We were privileged enough to ask some questions to this great artist. Find out what he had to say on touring the UK, his new label, forthcoming projects and writing blogs.
What's up Talib? How's life treating you?
Life is good… No life is grand.
What are your fondest memories of touring the UK with the Beastie Boys?
My fondest memories were watching the Beastie Boys get prepped to come on stage. They had a lot of antics and they play a lot of basketball… then they were giving out cameras to the crowd, and performing from the bleachers… The most important thing I learnt was that you control your crowd, not the other way around. They would chastise the crowd for being too rowdy if it looked like people were gonna get hurt. That was cool.
How do you find the UK crowd when you're over here?
The UK crowd is finnicky like a NY crowd, but they always show me love, so I'll always be back…
Have you had the chance to hear our domestic hiphop artists and what did you think of their material?
I'm friends with artists like Ty and Estelle, and they perform with me at my shows… I'm feeling Kano right now, especially '9 to 5' and the girl song, 'When I Linked You'.
How long had you been thinking about starting your own label and what was the catalyst which saw you launch Blacksmith Music?
I never had intentions to start a label until I saw how badly Geffen handled my project. I knew I could do better.
What labels, perhaps artist run, do you particularly respect and would like to emulate the quality or sucess of?
G Unit and Good Music.
What artists do you hope to sign? There was talk about you getting MF Doom and Rakim on there…
The artists we signed got signed not just because of their talent, but because of their work ethic… You're gonna hear new music from Strong Arm Steady and Jean Grae whether I put them out or not… They grind, and that's what I love. I would love to work with Doom and Rakim.
How liberating does it feel to be out of your previous contracts and on Blacksmith?
God bless the child that has its own…
Do you feel past label situations were detrimental to towards your creativity?
Nothing has been detrimental to my creativity. I put out the music I wanted to put out, and made the music I wanted to make… but I did question whether I wanted to be in the music business any more…
What forthcoming projects can you tell us about?
'Blacksmith The Movement' the mixtape is next. We have a project with Cut Chemist coming through Blacksmith. Jean Grae 'Jeanius' with 9th wonder. New Kweli, 'Eardrum', with tracks from Kanye, Hi-Tek, Midi Mafia, Mad Lib, DJ Khalil, featuring Jean Grae, Norah Jones, UGK, Sizzla and others.
What other artists would you like to collaborate with?
Bjork, Rza, Lauryn Hill, Outkast.
Your 'Ms Hill' track really moved Lauryn Hill fans. Did you get any response from her?
Yes. She has the song and her response posted on her Myspace page.
You've been writing a blog. What benefits does that offer you in getting your message to the fans?
It's great because it cuts out the middle man and eliminates the need for a record company, but it's seductive, especially MySpace because everyone who hits you loves you… It's not balanced. At the same time, to read all the negative stuff can affect your spirit when you are really working hard.
Does your writing at length get you more analysis and criticism and how do you feel on that?
I write at length because in this business, we are not selling music, we are selling ourselves. If the fan can't relate to you as a person nowadays, they will not support you. It didn't used to be like that, but kids these days, i'll tell ya!
If a publisher approached you with a book deal, is that something you'd be interested in?
Yeah, I might have some books in me…
Mos Def's acting career looks in full flight now. Would you like to take on some acting roles at some point?
Sure. Why, you got one?
Are you still always asked Blackstar reunion questions?
Of course… People connect music with a time in their lives, and although album sales don't reflect it, Black Star came out at the perfect time…
Is a new Reflection Eternal album likely, or will you just do tracks here and there for now?
Who knows? I'm excited about the new Hi-tek stuff I've done though.
What's the feeling from the inside about the state of US hiphop right now?
I rarely have a problem with the state of hiphop… I like it all.
Check out Talib's official Myspace page to hear recent tracks including new single 'Listen' produced by Kwame' and Jean Grae collaboration 'New York Shit'. The 'Eardrum' LP drops on Blacksmith Music, late summer.
Visit TalibKweli.com where there's currently an opportunity to design Blacksmith Music's label logo and in turn, win monetary compensation and a day with the man himself on tour.