Generally favorable reviews - based on 17 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 12 out of 17
  2. Negative: 0 out of 17
  1. May 8, 2013
    This is certainly his most sonically diverse album ever.
  2. May 6, 2013
    More than any of his previous albums, Prisoner of Conscious is the sound of Kweli performing art for art's sake, hip-hop for the sake of hip-hop, with hardly a homily to be found.
  3. Jul 2, 2013
    Despite everything he did right on this album, there are a few blemishes. [Jul 2013, p.88]
  4. May 24, 2013
    The standout beats have some old-school crackle and POC is most interesting when Kweli can relax and just, you know, be brilliant.
  5. May 16, 2013
    On Prisoner of Conscious Kweli once again is working against that way of thinking by adopting unlikely styles, expanding his musical palette and collaborating with folks that people might not expect him to.
  6. May 13, 2013
    At the heart of all is Talib Kweli’s impressively nimble rapping, with its rat-a-tat cadence and intricate rhyme-play.... But this album also falls prey to facile cosmopolitanism.
  7. May 9, 2013
    A few forgettable collaborations and sing-by-number hooks aside (the usually spirited Seu Jorge sounds especially enervated on “Favela Love,” which languishes until a jaunty guitar riff revives it well after the four-minute mark), many of the guest verses on the record pleasantly surprise.
  8. May 7, 2013
    His ability to craft and tell stories in a captivating way has not gone unnoticed, and while Prisoner Of Conscious will not go down as his best album, it does display how versatile of an artist he is.
  9. May 6, 2013
    The off-topic and amazing "Hamster Wheel" is here, and when that's added to all the other highlights, the album is well above worthwhile, as scattershot and frustrating as it is.
  10. May 6, 2013
    This isn’t a concept, or a wild divergence from his earlier work. Rather it’s a bigger push musically and collaboratively with less emphasis on the politics that have dominated his past.
  11. Jun 11, 2013
    POC is a step above his worst material and a far cry from his glory days.
  12. May 6, 2013
    Prisoner is marred by weak analogies (“colder than Minnesota,” “buzz like Georgia Tech) and Kweli’s bumpy writerliness (“ornithology” and “onomatopoeia” are just two less-than-melodious words used here), leading this to be his most underwhelming record yet word-for-word.
  13. May 13, 2013
    He seems content to occupy the same '90s underground niche he's always done. [Jun 2013, p.90]
  14. May 10, 2013
    For all of its powerful lyricism, Prisoner Of Conscious is not a particularly dynamic listen.
  15. Aug 9, 2013
    It’s not sanctimony that drags the album down so much as lack of focus, both lyrical and aesthetic. Coursing between the ham-fisted message-moments is a nimble and reliably engaging display of verbal dexterity.
  16. 50
    Instead of updating his sound and style for a contemporary audience, Prisoner of Conscious comes off as a series of half measures.
  17. May 20, 2013
    Dogged by sub-standard productions and uneasy alliances, it's left to the RZA and Madlib's younger brother Oh No to partially save his bacon. [Jun 2013, p.89]
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 10 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 3 out of 3
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 3
  3. Negative: 0 out of 3
  1. Jun 18, 2013
    Talib Kweil is a great rapper, especially with regard to the alternative genre. After the good work with Gutter Rainbows, Talib Kweil releases Prisoner of Concious, a sufficient album but with anything new. Full Review »
  2. May 7, 2013
    Im such a HUGE kweli fan I would expect 2 years between albums would provide a great release. With this album he clearly is coming out with a message. Which I can appriciate as he mostly a conscious lyricist. However, the album on a whole is not spectacular. There isn't really a song that is catchy or one I would keep in my collection. That is not to say his rhyming has fallen off, but this is a lesser album than Gutter Rainbows and certainly Eardrum. Full Review »
  3. May 7, 2013
    Another solid release from Talib Kweli. Each song has good bars and a good message. While not the best album of the year, it is good to see a legend continue to go strong in 2013. Full Review »