Review ·

Brooklyn's Talib Kweli, perhaps best known as Mos Def�s other half in Black Star, has not had much trouble maintaining his indie cred despite his flirtation with the mainstream (check 2003's "Get By"). But to prop up his third proper full-length, The Beautiful Struggle released in September on Rawkus, Kweli coyly slid out The Beautiful Mixtape as a precursor. This compilation is speckled with splendid guest appearances and invigorating samples, especially the grab of the Beatles's "Eleanor Rigby," which got this pulled from the shelves.

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If you're lucky enough to get a copy, you won�t be let down. Old friend Dave Chappelle is back doing his best Rick James impersonation to open the mix, and three great hip-hop minds -- Common, Kanye West and Consequence -- back up Kweli on "Wack Niggas." Jean Grae, hip hop's Randy Johnson, puts another notch in her belt with her guest spot on "Phoenix," laying down each line succinctly and uniquely.

Kweli makes the mixtape�s purpose -- hyping the full-length -- apparent. In the midst of an exciting "Walk Wit' Me," Kweli references the album's release date and encourages everyone to buy it, breaking new ground for tackiness during an otherwise rousing collection. Still, it�s the perfect appetizer for the album, fattening you up with some great tracks while keeping an eye of the prize the entire time. Some of the guests may be a little heavy and the segues leave a bit to be desired, but this will remain an essential mixtape.

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