Generally favorable reviews - based on 19 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 11 out of 19
  2. Negative: 2 out of 19
  1. 90
    It is Kweli's diligently intelligent worldview, dextrous wordplay and often breathtaking flow that enrapture. [Jan 2005, p.96]
  2. So if some of the songs sound a little too catchy, it’s because they’re supposed to. Kweli’s trying to draw you in for something important.
  3. 83
    While [Quality] cautiously courted the mainstream, he's made mass appeal Job No. 1 of late. [Oct 2004, p.112]
  4. While he's still the 21st century's answer to KRS-One, a rapper who is simultaneously intelligent and engaging, he needs to work with producers who are capable of sharing that vision with the masses in an equally engaging way. At times "The Beautiful Struggle" achieves this perfection combination, and at other times you're left loving the lyrics but lacking in headnodding dopeness.
  5. On The Beautiful Struggle, Kweli is savvy enough to play the rap industry's rigged game without sacrificing his soul or compromising his integrity.
  6. What frustrates about The Beautiful Struggle is that its flaws are purely musical: Kweli remains the fist-raising visionary who burned "The Manifesto" at the Lyricist Lounge with the same fiery pen that blazed "African Lounge".
  7. Sometimes the messages get as heavy as the sharp, thumping tracks, but a few jokes and guest spots... help lighten the enlightenment. [1 Oct 2004, p.73]
  8. 70
    There's little unity of sound, but more than enough passion and unity of purpose. [Oct 2004, p.125]
  9. 70
    Well-crafted... offers a continuation of Quality's attempt to expand rap's topical terrain. [Oct 2004, p.185]
  10. "I Try," featuring Blige and produced by Kanye West, comes off as trying too hard to re-create Kweli's "Quality" hit, "Get By." The album works best when it goes with the flow.
  11. Between the hooks, he's as earnest as ever, but now he's dressed to party.
  12. It misses a little more than it hits.
  13. He remains, ultimately, doom-laden. [Nov 2004, p.125]
  14. Kweli's default musical setting is that dreary soul-jazz hybrid that seems to come as standard with every socially conscious rapper, presumably in the belief that if the music bores the listener rigid, they will be forced to concentrate on the lyrics.
  15. Sad that we have to talk about a member of Black Star making an album without a guiding ideal, dull production, and bad lyrics.
  16. Has many soaring moments and just as many ill-fated collisions.
  17. Is cumbersome when it seems self-conscious, and works well when it seems effortless, when Talib ceases overcompensating with overproduction, diva guest spots, or repetitive political invective.
  18. Unfortunately, while Kweli’s message is spot-on, his delivery of that message is highly flawed.
  19. Kweli's generic sounds belie the so-called revolutionary front of his lyrics.
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 23 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 9 out of 12
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 12
  3. Negative: 3 out of 12
  1. EmahunnC
    Dec 12, 2004
    How can you say that this album is not great! I feel that people have lost the essence of hip hop. The artist that come out now are horrible. They have these beats save their careers. You should give all of the hip hop awards to the producers if everyone wants to talk about beats. Kweli is the best emcee out right now because he sees the reality of the world. It is not about "ice" or "whips", it is about the issues that the world is facing. Furthermore, he may have made songs that may sound like they belong in the club, however, Kweli did not compromise his lyrics one bit on this album. This is a 10 plus 20. Full Review »
  2. VinceH
    Oct 22, 2004
    I agree with the general consensus. Awesome lyrics as usual (with as wide a range of subjects as any album this year) and Kweli's flow is still one of the best in the biz. Now while this album is certainly better than Mos Def's scattershot new album, the production is just plain lame. You cannot deny that. Except for 3 or 4 songs, the beats here are way below the standard of even the worst on Quality and Hi-Tek shows that he has perhaps been hanging around Snoop Dogg too much because he has a beat here that sounds like Fred Wreck on his worst day. Overall some good songs and very good lyrics/rapping, but wack beats. Full Review »
  3. Freeman
    Jan 28, 2005
    What a waste, I have been looking forward to this since "Quality" and am sorely disapointed with this over produced, try-hard pice of political posturing. Terrible compared to his previous efforts. Full Review »