Four years ago, rapper Talib Kweli and Philadelphia singer/songwriter Res started making music together in their spare time and leaking the results online, to the delight of both artists' fanbases. What started out as a pure experiment has morphed into an official side project – the duo now known as Idle Warship will release its first LP, Habits of the Heart, November 1st on Kweli's own Blacksmith Music imprint.
"We're just challenging ourselves to see if we can make upbeat dance music without sacrificing our artistic integrity," Kweli tells Rolling Stone. "Rat Race," produced by German beatmaker and Nneka collaborator Farhot, reflects the Idle Warship sound – a blend of electronic and R&B grooves with dashes of of rock and hip-hop, and a marked departure from both artists' solo work. "People look at me as underground hip-hop artist and at Res as a neo-soul singer," says Kweli, "but the combination of our influences is so much greater than the boxes that people put us in."
Idle Warship will kick off a series of club dates on October 8th, with a gig at the Restoration Rocks Music Festival in Brooklyn. "We have a full band – drums, bass, guitar, keys," says Res. "It's impactful, it's intense, it's genre-bending. It just feels great."
Both Kweli and Res also plan to release new solo material in 2012. Res is putting the finishing touches on her next album, Reset, and prepping the release of ReFriedMac, an EP of Fleetwood Mac covers. Kweli, meanwhile, is wrapping up work on Prisoner of Conscience, his sixth studio LP that features Mos Def, Seu Jorge, Kendrick Lamar, Curren$y and Melanie Fiona.
But the duo says that until the new year, their main focus is Idle Warship. "We did this because it's what we wanted to do, " says Kweli,"not because we had to or because I don't make any money off of underground hip-hop. Like it or hate it, we did it for the love."