As far as respect goes, Kweli has hardly laid back from his first single, the underground hip-hop classic "Reflection Eternal." Mos Def may have gotten more press post-Black Star, but on the duo's self-titled 1998 album, Kweli frequently had the killer lines: "You stoppin' us is preposterous/Like an androgynous misogynist/You pickin' the wrong time/ Steppin' to me when I'm in my prime/ Like Optimus."
On 2000's Reflection Eternal, his full-length collaboration with Hi Tek, Kweli keeps up the pace, mowing down sucker MCs with lines like "I call these cats Reynolds' cuz they plastic rap" and excoriating the gangsta mentality on "Africa Dream": "These cats drink champagne to toast death and pain/Like slaves on a ship talkin' about who got the flyest chains." And thanks to Hi Tek's soul-fueled beats, he manages that hip-hop rarity: a manifesto that refuses to bog down into stale posturing.
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