For those who lost faith in Talib Kweli after 2004's stale The Beautiful Struggle, you should definitely give his latest Ear Drum a try and you might find yourself being won over again. Around 2002, I would have still considered Talib one of the best 10 MCs in the game, but after The Beautiful Struggle was released, I couldn't even mention him as one of my current faves. The production wasn't the only downfall of that album, but Talib's quest for mainstream listeners resulted in rhymes that simply weren't exciting or inspiring. Kweli has managed to strike a better balance of mainstream pandering while holding on to his underground roots on his latest. "Country Cousins" shows Kweli using the Midwestern double time flow (which I didn't even know he had in his arsenal) over a laidback soulful beat with UGK contributing as well. If that isn't a recipe for success, I'm not sure what is. You have two of the best acts from the East and the South together on a track and the results make for one of the more beautiful hip-hop tracks of the year.
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