Sound — 7
Talib Kweli's last album was "Prisoner of Conscious," which had more of a focus on his musicality and the beats used in the tracks, while "Gravitas" is focused around the lyrics. Originally, the album was going to be produced by Q-Tip but due to what Talib Kweli referred to as an inability to get the face time with Q-Tip he used other producers and will release the music he has been working on with Q-Tip at a later time. There are 11 tracks on the album with an approximate runtime of 44 minutes and was released by Javotti Media.
The album opens up with the track "Inner Monologue" which opens with sampled audio from a speech or monologue about art and creativity, and when Talib's verses start it is kind of like the mission statement of the album. "Inner Monologue" was produced by Khrysis. "Demonology" is up next, with the verses having a narrative style and Gary Clark Jr. featured on the track - or his guitar is featured, anyway. The song has a pretty wild vibe to it and is probably my favorite track from the album. "Demonology" is produced by Lord Quest. "State of Grace" is up next and features Abby Dobson on the track, and is also produced by Lord Quest. "Violations" features Raekwon and is produced by Thaddeus Dixon. The subject of "Violations" fits really well with the previous work Raekwon has done both as a solo artist and as a guest with other artists. "Rare Portraits" is up next and is produced by Oh No. "New Leaders" features The Underachievers and is produced by Statik Selektah. "New Leaders" has a really optimistic vibe to it and is fun to listen to. "The Wormhole" is produced by Oh No and seems to be a rant about other hip-hop artists rapping about Illuminati conspiracies. "What's Real" features guest vocals by RES and is produced by Rich Kidd. "Art Imitates Life" has several guests, featuring Black Thought, Rah Digger, and ALBe. Back and is produced by Oh No. "Lover's Peak" is produced by Sixth Sense. The album closes out with "Colors of You," which features Mike Posner and is produced by J Dilla. While I enjoyed the album, the beats could be a lot more interesting than they are, but I guess there is a balance if you want people to listen to what you're saying instead of just nodding their head to the beat.
Lyrics — 9
Talib Kweli is a really interesting lyricist - specifically because he has a good combination of lyrics and flow. Most conscious rappers seem to either be great at writing verses, but not really having a great flow while delivering them, but Talib Kweli seems like he has a pretty decent balance.
The vocals from the album are supposedly Talib Kweli doing things exactly like he wants to do with the focus on the vocals and lyrics above everything else. Here are some lyrics from the closing track, "Colors of You" (featuring Mike Posner): "My self-expression require every color in the spectrum/ My self-reflection make the light change direction/ When you see it from this angle, the color that cut the clarity/ Stars bringing me down, it's the depravity and gravity/ Having me in my blue phase, go off the grid for a few days/ Go on a journey without a suitcase/ The security of obscurity/ In a world of respect and I'm trading it like it's currency/ Currently it's soft as a mallet hitting the xylophone/ He's so yellow, I'm wishing this fellow right his wrong/ Now in steady it's synthetic and Styrofoam/ Recite a poem, some monotone that ain't monochrome/ My light will poke through the clouds, I'll take you higher like you smoking the loud/ While I provide at your kaleidoscope of sound/ You can see it with your ears, you can hear with your eyes/ You can feel it right here yea/ Colors of you/ You don't look like turquoise/ You don't look like gold/ You don't look like purple/ That'll match on you/ Ayo the world is a coloring book/ Look, new discoveries every time when I color outside the lines/ Colors of you/ Ayo the world is a coloring book/ New discoveries every time when I color outside the lines/ Colors of you."
Overall Impression — 8
I enjoyed the album quite a bit, and I like Talib Kweli's perspective he is usually rapping from. My favorite tracks from the album would probably be "New Leaders" and "The Wormhole." I didn't really dislike any track from the album. I am interesting in the tracks that Talib Kweli was working with Q-Tip on, so hopefully we'll hear those tracks at some point in the near future.