The place to find and share independent music. From hip-hop to pop, dubstep to drum n bass; Beatnik is your filter.
Train of Thought
“Ten years of listening has been time well spent.”
“I miss the patience in music“—Hi-Tek, 2009
Given that it paved the way for a herd of independent acts, it’s slightly paradoxical that the ascendancy of Rawkus Records in the mid-to-late 1990’s was backed by money taken straight from the Murdoch media empire (Rupert Murdoch’s son James was one of three founders of the label). Or maybe it was completely logical; Rawkus was an independent label that had the resources and ambitions of a major label. Financial viability was second to artistic merit and a whole generation of fans (yours truly included) experienced the finest conclusion imagineable of hiphop’s golden decade. Talib Kweli and Hi-Tek’s debut album as Reflection Eternal, Train of Thought, was released in 2000 when Rawkus was at the pinnacle of its influence.
Even taken out of context, the album unquestionably stands the test of time. Hi-Tek’s production is sample-based, organic hip-hop that dabbles with African drum rhythms (’Africa Dream‘, for instance), funk (’Soul Rebels‘) and jazz (’Love Speakeasy‘) for good measure. Each song is tailored around Talib’s topical flow; not only are they stand-out beats, but the mood of each song is carefully calibrated. ’Too Late’ and ’Memories Live’ are two back-to-back examples of conceptually complete songs. The former a chilling inquiry into the fate of hip-hop culture backed by followed by a warm and pensive dose of nostalgia over the softest of rhodes. Magic.
While Train of Thought holds its own musically on any day of the week, it also speaks volumes about the era in which it was created. The product of the duo’s endless bussing between Cincinnati and New York in search of quality time in the studio, the album’s incremental conception was coupled with costly single releases for Move Somethin’ and Blast. It was the combination of patience and funds fans had come to expect from Rawkus. The resultant body of songs is abundant in timelessness; whether the deeply moving ‘Good Mourning‘, the short but incredibly sweet single ‘Blast‘ or the gripping narrative of bonus track ’For Women’. Ten years of listening has been time well spent.
Words Sven Carlsson