Veteran hip-hop artist Talib Kweli and Philadelphia singer and songwriter Res have been collaborating on each other's albums for about a decade, but now the two have finally made it official with their new band, Idle Warship. The duo gave us the scoop on their genre-hopscotching sound, their debut album Habits of the Heart, and why it's fun to break the music rules.
You guys have known each other for a while. why did you decide to make a full-length album now?
Talib- We've been making music together for a long time. About half the songs on the album are from us just kind of playing around with stuff that we thought was good. We would talk to people about Idle Warship's sound and they wouldn't know what we were talking about, so we decided to make an album to show them.
Res- I met Talib when I was 19 or 20, and we ended up collaborating. We'd done so much together on our solo projects that it just felt natural to make a record together.
How is Idle Warship different from your other stuff?
Talib- It was our goal to make a different type of sound than we'd done before. We wanted to break away from the system because we felt like we were getting boxed in as artists. We wanted to get control of our music and our sound and just take the bull by the horns, you know?
Res- My solo music is more diverse than just hip-hop; it's more alternative and eclectic. It was nice to do a true collaboration that merged the two in a way.
What's the story behind the name?
Talib- The name started out as a play on the term "idol worship" of celebrities. It's about being stuck in the way of having a lot of creative ideas, but nothing ever really comes of it. Things have to be boxed in for magazines or labels to pay attention, but this is outside of a pre-determined genre.
How would you describe your style on stage?
Talib- In my solo career I like to wear clothes that people can relate to. I might wear exclusive stuff, but it's still got a hip-hop aesthetic. With Idle Warship it's different because I want something that you might not think about wearing or have access to. I step out of myself and create a type of character.
Res- I'm the girl in the group so I feel like I need to rep the ladies. My style is very feminine and very flirty. I wear more dresses when I perform in Idle Warship, so my look has definitely evolved.