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Friday Freebie: Talib Kweli’s Gutter Rainbows

Submitted by on January 21, 2011 – 2:53 pm149 Comments

Talib Kweli‘s newest project Gutter Rainbows is available on January 25 and to help celebrate, we’re giving you the chance to win one of five copies along with an autographed poster.

Growing up in Brooklyn, Kweli saw gutters that ran with dirt, oil and water, revealing a shimmering rainbow to his child’s eyes. Drawing its title from this memory, the album puts at the raw center what Kweli’s music has been doing for years: finding and preserving the beautiful in the hideous; the rainbows in the gutter.

Gutter Rainbows will only be released digitally in North America (and interestingly, in all formats for the rest of the world). With guest features from acts like Outasight and Jean Grae and production from 88-Keys, Ski Beatz and Marco Polo, Gutter Rainbows marks a new stage in the long and ever-evolving career of Talib Kweli.

To enter, answer the following question in the comments section below:

What’s your definition of gutter rainbows?

*Contest is open to US residents only. Entries Close: 12pm EST Monday January 24, 2011.

Pre-order Gutter Rainbows on iTunes here.

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  • Kelsey says:

    To me, a gutter rainbow means being able to look at the positive alongside the negative. Just because there’s a lot of drugs, racism, poverty, homelessness, and a multitude of other problems doesn’t mean there aren’t beautiful things about the world too. Seeing gutter rainbows is an ability to find the good in every situation, have hope where there is none, or believe in the potential people have to do good regardless of what happened in the past.

    Love you Talib, keep singing about the truth.

  • Zach says:

    Gutter Rainbows is the worst skittles flavor

  • Jason says:

    I am a teacher in an area of poverty. To me, A Gutter Rainbow is seeing the smile on my kids’ faces when they come to school, and then seeing the sparkle in their eyes when they learn something new. There is not another feeling like it. When you see a kid who has little or nothing gain something that didn’t cost him or her anything, that kids is a Gutter Rainbow.

  • RyanP says:

    A gutter rainbow is the ability to make something beautiful out of a situation that seems like an absolute disaster, to make something out of nothing. Every now and then, life throws these types of obstacles at all of us, whether or not we are ready to handle them. The death of a loved one, losing a job, or even little things that can pile up one after another to create a massive wall. These are all examples of life throwing us to the gutter. After that, it’s all up to you. You can stay in the gutter, and let yourself fall deeper, or you can come out strong, make a statement, show the world that nothing is going to hold you down and that you will be heard and seen. You then become the rainbow, and it’s impossible not to smile when you see a rainbow.

  • Stephanie P. says:

    Gutter rainbows.. For me it’s simply an outlook to the future. It isn’t a dream, it’s just the way we are, it’s a call to the humanity. It is not kwelis prestige, it’s an other way of sending this call through his music to all of us, to me. I think everyone has an gutter rainbow experience for him- or herself. His kind of gutter rainbow reminds me of my personal gutter rainbow, of my call and my outlook to the future. My gutter rainbow is my motivation of living and the beauty of life, which we always forget. But our personal gutter rainbow keeps us reminding.

  • Dave Whitehead says:

    Gutter rainbows to me represents the idea that we can all dream of better days no matter how bad the circumstance in which we are in may be. Most of today’s hip hop celebrates shallow material excesses. Look at my car, look at all my ho’s , I can make it rain. “like slaves on a ship talikn bout whos got the flyest chain.” These ideas simply celebrate that person’s supposed escape from poverty. No real change has occured. Real hip hop has the ability to inspire people to make something better out of their lives, not just to fantasize while remaining sedentary in our own stale existences, but to dream to become a better version of ourselves. I thank Mr. Super Kwe- for that.

  • Mike Delicce says:

    To me, a gutter rainbow is simply the title of a must have hip hop album by one of my favorite artists that I will unfortunately not be able to buy a physical copy of.

