Generally favorable reviews - based on 21 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 14 out of 21
  2. Negative: 0 out of 21
  1. Feb 2, 2011
    Despite limp production, Kweli is often a great presence here, and fans certainly won't be disappointed.
  2. Jan 27, 2011
    In short, it's familiar without feeling rote.
  3. Q Magazine
    Apr 6, 2011
    Though the symphonic funk samples that power his free-flowing wordplay sound as if they could do with an upgrade. [Apr 2011, p.95]
  4. Feb 3, 2011
    Gutter Rainbows is unabashed conscious-rap classicism, with a luscious, string-swamped soul sound and rhymes that tout the MC's left-of-center cred.
  5. Under The Radar
    Mar 9, 2011
    With production by Ski Beatz (among others), Kweli has rarely sounded so soulful and so immediate. [Feb 2011, p.74]
  6. Jan 27, 2011
    The production (from Ski Beatz, 88-Keys, others) adds florid, melodramatic choruses to jazzy boom-bap tracks, blunting the impact of Kweli's dogged street intellectualism.
  7. 70
    In that right, Gutter Rainbows is the ultimate success. However, in terms of accessibility, he's done better work, and this release will probably just go down as a good, but not a great Talib Kweli album.
  8. Feb 18, 2011
    Like it not, Talib Kweli's place in hip hop has become something like Yo La Tengo's place in indie rock-a solid, moderately predictable journeyman who serves the musically leftish center with skill and charm, even if the frontier is now situated elsewhere.
  9. Jan 31, 2011
    Kweli still has an ear for beats, and despite some particular low points here, his lyrics were always overshadowed by his flow, which is as sharp as ever.
  10. Feb 17, 2011
    Gutter Rainbows instead hovers between a mainstream and an indie vibe, embracing neither and potentially isolating both audiences.
  11. Jan 27, 2011
    This is an odd thing to say, given the dumbness of so many contemporary rap songs--is that Kweli tries to cram too much awareness into his lines at the expense of rhymes and flow. But trying a little too hard to find enlightenment can be forgiven when it comes from within a genre that often tips bravado ahead of insight.
  12. Feb 7, 2011
    There's a lot of rappity-rap cliches at work here: overwrought punchlines, vague disses, bitching about the industry. Kweli spends a good chunk of the album acting like a drunk, unemployed superhero, stumbling into supermarkets to aid old ladies whose purses are fully in their possession.
  13. Jan 27, 2011
    Accordingly, Gutter Rainbows too often feels like an unfulfilled promise--an excess of concrete and not enough vibrancy.
  14. Jan 27, 2011
    Talib seems to be coasting just a bit on this cut-and-paste session. As in, from a pure musical standpoint, outside of a few of repeat-worthy tracks, Gutter Rainbows, is no cure for your current cabin fever.
  15. Rainbows may well be the best thing Kweli has done since Quality.
  16. Gutter Rainbows may be the most accessible and varied album in his discography.
  17. Jan 27, 2011
    Kweli blends a gritty outlook with a genuine interest in social issues to create an album that sounds refreshingly idealistic in a world still reeling from Kanye West's bombastic record.
  18. Feb 8, 2011
    Talib Kweli keeps the level of discourse high throughout Gutter Rainbows, and it should come as a surprise that some references he makes will go right over your head (props if you knew who knew Yohji Yamamoto was or what the Bhagavad Gita is).
  19. Jan 27, 2011
    Gutter Rainbows is a fairly easy spin, and can go into the listener's steady rotation in a pinch. That being said, this feels a bit like a subdued version of Eardrum.
  20. Aug 4, 2011
    The best moments on Gutter Rainbows actually come when Kweli pushes the hardest unto uncharted territory.
  21. Feb 4, 2011
    Gutter Rainbows may not be promoted heavily due to its independent release, but it should be rotated heavily in our MP3's, it's a definite win for the listener/consumer.
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 13 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 11 out of 13
  2. Negative: 0 out of 13
  1. Feb 3, 2011
    Always the lyrical soldier who fails to forget who he is and where he comes from. Prepare to be astonished and inspired by an onslaught ofAlways the lyrical soldier who fails to forget who he is and where he comes from. Prepare to be astonished and inspired by an onslaught of spiritual hip-hop that though never aimed at the mainstream is unavoidably likeable. The beats are crafted with emphasis on impact and differ in style which helps to reinforce Kweli's uniqueness. He is a social leader of men (and women), someone whose spirituality transcends the genre that pigeonholes him, and worthy of recognition as Earth's finest rapper. The only way this album loses marks is because Talib's angle is typical and could be exposed as unoriginal, but that is as much a strength as it is a weakness. 92/100 Full Review »