Talib Kweli Recalls A Great Story Involving Freestyle Fellowship, Neo-Soul & Rent Money (Video)
There have been several memorable Hip-Hop roommates. During the early 1990s, Gang Starr members Guru and DJ Premier lived together at several New York City residences (one was a Brooklyn home owned by Branford Marsalis). RZA and Ghostface Killah were under the same roof in the days before Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers). In the early 1990s, the Alkaholiks and Likwit affiliates formed after (according to Ice-T) passing out nightly on King T’s apartment floor. Those are just a few examples.
Appearing on Sway In The Morning, Talib Kweli revealed a new Hip-Hop fun-fact with a good story to boot. Despite representing opposite coasts, the Black Star MC had a tenant by way of Freestyle Fellowship MC Myka 9 during the mid-1990s. The two artists work together on the title track to Kweli’s newly-released Radio Silence album, which got the MC to talking.
“Shout out to Myka 9, the whole Freestyle Fellowship, Project Blowed,” begins Kweli around 13:00. “Myka 9 used to be managed by Kedar Massenburg. Kedar used to live around the corner from me. Myka had gone to a bodega and met my roommate on Classon & Gates [in Brooklyn]. Myka came over to my house to smoke weed because he met my roommate, and that’s how we became friends. Then he moved in. Myka 9 moved in…shout out to ‘Microphone Myke.’ We’ve been friends for over 20 years and we never put out a record; this is our first record we put out together.”
Sway asks if Kedar Massenburg grew upset at the change of residence. “He did! This is how I met Kedar Massenburg. He banged on my door and asked for money. I was like, ‘Nah, get the f*ck outta here; f*ck is wrong with you?’ He asked me for money ’cause Myka had given me money for rent. [Kedar Massenburg] was like, ‘Nah, I’m his manager. He wasn’t supposed to do that. You need to give me his money back.’ Me and Kedar had a problem. But that’s my man now, with his suits and everything, he done came up,” jokes Talib. Kedar, also a BK native, has been instrumental in the careers of D’Angelo, Erykah Badu, and Stetsasonic. He would head Motown Records from 1997 to 2004.
Kweli continues, “Kedar was in them streets, official. I didn’t know that back then when I was arguing with him on my stoop. But I learned later [Chuckles]. This was pre-D’Angelo. So when we went in the studio, I [saw] D’Angelo working on that [Brown Sugar. This was] when Erykah [Badu] was living in [Fort Greene], that was the rudiments of all of this.” Prompted by Sway, Kweli agrees that Neo-Soul (a term Kedar has claimed to have created) started in Brooklyn. Kweli says that because of his eventually-smoothed relationship with Kedar, he landed on Chico Debarge’s 2009 song “Math.” He has also worked with Badu.
At 20:00, Kweli unpacks his Radio Silence track “Knockturnal.” Asked if the song is designed to be a sequel to Black Star’s “Respiration,” the BK MC says, “‘Knockturnal’ is an answer to [‘Midnight’ by A Tribe Called Quest]. When you listen to that record ‘Knockturnal,’ I was trying to recreate that Tribe Called Quest record. That’s what I was trying to do.”
At 24:00 Talib kicks a brief rhyme, after some Trap beats (at Sway’s suggestion). He also says that besides Reflection Eternal partner Hi-Tek, his favorite producers to work with are J Dilla and DJ Quik. Some of Talib Kweli’s new music is on the official Ambrosia For Heads playlist.