  • Justin T. says:

    A gutter rainbow is kind of like what life has hit me with right now with no job but seeing the good that will come from me pushing on to achieve what I want. Like a gutter there is nothing good about being jobless, but like a rainbow that you see from whatever has created it in the mirky nastiness of water running in the gutter, it shows you that there can be something good or inspirational in what seems like the worse. That rainbow is what makes you think of better things. It can be the inpiration that makes you change things about your life. Where everyone else sees nothing or pass it by and never pays it any attention, that rainbow is a glimpse at what good flows with the bad. Its the dude hustling just to feed his kids, its the reason you go to a job that doesn’t pay but minium wage because you know that a raise or promotion is right around the corner. Simply its the humbliness of life.

  • NikkoR says:

    To me gutter rainbows is seeing the beauty in the simple things. To see there is more than just dirt, potholes, and weary eyed people. There is something in these gutters that we all can find, but is something different for us all as well.

  • Sean Cole says:

    To me… Gutter Rainbows is an attempt at viewing the positive side of life. Viewing your particular position/lifestyle choice in a positive manner.

  • NeightB says:

    A “gutter rainbow” is beauty, talent, and intelligence spawned from an otherwise dreary and unstimulated enviornment. It’s proof that environment can not and, will not, ever dominate ambition.

  • Kristen says:

    Every morning children, the most innocent of eyes, wake up facing some kind of plague upon them — abused, neglected, forgotten. Oscar Brown Jr. says it best in Children of Children, that children ” are trapped by adults who fail them then jail them to hide the results.” The future dreams and goals upon which we promise the youth of this nation are ripped from them daily by the adults who promise them. And yet the children of this world still dream! They still believe! Because they have seen the rainbow gutters in their neighborhood. They have met the individuals who give them the secret maps to show them where to look for these jewels amongst rocks. MLK Jr. knew these places too, just listen to his Mountaintop speech. “I’ve been to the mountaintop …. and I have seen the promised land.”

    Rainbows lie in our gutters daily. They don’t exist without the crude from the oil, just like our world is not whole without the salt who are said to inherit its beauty. Just as it wouldn’t exist without the purity that is held in the water to wash away the uncleanliness. And the truth is you don’t have to be a child to recognize them. These gutter rainbows are what reminds some people to breathe and exist in triumph over the circumstances in life. Gutter Rainbows are the inexplicable four letter word that been adopted and overused in many campaigns, HOPE. Don’t view this word with its association to an illness or a person but at its core. The glimmer from these rainbows in such unrevered place instills a trust in some good, that something amazing can exist among despair.

  • John says:

    A gutter rainbow is the rose that grows from concrete, the person who no matter what happens, always keeps his head up and makes the best of what he has.

  • Tyler says:

    I think gutter rainbows are the juxtaposition of good and bad things we see everyday. In humanity we can see acts of utter terror where people kill each other but those same creatures are capable of helping those they don’t even know, emitting kindness and even able to fall so much in love with each other they would unquestioningly do anything to help those they love. When you feel like the worlds got you in the gutter you need to look for the rainbows through the dirt and the grime and let that positivity fuel you. Know that through the hate there will always be love, and even if you can’t see it you always gotta keep searching for it through everything that you are faced with.

  • Chris says:

    Gutter Rainbows. When I read the word , it reminds me of hardship, struggles, inequality,poverty and racism . Not because this is the definition , but because we should try to see the positive over the negatives . We must have hope and lend a hand to one another, instead of killing each other . It only brings more problems. In this Gutter of ours , we must rise above it like a rainbow.

  • Riki says:

    If you’re in the gutter sometimes its hard to see, but to people outside the gutter who see that you’re sitting at the end of a gutter rainbow, then its you they’ll want to be, because while the gutter is a tough place to be, the flipside pot of gold is the toughness you get spiritually and mentally.

