Kweli’s second solo album from 2004. The Beautiful Struggle finds the BK MC still searching for mainstream commercial success that has eluded him thus far, despite the massive success of numerous underground hits along the years. He sounds more confident than ever on tracks like "Back Up Offa Me," produced by his Reflection Eternal partner Hi-Tek, and the Neptunes-produced banger "Broken Glass" that really brings out a fierceness in Kweli. "We Know" and the album’s Kanye-produced lead single "I Try," feature Faith Evans and Mary J. Blige, respectively, both whom add a much needed warm contrast to Kweli’s often monochromatic flow. Aside from occasional missteps like "Around My Way," whose moving lyrics just barely overcome the saccharine backing track derived from the Police's “Every Little Thing She Does” and the uptempo “We Got The Beat,” this album is Kweli’s most accomplished and mature work, and it makes an impressively strong finish with the triumvirate of "Ghetto Show" featuring Common and Anthony Hamilton, "Black Girl Pain" featuring Jean Grae, and the title track. Kweli's greatest strength is the realness of the persona that he projects – not for nothing that he performs under his given name – and when he gives voice to that realness in the best, unforced moments of this album, there's no one that can touch him.
- music label: Rawkus 2004 / 2014
reviewed by Language 05/2009