Exclusive! Talib Kweli: I became known for “mastering the craft”


It only seems appropriate that a man with a name such as his – Talib means “Seeker” in Arabic and Kweli means “Truth” in Swahili  –  would end up becoming a lyrical genius in the hip hop arena.

I got to sit down with Talib Kweli who was invited over by Hennessy Artistry and Nairobi Hip Hop Rhapsody. Whilst the angle I’d intended to take with the interview was one of a more serious tone, the one that you are about to delve into takes on a more eccentric approach.

The hip hop legend had just spent one hour sharing his journey in the music industry with a group of young, hopeful artists and hip hop enthusiasts at the Sarakasi Dome and I had the honour of sitting in on the session.


Listening to him speak allowed everyone in that room to get to know him in an intimate manner-  one that delved into his role as an artist, entrepreneur and even family man. Talib, who admits that he became known for “mastering the craft,” did not sugarcoat the harsh realities of the music industry and gave the audience a real look into the industry. He opened up about the need to build your communities and supporters as an artist, the benefits of continuing to learn from your peers and the hip hop culture, and the importance of taking time to count the victories and study the losses. The question and answer session allowed the audience a rare glimpse into the intricacies around the music industry which rings true to Hennessy Artistry’s mission to create unique experiences between artists and their fans.

This session only made me that much more eager to get to know the artist in a more whimsical way. Read on to see learn about Talib Kweli’s worst habits, his favourite female artist and how he’d describe his children.

  • What was the last thing you ate? Honey chicken wings from Village Market.
  • If you could pick one pair of shoes to live the rest of your life in, what would they be? The one’s I’ve got on my feet right now – North Stars.


  • If you could rap alongside two other artists, alive or dead, who would they be? Big and Pac.
  • Who was the last person you texted? One of the artists on my label.
  • Describe your love life using a movie title. There’s A Thin Line Between Love And Hate.
  • What sort of Halloween costume would you like to see the ladies in this year? Sexy… anything. Sexy cat, sexy fire woman… Sexy *fill in the blank*.
  • Who would you rather interview you – Ellen DeGeneres or Oprah Winfrey? Ellen seems like she’d be more fun.
  • How long has it been since you cursed? I curse all the f***ing time.
  • If you could sneak into any room/building in the world, what would it be? I don’t know, that’s a tough question.
  • Who would like to see as President of the United States for a week? Kid President.
  • What’s the one accessory you can’t leave the house without? My hat. Excuse me, I mean my crown.
  • What time did you go to bed last night? 2AM
  • Worst habit? Smoking


  • Your favourite female artist? It’s a tie between Bjork and Miss Hill.
  • Which book do you wish you’d written yourself? The Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho
  • Bob Marley or Lucky Dube? Bob
  • Current song you can’t seem to get enough of. Sam Smith’s Stay With Me.
  • If you had to play a sport at the Olympics, which one would you go for? Jamaican bobsledding.
  • Last YouTube video that made you emotional? Prince And the Revolution at the Capital Theater live from 1983!
  • How long has it been since you had a haircut? I shave my head just about daily. And then I wear a hat…
  • Describe your children in three words. The Best Ever.
  • Favourite TV Show? Right now, my favourite show is Black Jesus.
  • What’s your most used word? Confused.
  • Favourite time of the year? Fall.
  • On a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being amazing), how would you rate this interview? 20!
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