Recommended Reading | Vibrate Higher: A Rap Story by Talib Kweli

"Before Talib Kweli became a world-renowned hip-hop artist, he was a Brooklyn kid who liked to cut class, spit rhymes, and wander the streets of Greenwich Village with a motley crew of artists, rappers, and DJs who found hip-hop more inspiring than their textbooks (much to the chagrin of the educator parents who had given their son an Afrocentric name in hope of securing for him a more traditional sense of pride and purpose). Kweli's was the first generation to grow up with hip-hop as established culture--a genre of music that has expanded to include its own pantheon of heroes, rich history and politics, and distinct worldview.


Vibrate Higher illuminates Talib Kweli's upbringing and artistic success, but so too does it give life to hip-hop as a political force--one that galvanized the Movement for Black Lives and serves a continual channel for Black Resistance."


vibrate higher talib kweli


Reading Vibrate Higher was like sitting in a hip-hop class with a world-renown professor and respecter of the craft. It's quite obvious that Talib Kweli is a hip-hip scholar and as a fan of the way he so beautifully weaves together rhymes and prolific thought, I hung on to every word he said while reading. From musings on his upbringing in Brooklyn, NY, to his experiences with life and music, I enjoyed learning more about how hip-hop became such an integral part of his life. It was a treat to learn of how Talib Kweli first got connected to Nkiru Books/Nkiru Center for Education & Culture and detailed accounts of his collaborations with other creative artists, especially Yasiin Bey (formerly Mos Def). 


In Vibrate Higher, Talib Kweli covers so much territory. From his friendship with Yasiin Bey, his feature on Kanye West's College Dropout album, his family life (and relationship woes), on down to the state of our current political climate, Talib Kweli holds nothing back. He speaks with such conviction and honesty at every angle. The one thing I could say against this book was that it ended too soon. I honestly did not want it to end! I suppose I will have to listen to more of his podcast episodes to get my fill. In short, I was so invested in this book. 


Any true student of hip-hop will love this one. Anyone who simply appreciates the art and appreciates the true artist that is Talib Kweli should definitely get familiar with this read. You will not be disappointed. Also, checking out the audiobook version is the perfect cherry on top!


Major thanks to Netgalley + Farrar, Straus and Giroux for the copy of Vibrate Higher in exchange for an honest review. To purchase your own copy of the book, click here.


4.5 Stars

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