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click to enlarge OK, Talib, on a scale of one to 10, how much do you - rock?
  • OK, Talib, on a scale of one to 10, how much do you rock?

Talib Kweli has been credited as an influence by some of the more prominent rap artists of today, including Def Jam CEO Jay-Z and multi-platinum rapper 50 Cent. His level of social consciousness is Tupac-esque in nature; his talent is unquestionable, and he's even worked with Kanye West and Dave Chappelle on multiple occasions.

So why the 31-year-old Brooklyn-born Kweli isn't more of a household name yet is baffling to those familiar with his work. As is the wont of the fickle cosmos, at any given second, the populace at large will undoubtedly turn synchronously to give Kweli his due and vault him to the paparazzi-infested pinnacle of entertainment's A-list.

But that hasn't happened quite yet, which means that his lucky fans can still catch Kweli in smaller, more intimate venues, like the historic Ogden Theatre. Kweli will be all over the map to promote the January 2007 release of Ear Drum, his first project on his own label, Blacksmith. Hardly a novice at the recording game, Kweli's first two efforts were with the groups Black Star (with Mos Def) and Reflection Eternal (with Hi-Tek). The latter's album went gold.

Earlier this year, Kweli and partner Corey Smyth started Blacksmith Music Corp., and quickly inked deals with the West Coast's Strong Arm Steady and South Africa's female wunderkind, Jean Grae. Additionally, rumors of a deal with MF DOOM are afloat.

With Kweli's irons in new creative fires and a sideline full of supporters, it shouldn't be long before he outgrows the Ogden.

Talib Kweli

Ogden Theatre, 935 E. Colfax Ave., Denver

Friday, Dec. 1, 8 p.m.

Tickets: $25, 16-plus; visit nipp.com.

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