that is why I choose not to vote. How can you tell me that its obviously flawed and then ask me to participate. I just don't understand it. I'm not saying it can never work, but in my history as an adult it hasn't. No matter who is President, poor people remain poor, and the rich get richer. The wealthy white land owners who founded this country have set a plan in motion that is continuing to work for them. And when people are willing to be honest about that, then I can participate.

MVRemix: Is Democracy a reality in America, or just an illusion?

Talib Kweli: I think Democracy is just another form of government. Its just another idea that works for some people and doesn't work for others. I don't think anybody has it right.

MVRemix: Do you see a military draft happening in the future?

Talib Kweli: I think that if George Bush gets re-elected that there is a possibility it will happen. But at the risk of sounding overly pessimistic, maybe something like a draft is what people need to really examine the real issues in this country. The issues are not about protecting America. It's never been about that, America is well protected. I think if people are forced to fight, instead of sitting back in their chairs and allowing people who volunteer, who are really gun ho about the country, to go and die for them, then their political views may change a little bit.

MVRemix: Yeah, I feel what you are saying. But people are going to have to die just so some individuals views can be changed.

Talib Kweli: But people are dying anyway, regardless of a draft. Its just now, people don't feel guilty about it because volunteers are the ones going to war.

MVRemix: Onto some lighter questions, are you familiar with Immortal Technique?

Talib Kweli: Yeah.

MVRemix: Would you ever want to work with him, because a lot of people think that would be crazy?

Talib Kweli: I love what Immortal Technique does. I met him at a Black August show recently, but I don't think he knew who I was when I met him. Because, I was like, "What's up Immortal Technique, what's going on". And he was like "Yo, what's up", and kept it moving. So I was going to initiate the conversation, but he had just gotten off stage, and things were hectic, so thats why. But I think he is dope as hell.

MVRemix: Recently, Nelly was quoted saying that emcees should keep politics out of rap. He said, and I quote, "If you want to do the politics thing, be more involved personally, but you could talk about that and then tomorrow wake up and you're not selling records. So now you protested the war, and your broke". What do you think about that, being someone that mixes politics and rap?

Talib Kweli: I mean, I think there is a general truth to what he is saying, but taking that statement out of context without allowing Nelly to explain himself is an inaccurate statement. But its definitely true that its hard for artists to be promoted if their views are political. Because politics and entertainment should not have to mix. Artists should not have to feel politically motivated to say anything. But the fact of the matter is, our platform is a lot bigger. But because I'm pegged as that type of artist, I always have to address those types of questions. When I get on stage at a concert venue, to do the same thing that Nelly does as a living, I'm not trying to beat nobody on the head with some politics. If there is loud speakers, a microphone and some drinks, I'm trying to get you to shake your ass. I ain't trying to get you to think extra hard. If I was trying to do that, I would tour the college circuit with Krs and them. But at the same time, the challenge for me is, in the middle of entertaining you, because that is what I do for a living, can I get you to think about something. I choose to take that challenge upon myself, I don't have to do it and Nelly doesn't have to do it either.

MVRemix: What else do you have going on in the immediate future?

Talib Kweli: I'm on tour with the Beastie Boys now, I'm about to go out on tour with Kanye. Plus, I'm gonna put out another mixtape. And that's what's poppin'.

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"But people are dying anyway, regardless of a draft. Its just now, people don't feel guilty about it because volunteers are the ones going to war."