Liberation is a MC/producer duo consisting of Brooklyn veteran Talib Kweli on the mic & Oxnard extraordinaire Madlib behind the boards. The pair first linked up in ‘07 off the strength off an eponymous self-titled debut backed by Stones Throw Records & have collaborated with each other a handful of times since, with the last time being Black Star’s long-awaited sophomore album no fear of time* about 10 months ago at this point. An album much like Gotham’s own self-titled debut the year before proved that Kweli can still make great music even though I’m not afraid to acknowledge the fact that he makes a total prick out of himself on social media these days. Nonetheless, Liberation’s returning in effect for a sequel to their debut that’s been 2 years in the making & I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t looking forward to it.
After the “Assata’s Code” intro, the first song “Best Year Ever” sets the album up with a jazzy boom bap instrumental & Kweli talking about how things are only gonna get better from hereon out whereas “Air Quotes” has a more empowering quality to the beat as the subject matter delves into the fakeness & toxicity of everyone else in the rap game. “Nat Turner” with Cassper Nyovest blends trap with afrobeats obviously getting on a more conscious tip lyrically, but then “1 for Biz” with Wildchild works in some pianos along with these kicks & snares to pay homage to the late Biz Markie.
Meanwhile on “Loop Digga’s Revenge”, we have Madlib hooking up a soul sample shouting out those who grew up staring at album covers & encouraging to come to a show if you wanna see the greatest in action just before Pink Siifu tags along for the the slick “Ad Vice” talking about how unapologetic both of he & Kweli are with the latter’s daughter Diani on the hook. “Wild Sweet Love” comes through with a drumless get spacious vibe getting romantic leading into the flute/string-tinged “Wild Beauty” instrumental interlude.
The late Mac Miller slides through for “The Right to Love Us” reminding everyone what our women are fighting accompanied by a jazzy beat with some heavy kicks while “After These Messages” with Amani finds him joining his dad on the mic so the father-son pair deliver a meditation on American racism over some keys, strings & horns. Roc Marciano & Westside Gunn tag along for the sequel to the highlight track “Richies” off Hitler Wears Hermes IX down to the same Soul Superiors sample “Trust in Me Baby” as the trio bring it raw on the mic.
The track “Marathon Through Babylon” has a colder tone instrumentally as Talib & Meshell Ndegeocello both ponder why & when did everyone become such sheep as well as comparing their rhymes to that of alkaline & prior to the “Assata’s Reprise” outro, the final song “Something Special” really ends the album by mixing these synthesizers with jazz-funk icon Roy Ayers on the vibraphones by calling this innovation as opposed to imitation.
I with all respect like to compare Kweli to Kanye in the sense that both of them are established veterans with an insane amount of artistic talent who publicly make asses of themselves on the regular & I say that because when you think about that in the grand scheme of things, the apple really doesn’t fall far from the tree. That being said: Liberation 2 most certainly lived up to my expectations by continuing Talib’s artistic redemption that the Gotham album began & no fear of time* continued on with. Madlib’s production is potently jazzy & dusty with the whole concept of globally unifying through space & time undeniably needed to be heard.