The Beautiful Struggle

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The Beautiful Struggle
Studio album by Talib Kweli
Released September 28, 2004
Recorded 2004
Genre Alternative hip hop
Conscious hip hop
Length 53:40
Label Rawkus/Geffen
Producer Hi-Tek
The Neptunes
Supa Dave West
Kanye West
Just Blaze
J.R.
Midi Mafia
Charlemagne
Tone Mason
Amadeus
Talib Kweli chronology
Quality
(2002)
The Beautiful Struggle
(2004)
Eardrum
(2007)
Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Source Rating
Metacritic (66/100) [1]
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 3/5 stars [2]
The Austin Chronicle 1.5/5 stars [3]
Entertainment Weekly B [4]
The Guardian 3/5 stars [5]
HipHopDX 3.5/5 stars [6]
Pitchfork Media (7.6/10) [7]
PopMatters 5/10 stars [1][8]
RapReviews 8/10 stars [9]
Robert Christgau (1-star Honorable Mention) [10]
Spin B+ [11]
Stylus Magazine F [12]
Vibe 3.5/5 stars [13]

The Beautiful Struggle is the second solo album by American rapper Talib Kweli. The album was released in 2004, and features guest appearances by rappers such as Common and Jean Grae. The Beautiful Struggle, as with all of Talib Kweli's work, focuses on the serious side of rap, providing an alternative to today's mainstream gangsta rap and pop rap.

The album featured production from Kanye West, The Neptunes, Supa Dave West, Just Blaze & Hi-Tek. The first single off the album, "I Try" featuring Mary J. Blige, was fairly popular as a music video, followed by the second single "Never Been In Love".

Origin of album title[edit]

The album name, "The Beautiful Struggle", comes from a quote from rapper Mos Def. The quote, found inside the album liner notes, is,

Life is beautiful. Life is a struggle. Life is a beautiful struggle.

The phrase, "Beautiful Struggle", originated in a famous Martin Luther King Jr. speech entitled "Beyond Vietnam":

We must move past indecision to action. Now let us begin. Now let us rededicate ourselves to the long and bitter, but beautiful struggle for a new world. This is the calling of the sons of God, and our brothers wait eagerly for our response.

"The Beautiful Struggle" is also the name of Ta-Nehisi Coates' autobiography.

Lastly, "Beautiful Struggle" is the title of a radio program on KPFK-FM, Los Angeles that is an open conversation focused on African American social and political issues, thought, history, inspiration, resistance, and social change. The program aims to educate and motivate the audience to work for justice and social change.

Track listing[edit]

# Title Length Producer(s) Performer (s)
1 "Going Hard" 3:50 Charlemagne Res, Talib Kweli
2 "Back Up Offa Me" 3:38 Hi-Tek Talib Kweli, David (Piakhan) Stanford-(background and hook creator)Alex Thomas (background), Dion (background), Krondon (background)
3 "Broken Glass" 3:11 The Neptunes Talib Kweli, Faith Evans (background)
4 "We Know" 3:43 Supa Dave West Faith Evans, Talib Kweli
5 "A Game" 3:36 Amadeus Talib Kweli
6 "I Try" 4:25 Kanye West Mary J. Blige, Talib Kweli
7 "Around My Way" 4:48 Charlemagne John Legend, Talib Kweli
8 "We Got the Beat" 3:20 Midi Mafia Res, Talib Kweli
9 "Work It Out" 4:20 Hi-Tek, J.R. Rotem Talib Kweli, Tiffany Mynon (background)
10 "Ghetto Show" 4:47 Supa Dave West Anthony Hamilton, Common, Talib Kweli
11 "Black Girl Pain" 5:04 Midi Mafia, Tone Mason Jean Grae, Talib Kweli, Elizabeth Yummy Bingham (background), Jamia Simone Nash (background), Olivia Sharnae Nash (background), Tiffany Mynon (background)
12 "Never Been in Love" 5:01 Just Blaze Talib Kweli, Dave Young (background)
13 "Beautiful Struggle" 4:00 Hi-Tek Talib Kweli

Samples[edit]

Album singles[edit]

Single information
"I Try" featuring Mary J. Blige
  • Released: September 28, 2004
  • B-side:
"Around My Way" featuring John Legend
  • Released: 2004
  • B-side:
"Never Been In Love"
  • Released: 2005
  • B-side: "A Game" & "Black Girl Pain"

Album chart positions[edit]

Year Album Chart positions
Billboard 200 Top R&B/Hip Hop Albums
2004 The Beautiful Struggle #14 #3

Internet advance[edit]

Before the official release of this album in 2004, a bootlegged advance of the CD began to be circulated on the Internet in the rough stages of production. Because of this, the track listing was altered prior to release.

When the album leaked, a frustrated and angry Kweli posted a response on Okayplayer. In it, he admitted that he would also jump at the opportunity to hear an artist's CD early but condemned those who actively spread it.

Advance track listing[edit]

  1. "The Revolution" (appears as "Going Hard" on The Beautiful Struggle)
  2. "Back Up Off Me" (appears as "Back Up Offa Me" on The Beautiful Struggle)
  3. "From A Place" featuring Killer Mike (appears as "Tryin' To Breathe" on The Beautiful Mixtape Vol. 2)
  4. "I Try" featuring Mary J. Blige (appears on The Beautiful Struggle)
  5. "We Got the Beat" featuring Res (appears on The Beautiful Struggle)
  6. "Around My Way" (appears on The Beautiful Struggle)
  7. "What We Have is Real" (appears as "We Know" on The Beautiful Struggle)
  8. "Rock on and on" (appears as "Rock On" on Right About Now)
  9. "You Don't Know Me" (appears as "Flash Gordon" on Right About Now)
  10. "Its the Ghetto" featuring Common (appears as "Ghetto Show" on The Beautiful Struggle)
  11. "Hold Your Hands Up High" featuring Jean Grae (appears as "Black Girl Pain" on The Beautiful Struggle)
  12. "Lonely People" (appears on The Beautiful Mixtape Vol. 1)
  13. "We Pullin Out Tonite"
  14. "Instrumental" produced by Kanye West (an instrumental, sampling Hugh Masekela)
  15. "Get Em High" featuring Kanye West (appears on Kanye West's The College Dropout)
  16. "Supreme" featuring Mos Def (appears as "Supreme Supreme" on Right About Now and The Beautiful Mixtape Vol. 2)

The tracks from the advance album are slightly different from those on the final release. "The Revolution" features an introduction (possibly performed by Dave Chappelle) while "Hold Your Hands Up High" has a little girl singing the chorus.

References[edit]

External links[edit]