Talib Kweli has struggled with finding a way to merge his lyrical gifts with his commercial aspirations. On his latest effort, The Beautiful Struggle, he succeeds with songs like "Ghetto Show" (with Common and Anthony Hamilton), "Black Girl Pain" (with Jean Grae) and the first single, the Kanye West-produced "I Try," featuring Mary J. Blige. However, spotty production weakens Kweli's flow on many of the other tracks. On "Going Hard," for example, Charlemagne's weak beats do not mesh well with these lyrical gems: "People ask me how we wearing diamonds/When there's little kids in Sierra Leone losing arms for crying while they're mining." Overall, the record lacks the continuity of Kweli's prior work, namely his collaboration with Hi-Tek on 2002's Reflection Eternal. Although the MC reunites with Hi-Tek on three cuts, only one shines. On the title track, Kweli realizes his full potential as he defiantly declares, "The struggle is beautiful/I'm too strong for your slavery."
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