Album Reviews

T-Love – Long Way Back

(Astralwerks) UK release date: 30 September 2002

T-Love - Long Way Back It’s a long running trend that as soon as pop artists gain chart success, they immediately go in search of someone cool and credible to boost their own critical failings. Some artists, however, are innately credible right from the start, and T-Love belongs very much in the latter category.

This former music journalist from LA has a list of credits as long as your arm; she’s founded record labels (including Rumble/Pickinniny Records, which released Jurassic 5‘s debut), interviewed some of the biggest movers and shakers in hip hop (De La Soul, Xzibit, Snoop Doggy-Dog, Beastie Boys), and written a book on LA’s hip hop scene. For someone so actively empowering themselves in the music industry, you would expect her to have some well-articulated opinions, and this T-Love delivers in spades in her lyrics.

Long Way Back is music for the thinking hip hop fan – while Beyoncé sings about being independent because she buys her own shoes and clothes, T-Love talks about her own struggle for credibility, often critical of her male contemporaries: “Brothers get scared at the presence of intellect/ Making an appearance in the form of my sex” (Intellectual Proptease). She also unleashes a ferocious social commentary about poverty, street violence and exploitation. “What can I do while you play prophet, take breath God gave me?” she asks, referring to urban gun culture on Fortress (Of A Prophet).

The music itself is understated and subtly melodic – think Lauryn Hill without the choruses – creating more space for her provocative rhymes. While T-Love lacks the former Fugees singer’s natural pop sensibility, she provides an intelligent alternative to the gimmickry and posturing of mainstream hip hop. And you can be sure that whatever success she does achieve, she’ll be pulling her own strings.

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T-Love – Long Way Back