For purists, anything commercial is death, and though 2002's Quality hinted that a move toward a more mainstream team of producers might not be out of the question on a future release, the sight of producers like The Neptunes, Just Blaze, and Kanye West (who appeared once on Quality before he was an unstoppable force on Top 40 radio) here could be a point of contention for Kweli's more uptight contingency. However, the fact that The Beautiful Struggle marks the return of original collaborator Hi-Tek is good news for any Kweli fan-- even if he only appears on three of the album's tracks.
Meanwhile, up against harder hitting beats, Kweli plays his cards expertly: His adaptive, veteran flow serves as an unusually smart counterpoint to the glossy proclivities of his beatmakers, safeguarding him against a disaster like The Roots' Scott Storch collaboration "Don't Say Nuthin'". On "Never Been in Love", Talib's romanticism draws out a less fiery side of the typically aggressive Just Blaze. Here, behind cracking snares and wafting female intonations, Kweli lowers his political guard to wax lovely: "Jewel of the Nile so I'm romancing the stone/ The rhythm is in the words and I watched her dance to my poems."