Though he is an undeniably talented rapper, Talib Kweli has been in something of a creative holding pattern since the release of 2002’s Quality, an album whose unyielding title seems to have provided Kweli with his creative mantra. The problem is that Kweli’s conception of quality, self-righteously indignant raps over dusty sample based beats, is something of an anachronism in 2007. Yet there are many pleasures to be found here. Kweli’s trademark lisp sounds particularly compelling over the rheumatic thump and squeal of Madlib’s “Everything Man,” while the once mighty Pete Rock proves that he’s still capable of turning out stellar material with the defiantly old-school “Holy Moly.” The album becomes most tiring when Kweli gripes about his now marginalized status as an underground rapper abandoned by a fickle fanbase. In truth, if Kweli is irrelevant in 2007 it is his own fault. Still it's unfortunate since he has done little to earn such commercial neglect other than to continue to produce quality music. Those who have enjoyed Kweli’s music in the past will find much to enjoy on Eardrum.

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