As the current host of The People’s Party, a podcast dedicated to unpacking some of hip-hop’s dopest stories, Talib Kweli can officially look back on an impressive career as an emcee with pride. And while many came to discover the lyricist on the 1998 classic Mos Def & Talib Kweli Are Black Star, Talib’s solo trajectory kicked off with the release of 2002’s Quality, his debut album.
Known primarily for its massive single “Get By,” the album also featured additional production from J. Dilla, DJ Quik, and a young Kanye West, who worked his sampling magic on the lyrical masterclass “Guerilla Monsoon Rap.” Over a cinematic and vaguely eerie instrumental from Yeezy, back when flipping samples was his modus operandi, Talib, Black Thought, and Pharoah Monch proceed to put in serious work, engaging in an unspoken bout of healthy competition with no shortage of quotables and impressive rhyme schemes.
While it’s difficult to assess who truly held the honor of the standout verse, it’s hard not to appreciate some of Pharoahe’s ridiculous flows. “Guerrilla Monsoon rap, smell the fumes, get in tune with it, when I attack your city, y’all gon’ think Dr. Doom did it,” he warns, in his second of two verses. “Spit it like white trash in seed-spittin’ contests / with a vendetta that sent a better letter bomb to Congress.” If you’ve never heard this one, be sure to check it out right now, as Talib’s Quality deserves a relisten after all these years.
Guerrilla Monsoon rap, smell the fumes, get in tune with it
When I attack your city, y’all gon’ think Dr. Doom did it
Spit it like white trash in seed-spittin’ contests
With a vendetta that sent a better letter bomb to Congress