Talib Kweli was born Talib Kweli Greene on October 3, 1975 in Brooklyn. He was raised in a highly-educated household in Park Slope and both his parents were professors of English and Sociology, respectively.
His younger brother, Jamal Greene, is currently a professor at Columbia Law School.
As a child, he was drawn to African-American rappers such as De La Soul, whom he met during high school. He studied at Cheshire Academy, a boarding school in Connecticut and also studied at Brooklyn Technical High School.
He then enrolled at New York University, where he studied experimental theater.
Talib Kweli made his professional debut in 1997 and appeared on ‘Doom’, an album by a group called, ‘Cincinnati’. He met DJ Hi-Tek here and the duo collaborated on a couple of underground recordings under the name, ‘Reflection Eternal’.
In New York, he connected with the rapper, Mos Def and formed the band ‘Black Star’. They produced their first album, ‘Mos Def and Talib Kweli Are Black Star’, in 1998, a period when rap was gaining popularity. The album became an instant hit.
The duo split afterward, and Kweli and Hi-Tek resumed their partnership, and released ‘Train of Thought’ in 2000, which received tepid reviews but became a critical hit.
He split with Hi-Tek and produced his debut, solo album, ‘Quality’ in 2002, featuring production by different producers like Kanye West and DJ Quik. The album was met with widespread critical acclaim and hit the no.1 charts.
In 2004, Talib Kweli, supported the ‘Beastie Boys’ on their ‘Challah at Your Boy World Tour’ and also featured in the remix video of ‘NBA Street Volume 2’.
He released the album ‘The Beautiful Struggle’ in 2004, from which, the single, ‘Ghetto Show’ became an instant hit with the masses. The lyrics in this album retained socio-political content, but the album as a whole, suffered mainstream success.
In 2005, he released a CD with Blacksmith Records called ‘Right about Now: The Official Sucka Free Mix CD’.
He was seen on MTV’s ‘Wild ‘N Out’ and ‘Chappelle’s Show’ with Mos Def. He was also a guest rapper on Kanye West’s album, ‘The College Dropout’ for the single, ‘Get ‘Em High’.
In 2006, he provided the voice of the protagonist for the themed video game, ‘Marc Eck?’s Getting Up: Contents Under Pressure’.
On December 31, 2006, he released 9 songs with producer, Madlib, under Stones Throw Records. The 9 songs were recorded under the album, ‘Liberation’.
He signed a distribution deal with Warner Bros. Records and released the album, ‘Eardrum’ on August 21, 2007. The album reached the no.2 position on the Billboard 200 and the album’s single, ‘Listen’, became a huge hit.
In October 2007, he embarked on a tour in Australia and also appeared in the MTV reality show, ‘MADE’ in March, 2008.
He released a mixtape, ‘The RE: Union’ in late December 2009, with DJ Hi-Tek, which was released under Warner Bros.
He also featured with Res, an R&B singer in an album called ‘Party Robot’, which was released under free download on Kweli’s website in 2009.
On May 18, 2010, he teamed up with DJ Hi-Tek and released a second duet album titled, ‘Revolutions Per Minute’, after a ten-year lull. The album received swell reviews.
On November 16th, 2010, he released his fourth solo album, ‘Gutter Rainbows’.
He appeared on the cover of ‘Willie the Pimp’ with other stars like Darryl McDaniels and Mix Master Mike in December, 2010.
He confirmed that his next albums would be titled, ‘Prisoner of Conscious’ and ‘Liberation 2’.
‘Mos Def & Talib Kweli Are Black Star’ was released on August 26, 1998 and revolved around the chemistry between the two emcees. The album was immediately hailed as a success by critics and became a mainstream success.
‘Quality’, which released on November 19, 2002, was his debut, solo album and received wide critical acclaim and is considered a classic by many of his fans. It reached the no. 21 position on the U.S. Billboard 200 and the no. 6 position on U.S. Billboard Top R&B/Hip Hop Albums.
‘Gutter Rainbows’ is the fourth solo album by him and although it was originally meant to be released in digital format, it got its CD release on November 16, 2010. In the first week the album sold 13,900 copies in the United States and 19,000 copies in the second week. It was hailed as one of his best works.