  • Shawn Duhon says:

    ma definition would be: that its the hidden image that shines outward and across through every nation,sumhow hidden forgot’n and lost in devistation, desperation and hope unite with the truth shining bright through all the darkness reviel’n the proof,one body of all colors nothing more a sight for the eye, only God strokes a brush that can reach across the sky, inspire’n the the soul of one of our most talented artisit, to rise above any struggle and spit the truth regaurdless…and survive!

    beauty shinig bright through even the darkess of places n situations. peace, Ytruth

  • Brendan says:

    To me gutter rainbows is symbolic for not only finding beauty and the good in life amongst the bad, but also for the ability to find beauty in something that most people would be disgusted by. It brings to mind an image of having a crappy day, and going and just dropping down on a curb as the sun sets. You feel stressed out and people might walk by wondering why you’re sitting on a filthy curb. You turn your eyes down as the setting sun glitters overly bright through the windows of the surrounding buildings. A glittering pool of the street’s filth filtering into a nearby gutter catches your eye and the sun glinting off of the puddle at just the right angle makes a beautiful rainbow. You smile despite yourself and your day because of the simple beauty of a gutter rainbow. Can’t wait for the album. :)

  • KV says:

    Gutter Rainbows – like hidden gems, unexpected wonders, positivity in unlikely places, “one man’s treasure…”, inspirational moments, light in the dark, etc. Literal – beauty shining out of the gray, either perceived or real. One word: Optimism.

  • Hamida says:

    A gutter rainbow is like a day when you actually find the gold at the end of the rainbow and you realize that the pot of gold is just a metaphor for happiness. Happiness is a state of mind that you control. To manifest happiness in your life all you have to do is be.

  • Dawn says:

    It is the beauty in the ugly, the positive in the negative , and the hope in the the world’s despair. It is art from anger and pain, manifesting itself into love and eternal happiness.

  • Riley says:

    i feel that the concept of ‘guter rambows’ in a metaphorical sence i the ability to see the good factors in life when everything else is dark, or simply having an optomistic veiw on situations when things seem kind of awful, the term seems to idolize the irony in life.

  • Cameron McCluggage says:

    This life is a funeral procession of ignorance, hatred, and pain; like yin swallowing yang. It has been this way since our lives began and it will not have changed by the time we perish. But we are alive and in order to survive mentally and physically we must struggle and fight endlessly to find love and purpose in a world that offers us nothing for free. It is in this very struggle though that beauty and redemption can be found. As the olympian stands before the crowd, tears are not shed for the precious metal and fame that have been bestowed, but for the beautiful memories of pain and struggle that have led up to this crowning moment.

  • Lisa says:

    A gutterrainbow is something witnessed by those able to maintain positivity and hope in the face of all that is wrong with the world. A gutterrainbow is simply a miracle- it is the ability to perserve, to see the beauty and potential despite and around the obstacles one faces. A gutterrainbow is the sign of one who has the will and drive to succeed, while working

    A gutterrainbow is a child looking up and having the imagination to wonder, “who washes the moon?” as they travel between foster homes. A gutterrainbow is a Black man becoming president. A gutterrainbow is a woman who manages to raise a strong, healthy child. A gutterainbow is an everyday miracle, visible to those who are willing to look for it in the ugliness that surrounds them.

  • Amadeep Singh says:

    To me a gutter rainbow is a juxtaposition. A rainbow is supposed to be bight and the true essence of light. While when thinking of a gutter, you end up in a dark place. So a gutter rainbow is the illumination of an urban gutter. So when put together gutter rainbow is bring light to the dark situation. Showing that even in the worst of all situations (the gutter) something good can come out of it (the rainbow).

  • spencer says:

    Gutter rainbows is a metaphor for the ability too see the beauty in people, life and our environment that the vast majority of us overlook and take for granted. It also serves as a reminder too stay true to your path and mission in spite of all the worlds evils. You don’t have to succumb to all the negative energy that we are forced to deal with on a daily basis. Be strong and you can overcome all the trials & tribulations life throws your way. Keeping an open mind is the key that unlocks the door to true happiness and understanding.- spencer

  • Nicholas Marcum says:

    When I hear “gutter rainbows,” I think, someone is doing their best to find the good out of any situation. Life may seem a hard path to tread sometime but, when you can look past the dark and find the light that God has laid before you and make a negative be a positive influence, seems hard, however not unattainable. We must always find the “rainbows” out of any situation, whether they’re in the gutter or hiding in a dark room or in the celebration of a passing life. God puts these “gutter rainbows” all around us. We just have to be watching with eyes wide open, always looking for the good no matter what.

