It’s been ten years Hi Tek and Kweli officially connected as Reflection Eternal. I remember seeing the video for the first single “Back Again” and really wasn’t feeling it all. It felt more like something Kweli would have done on his solo outings produced by Tek, but then I heard “Lifting Up” somewhere and really thought I need to get this album. First out it feels like Tek has stepped it up beat wise to me. I mean he (Hi Tek) got his DJ Premier on, meaning he upgraded his sound that he was putting down on his albums producing for other artists. The beats many times outshine Kweli completely as to me he seem to have got stuck in one lane topic wise and rarely stepped out of it. Some of the verses start off the same way to me on many of these tracks.
I love the intro “RPM” more for the history lesson and the fact that “a shift in the paradigm of music” was addressed. Then once “City Playgrounds” come in it becomes evident this will be a Hip Hop album. It’s good that this is the first real track on the album because Kweli kills all three verses. There are many songs that just aren’t as strong like “Back Again”. I mean it’s not that it’s a bad song it just doesn’t fit the group album, like I said a Kweli solo album would have been a better fit. Then there is “Strange” where beat wise it sounds different but still fits, but it’s Kweli coming off completely wrong. The highlight of course is the guest Bun B. who seems to have gone the activist route a bit more than Kweli on the song. Not sure why they chose to go the speed rapping angle when they could have killed the beats just flowing. Speaking of guest J. Coles and Jay Electronica show up and out shine the host and fellow Black Star member Mos Def. Being honest I listen Kweli verse on “Just Begun” only because he’s first, but I skip pass Mos who has the last verse. It’s not that the verse is bad but it is when compared to how J. Coles killed it before he comes in. Outside of Bun B., Jay Elect and J. Coles the other guess are singers and that is so hit or miss, missing more than hitting. “Ends” is ok simply because it comes in and goes without you even really noticing it all. “Get Loose” is just odd as hell, I understand trying something different but this song sucks. But what really sucks is “Midnight Hour” which sounds like Kweli, Tek and Estelle tapped into their secret mutual guilty pleasure of wanting make a song like Black Eye Peas. I really did think some how Black Eye Peas music got on my computer. The one song that made me have to get this album was “Lifting Up”. Now that I’ve heard it in rotation with the other songs it’s not as ill. One reason is because like I said it seems Kweli is saying some of the same things on all the tracks. A highlight however is “Balled Of The Black Gold”. Kweli really seems like he stepped his game up for that one song. I mean he seem so focus on the verses especially the second verse addressing what popped of in Nigeria. What ends the album is “My Life” where Kweli examines his life over the last ten years. The song is a suitable way to go out with a nice reflection of a man who has tasted commercial success a bit here and there, both men have to be honest.
Minutes Per Minute isn’t as ill as Train Of Thought but is better than much of what is out there right now. Production wise you see Hi Tek has gotten the sound he has been working on down. Kweli hasn’t made that many changes but has stepped up his willingness to experiment with different concepts. This is one of the few Hip Hop albums that do address real issues we all go through as humans in the world. To me any artists that are still speaking of life and living in today’s world is always worth a listen.