Brooklyn mc Talib Kweli and North Carolina producer 9th Wonder both came up in the late 90s / early 2000s independent hip-hop movement. Talib came earlier under the Rawkus Records banner — alongside Mos Def and DJ Hi-Tek — and 9th Wonder a few years later as a part of rap trio Little Brother, in collaboration with Phonte Coleman and Big Pooh. Both career paths found the artists using the internet to grow and maintain their respective fan bases when the major labels took little or no interest in them. Yet those same labels came around later. Both artists were validated in the mainstream on Jay Z’s The Black Album in 2003. Jay gave a shout out to Talib Kweli on “Moment of Clarity,” while 9th would produce the track “Threat”. Talib would later collaborate with Kanye West regularly, while 9th would go on to produce “Girl” for Beyoncé, not to mention have his artist Rapsody be invited to collaborate on Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly LP. The independent grind had proven to pay off for both of them in many ways.
Both Talib Kweli and 9th Wonder now run their own indie labels, Javotti and Jamla, respectively, and together have launched the new Indie 500 collective. The time has finally come and we all can celebrate the release of the debut album. The record is a celebration of the independent spirit, with many of the movement’s finest artists collaborating on it, including Pharoahe Monch, Rapsody,Add 2, Slug of Atmosphere, Brother Ali, Hi-Tek, Problem, NIKO IS just to name a few.