On Tuesday, Styles P and Talib Kweli graced Billboard's Facebook Live stage with a performance and interview regarding their new collaborative album The Seven.
After unleashing a fiery performance of "Brown Guys" and "Last Ones," both rap veterans spoke on how The Seven came to fruition.
"I saw Talib on the road one day somewhere and I said, 'We gotta knock this joint out,'" Styles P said. "We were saying it for a long, long time, but it was really time to knock it out. One, I just feel like for me, personally, what he stands for in this thing of ours, hip-hop, the community, I just wanted people who even look at my background to really look at this whole hip-hop thing and [learn] that we have to combine and be together. It can't be a conscious rap. It can't be a gangsta rap. It can't be a party rap. We at a time and space in life where brothers like us gotta do what we do."
On The Seven, Styles and Talib prove to be a formidable pair on the mic. Besides providing a barrage of lyrical gems, the duo also push their political agendas. "Brown Guys" finds both men speaking on the struggles endured by blacks on a daily basis in America. Styles also gave his advice to African-American parents looking for alternatives to protect their children amid tumultuous times.
"Stay safe, pray up. Talk to your kids a lot," he advised. "Moreso than anything, I think for me, that's where it's limited. I don't think it's just talking about our kids. You gotta talk to the white parents and the white kids too, if you're cool with them, and you got that family life.
With the hip-hop culture constantly shifting, the newer generation are being asked to push the needle lyrically. When asked which pair of MCs he wished would team up for a collaborative project, Kweli called on Kendrick Lamar and J. Cole. "I think that would be interesting," said Kweli, noting that a joint project has been rumored for years. "They're both very good at talking to everybody, talking to women. I think a lot times women feel left out. Women love Kendrick. Women love J. Cole because they talk to women directly, but they're also talking from a personal experience, and they talk to the hood. I think that would be an interesting album I would want to hear."
The final track on The Seven, "Last Ones", finds Kweli and Styles boasting about being the last MCs from their class. On the hook, Kweli raps" All my rap friends went crazy, I'm the last one left." Last year, Kweli's collaborator, Kanye West, was at the center of headlines. Not only did West's cancel his Saint Pablo tour due to fatigue and exhaustion, he met with President Trump, a move that didn't sit well with Democrats or hip-hop fans. When asked about words of wisdom he'd give West, Kweli said he still considers the Chicago lyricist a genius, despite his antics.
"I don't necessarily feel like I'm in the position to give advice to Kanye because he's lived a different life from me and he has struggle and pain that I can't even begin to imagine, and vice versa," began Kweli. "I think when you fly close to the sun and you achieve greatness, it was a little tongue and cheek for me to say, 'All my rap friends went crazy,' because it's really a sane reaction to the craziness in your life. And certainly, with Kanye, and his seemingly support of Donald Trump, that's something that I spoke on and I had an issue with that personally, but that's not my issue with Kanye as a man. He's a genius. He's an icon. He's given me life as an artist."
Like West, DMX has had his share of struggles as of late. Last month, DMX delivered an egregious performance during The Ruff Ryders reunion show at the Barclays Center. The following week, the embattled rapper reportedly checked into rehab and canceled his upcoming shows. Styles P shared his words of advice for rappers have difficulty overcoming certain struggles.
"Pray. Stay balanced and just try to keep a good rapport and vibe with people. As an artist, people think that this sh-t is easy, said The LOX MC. "It's not an easy job. They see the accolades, cars, the women, the shows, the magazines, money and whatever, and they think it's cool. It's not easy to wake up every day."
Watch Styles P and Talib Kweli's full performance and interview on Facebook Live below: