Talib Kweli in Conversation

Monday, April 07, 2014 - 11:00 AM

Arun Venugopal speaks with rapper Talib Kweli about music, memories and the good and bad of gentrification. He defends Spike Lee’s recent rant about the invading hordes of homeowners in Fort Greene. Kweli also admits that while it’s hard to watch Brooklyn, and New York City, lose its rough edges — the "new" New York has some upsides.



Produced by:

Emily Botein


Karen Frillmann


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Comments [8]

Bill from The old Brooklyn

Arun I am only a little surprised that you let the rapper Talib talk like a racist and not challenge him..after all you
are part of the double standard media. How could you let him get away with generalizing the entire white race as privileged and somehow not deserving of the good things in life? I am white and worked my butt off working overtime and sacrificing to obtain what I consider good things. Nobody gave me anything, I deserve what I earned and guess what Talib…..I am a proud white male! Arun, would you have challenged racist talk like that if it came from a white person? Somehow I believe you would have but it todays world it is OK to trash the white race! However
Arun do not feel bad, the majority in your profession accepts the double standard as well!

Apr. 11 2014 10:26 AM

Arun, I'm puzzled why you did not raise the question about how Talib's nostalgia for the days that he would stay away in fear from Ft. Greene Park and "Murder" Avenue is oddly paired with his unhappiness about what he sees as gentrification and new residents "disrepecting" (and moreso) the longstanding (i.e. African-American)culture and vibe of that neighborhood. The Ft. Greene-Clinton Hill area strongly reflects positive values of African and African-American culture (in restaurants and shops, both in terms of fare and clientele). Is he saying it would be better to have higher crime and less diversity? I have no problem with WNYC airing the views of a popular hiphop/rap artist, but not without at least querying about some pretty strange and counter-intuitive logic.

Apr. 08 2014 08:17 PM
Shana from Clinton Hill, Brooklyn

As someone that lives in the neighborhood, I understand what he is talking about when it comes to new residents respecting long time residents. We have had lots of issues in the neighborhood of longtime fixtures being harassed by new residents that don't like the idea of people "loitering." Most of these so-called loiterers are old men and women, sometimes kids, that like to gather outside and talk to each when the weather is nice outside. I once saw the police questioning a man walking with his wife and pushing his kid in a stroller about whether or not he lives in the area. It was four o'clock in the afternoon.

I like that the neighborhood is safer. But rents are skyrocketing and there is a certain sector within the new transplants that want all the long time residents gone. A vast majority are respectful of the law abiding long time residents, but there is always that random person that seems to think that they've moved to some homogenized suburb rather than a borough in a major city.

Apr. 08 2014 05:51 PM

The rapper gives the tip-off on his shallow and bigotted view of New Yorkers who are not just like him. He says that the people moving in to make a home and assume the normal role of responsible neighbors and citizens are "privileged." Privileged compared to his model citizens who are essentially losers, uneducated and incapable of holding a job or earning a living. These are his folks, and also Spike Lee's. Somehow these losers, for whatever reason, are stuck in place,--- ignorant, bitter and destined for lifetime of disappointment --- but, nevertheless, entitled to stay exactly where they are, in festering slums, getting along as best they can.
Rap that story out to them and maybe they'll learn a little something about what life is meant to be.

Apr. 08 2014 12:07 PM
randolph from west chelsea

this guy is such a hypocrite.

"Born in Brooklyn, New York, Kweli grew up in a highly educated household in Park Slope. His mother, Brenda Greene, is an English professor at Medgar Evers College of the City University of New York and his father an administrator at Adelphi University.... Talib Kweli was a student at Cheshire Academy, a boarding school in Connecticut. He was previously a student at Brooklyn Technical High School before being academically dismissed. He later studied experimental theater at New York University."

LOL, so he is so hood and feels the need to wax poetic about the good old days when a beautiful park was too dangerous to go in and perpetuate that silly "murder ave." crap when in reality THE DUDE WENT TO BOARDING SCHOOL AND GOT KICKED OUT OF BROOKLYN TECH FOR HAVING BAD GRADES.

if he misses the good old days so much he should move his family to brownsville. or better yet he should stfu.

Apr. 08 2014 09:16 AM
masey from BROOKLYN

I live in a part of Brooklyn which could really use some "gentrification". And - also remember the Brooklyn of Spike Lees movies - with thanks to God that My brothers and I made it out of those good old days alive. The same can't be said for many friends from the neighborhoods. Maybe the only people who long for that crime ridden, graffiti covered blight are the ones who can make money telling stories/ making movies of how hard it was growing up in these places. The rest of us can appreciate more dog-walkers and baby strollers on our streets.

Apr. 08 2014 08:55 AM
BK from Hoboken

After discussing how he couldn't walk in Ft Greene Park after dark as a child, or walk down Myrtle/"Murder" Ave, he then says the new (presumably law-abiding) people walking their dogs need to respect the old residents. Yeah- law abiding citizens are so callous that they don't give props to the old gang members. But yeah, gentrification is always bad. Get real.

Apr. 08 2014 08:39 AM
john from office

Why does WNYC give a soapbox to a rapper? Why are black music "artists" called upon to discuss issues of the day?? This is a subtle form of racism.

Next we will have a Klezmer band on to discuss mid east politics, a latin band to talk about latin american politics or Kid Rock to discuss National security.

See how weird that would be?? But it is ok to have a rap "star" come on to talk about issues of the day. MC Hammer will be next on the crisis in Eastern Europe.

Apr. 08 2014 07:41 AM

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