  • Robin Cottrell says:

    When you listen to the gospel song, THERE IS A BRIGHTER DAY AHEAD, to me that is what I think of the statement GUTTER RAINBOW, it gives hope to anything negative and it uplifts the mind out of the gutter, it gives the mind the thought of GUTTER RAINBOW can be an escape route out of the GUTTER. Usually RAINBOWS represent sunshine after the rain. So when you see a RAINBOW in a GUTTER that will automatically let you know that THERE IS A BRIGHTER DAY AHEAD, always, and when you know that for sure happy days are coming to you .♣♣♣♣

  • Es says:

    My personal take: through our struggles, at the end, it is all about finding our own sound of heart.

  • Mecca says:

    Gutter Rainbows are the rainbows any kid who lived in the ghetto saw everyday. We didn’t see rainbows in the sky. We saw the honest truth but we tried to find beauty in it. But then you grow up and you realize it was just an example about how dirty it was and how exploited you were and some of those things you found beautiful make you want to rebel against the system that put you there.

  • Edward Heard says:

    a GUTTER RAINBOW is finding the BEAUTY in the STRUGGLE. It’s makes us a PRISONER to our own CONSCIOUSNESS, because it teaches us to seek QUALITY, and in-exchange it offers us LIBERATION. the GUTTER RAINBOW inspires us to punch our ticket for the TRAIN of THOUGHT while walking to the beats of our own EAR DRUMs. the GUTTER RAINBOW shows us to look for the beauty in a cold world that spins on it’s axis increasing it’s REVOLUTIONS PER MINUTE. Only a true BLACK STAR can look in a GUTTER RAINBOW and see his and her REFLECTION ETERNAL. Life is the ultimate teacher and we will all be tested one day, but the greatest reward is being a SEEKER and STUDENT of the TRUTH. the GUTTER RAINBOW is that truth. Unadulterated.


  • Leeann says:

    Gutter Rainbows means that there is something beautiful everywhere and to always look at the positive side of things. Even in the darkest of places, beauty and goodness is there.

  • Stephen Winchell says:

    The title of “Gutter Rainbows” arouses a multifarious array of emotions and ideas but none more than the feelings of home, existentialism and light in the darkness, if you will. It seems Talib has a strong connection the rough environment of Brooklyn. As one of the harshest environments to grow up, Brooklyn created who Talib is today and made him the stronger, deeper MC. And whether it is a posotive or negative connection, I haven’t the slightest clue. However the fact that such a rough city can create a better man than the perfect first class situation is beautiful in and of itself. Thats the “Gutter Rainbows” to me. Every experience in Talib’s life has served as one more filter or polish or refinement. Few others have had the experiences of Talib so few others can ever reach his level. The other more broad view I thought of was the existential one. This idea is not mine however but more borrowed from Saul Williams and the film American Beauty. Each of these speak of the beauty in the world that few can see. How a oil stained ally in south Boston can be beautiful. A paper bag tossing in the wind can bring tears to your eye if you only stop long enough to notice it. The most beautiful spectacle I can imagine is in the rough urban areas. The streets and buildings have a story to tell. They seem personified in my eyes. Each brick has seen more than we can imagine. Each street lamp has witnessed the progression and history of its city. The cities have personality and emotion pouring out of their seams. All in all thats my stream of conciousness for “Gutter Rainbows.” Can’t wait for the new album. A sincere thank you to Talib Kweli, one of the greatest MC’s ever to live!

  • kAtak says:

    To me, coming from my perspective and where I grew up, “Gutter Rainbows” means the most vibrant colored rainbow among all rainbows. When someone grows up with everything handed to them without effort or appreciation, their rainbow is bleak and without color, how can you dream of anything when you have everything? When you grow up poor, as I did, your dreams are vivid and endless. If you have nothing, all you can do is dream, if you have everything, all you appreciate is nothing. Gutter Rainbows is, by far, a collection of wishes, prayers, and hopes of all who never had anything but appreciate all they have.

  • Sean Michael Reilley says:

    Gutter Rainbows; dreams of the ridiculous; persuasive illogical thought projecting illusions of reality; soft smooth gold sidewalks that walk for you, leading to invisible quick dropping cliffs composed of the hardest and sharpest rocks; delusional dreams that will never be fulfilled, only breaking and broken.

  • Spencer Sanchez says:

    Gutter rainbows is a metaphor for the streets. The oil on the ground on the street, on the driveways, by the gutters, where ever it may be, reflects light from the sun and creates a spectrum of colors. Thus, gutter rainbows.

  • Brian Lowery says:

    Gutter Rainbows is the sunshine and color in the midst of a dark dreary world. Simple and plain. The light that shines in the darkness. Growing up as a kid on welfare I was always looking for that brightness in a world of nothingness. When things were bad and always going wrong….I needed that light…that color. The message of Gutter Rainbows has long been portrayed in Kweli’s music. Whether in Black Girl Pain, Get By, or Around My Way. Its in the same vein as the Beautiful Struggle. Its that dollar you find on a bad day when your head is down and you are walking down the block with your head down. That eye in your storm…..

  • Marc Stiffler says:

    Gutter Rainbows: It’s a double Gutter Rainbow?!!?1 what does it mean?

  • Marc Stiffler says:

    Fire from the bottom of the bag. Straight mushroom trippin in a hole. Colorful lyrics of fury from down and out to sky high. Trust that there is a backpack full of consciousness with no nonsenseness sprinkled with greenbacked clovers, overflowing pink hearts, I’m-a-rhyme-something-with-orange stars, with Kweli standin on a yellow moon rappin universally.
    No holds pot of gold-barred poetics. Somewhere over that gutter rainbow is beats that will get you hooked like a crackhead junkie. My man Roy G. Biv is from the streets but he’s got blazin hot colors runnin through his mind, runnin down that dream.
    Might just hit you in your head til you see rainbows of your own, creating a storm drainage of wealth flowing through the city drenching everything in hip-hop freedom.

  • funkadellic spoken says:

    gutter rainbow (although the gutter can be defined as a place that you can never get out of and see success-a gutter rainbow to me is to see a positive successful future regardless of what anyone around you says)

  • Samia says:

    In their literal sense, “gutters” and “rainbows” share rainwater as their common element, though the two have different functions as a result of this basis. Gutters retrieve and carry off rainwater while rainbows result from the sun’s refraction of light caused by rain. The depressions that result in the architecture of gutters suggest that the connotation of the structure implies a negative reference, as is exemplified by popular phrases and idioms such as “get your mind out of the gutter”. However, rainbows hold an entirely different, almost opposite implication. The colorful nature of rainbows, in addition to their arched shape, parallel a path sought after, which folklore claims a pot of gold lies at its end. Figuratively, the image associates that rainbows imply a path to success: a very difficult and seemingly impossible path, but a path that reaches a recognizable achievement. Putting two and two together, the title “Gutter Rainbows” emphasizes that complexities of vivid dreams lie even within the superficial appearance of shabbiness and griminess, and this association is justified by a common element lying between the two seemingly polar opposites. It could refer to a specific example, like dreams of children growing up in the realm of a poverty-stricken village or neighborhood. On the other hand, it could also be referring to the “seeing something beyond its cover” principle. The juxtaposition of opposites was also characterized by Talib Kweli’s previous album title, “Beautiful Struggle”. My idea is that he leaves these designations purposely unspecific to play the art of trying to identify relevance within every single individual, no matter if their upbringing is rich or poor, no matter what race categorizes them. We can all see the beauty of something if we try to minimize our ignorant tendencies to pay too much attention to what lies on outer surfaces and instead see the science the inner layers working to better define a context. I believe Talib Kweli made the latter idea slither into the album like a thesis in order for the body paragraphs to be constructed based on experiences faced by all and every kind of person.

  • D. K. Simmons says:

    The term “gutter rainbows” is complex. We so often hear the phrase, ‘make it rain,’ and that phrase is associated (in the public eye and within our culture) with so many negatives for a variety of reasons. And, the association goes further because when it ‘rains,’ the belief for some is that there will be automatically be rainbows and brightness, which isn’t always the case. But, everyone can’t ‘make it rain.’ So, “gutter rainbows” means something about both self-realization and societal change to me: That all of your colors, representing the endless possibilities within yourself, can rise from the ‘gutter’; out of muck can come beauty and promise, but you have to realize that it is there within you and that it’s not a materialistic idea of yourself, that you are worth fighting for and striving for and capable of transcending despite the difficulty of it–not forgetting where you came from, but seeking knowledge, finding passions, and fulfilling your promise, as well as helping others to do the same. AND, those in our society, who have the ability to grant opportunity and make a difference have to realize that out of the “gutter” CAN come “rainbows.” When both of those things happen, maybe we can change our sensibility so that the end-game won’t be about money, or the materialistic vision of a ‘pot of gold’ at the end of the “rainbow,” but about the ‘pot of gold’ that is the ability to ‘see’ beyond surfaces to find true understanding of people and their beauty/possibilities/potential. Imagine if that happened; like a rush of water, there could be forces, ingenuity, and brilliance emerging from the “gutter” to change the world for the better.

  • Lauren says:

    When I met with Talib Kweli and he explained to me what Gutter Rainbows actually was I thought it was a very deep expression of todays oil problem and the ignorance to it by so many that are in awe of the luxury things that oil use provides. Things things are falsely represented as beautiful because of the lack of knowledge of those suffering for us to maintain our lifestyles. Originally I thought it would be a more simplistic meaning along the lines of a positive coming from a negative synonymous with “A Rose that grew from Concrete” but I understand that even the simple things can be compounded into new deeper ideas and expressions. I commend Kweli for still reaching for that deeper meaning and entertaining those of us who are bored by the basics.

    Right On Kweli!!!!!

  • Elle Jay says:

    Gutter rainbow is when you realize all the negative things that you are exposed to in your in life are not real. The only thing that is real is what you believe – about yourself and what you have lived to that point of revelation means.

    When you break free of that hell of restriction and fear – the beauty of ‘you’ is revealed.

    We are all just our souls. Let your light shine.

    Peace from Canada.

  • Gutter rainbows are…

    In a reality where one stutter lands you in the gutter,
    Its my vigure and drive that always spins like a rudder,
    Above her I shall remain,
    Cause haters and dead ends are unremovable stains,
    I could give in easily and just let it be done,
    But then again what’s life without number one?
    Where is the fun?
    Cause its all about the gutter to define you when its all done,
    But what gets me through it to conquer my foes,
    Is to see the flower of how I rose,
    That’s right its the gutter rainbows!

  • Ernesto says:

    Gutter rainbows is when even the things that appear to be the ugliest with a naked eye have beauty inside them and are more profound than what appears.

    Keep the dopeness coming Kweli.

  • Yvette Rodriguez says:

    There is no beauty without strangeness.

  • Roland says:

    A gutter rainbow is the beauty some people see in things that most others don’t see. For example the potential Cus D’amato saw in Mike Tyson while most at the time only saw a trouble maker. The graffiti art on walls, billboards, and trains are gutter rainbows. The urban poetry that people display in cyphers is easily overlooked by a lot of people but it is art aka gutter rainbows.

  • Aidan says:

    Gutter rainbows are things that show you that even during the bad times, there are little pieces of goodness and happiness. Even when you have no good ingredients- a dirty gutter and an old car dripping gas- it can combine to form beauty.

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