Brooklyn rapper Talib Kweli recently weighed in on what Young Money’s Nicki Minaj brings to the rap game and how female emcee Jean Grae holds her own against men and women artists alike.
Comparing Grae and Minaj, Kweli pointed out the differences in what both rappers offer with their caliber of talent.
“Jean — I feel like Jean is my favorite rapper, over just about everybody,” Kweli explained in an interview. “That doesn’t take away from the fact that when it comes to those 16 bars, Nicki Minaj spazzes out. Whether people like her metaphors or faces she makes, or all that she does, she makes sure that her verse is the most interesting on everything she’s on. Now that’s just her phenomenon. Jean has had a different path. Jean and the nature of her music? There’s more depth with Jean’s music and the subject matter she deals with than on Nicki’s commercial level. And so, there’s gonna be a slow burn when you’re dealing with more depth.” (All Hip Hop)
Kweli also explained why Grae’s rise to fame has taken longer than Minaj’s perceived boost to the top.
“Jean has never had an opportunity to release an album on a major level. It took an MC like Lil Wayne to have faith in what Nicki was doing and place her on that pedestal. I’m not as big as Lil Wayne, but I’m big enough to where I can take someone like Jean Grae, and not take away from what she’s doing, but add to it to the point where she gets a proper, proper release. I feel like when Jean does get a proper release, the world will know and there won’t be any more question.” (All Hip Hop)
In the mid-1990’s, Grae was associated with a group called Natural Resource before venturing into a solo career.
Natural Resource broke up in 1998 due to creative differences, but the exposure with the group worked towards Jean’s benefit. Changing her name from What? What? to Jean Grae, she was asked to appear on a number of songs with artists such as Herbaliser, High & Mighty, the Mumia 911 Project, the Hip-Hop For Respect project, Mr. Len, Da Beatminerz and Masta Ace. In the summer of 2002, Jean Grae released her debut album, Attack of the Attacking Things. The album featured the assistance of Da Beatminerz, Mr. Len, and Masta Ace. The album received much critical and fan acclaim as one of the best female hip-hop albums since Lauryn Hill‘s 1998 album, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. This Week followed in 2004. (All Music)
Grae is featured on Kweli’s new Gutter Rainbows solo album.
Talib brings his artist Jean Grae to the mix for Uh-Oh, produced by Oh No, this will no doubt be in the iPod of every backpacker. Spitting through violent organs and strings, Jean Grae shines hard on the track; “Psychopath/ Ride a tricycle in a bikers club/Mike Tyson face tatted addict like you like it rough/Hey scatter brain don’t get your grey matter punched up/Till you hunched up talking like you punch drunk.” (Yo! Raps Magazine)
Check out Talib Kweli & Jean Grae’s “Uh Oh” below: