21 questions

Talib Kweli Has a Ron Swanson Bust

Photo: Matthew Eisman/Getty Images

Name: Talib Kweli
37? I might be 38, I should figure that out. I was born on October 3, 1975.
Clinton Hill and Studio City
Musician. His album Gravitas is out now, and you can get it both physically and digitally at his new web platform www.kweliclub.com. Tonight he’ll be performing at the UCB hip-hop comedy show “Take It Personal,” and on Sunday, March 23, you can catch him at NY Loves Dilla, a tribute concert to the Grammy-winning producer.

Who’s your favorite New Yorker, living or dead, real or fictional?
Jean Grae. As an artist, as a person, her personality, who she is — she just epitomizes the city for me.

What’s the best meal you’ve eaten in New York?
My grandma’s biscuits. (She puts a lot of butter on them.)

In one sentence, what do you actually do all day in your job?
Create. Wait, can I change my answer? Interviews.

What was your first job in New York?
I was a summer camp counselor at the Medgar Evers College summer camp program. I did nothing, just looked at girls. I was 14.

What’s the last thing you saw on Broadway?
Book of Mormon.  Loved it. I’ve never seen anything like it. It blew my mind.

Do you give money to panhandlers?
At times. I’ve been known to on occasion.

What’s your drink?
Whiskey, two fingers, two rocks. I’ll have the go-to that every bar has, Jameson. But I like a Lagavulin, I like Macallan 12. [If I were to treat myself] I’d do a Johnnie Blue.

How often do you prepare your own meals?
Hardly ever. I can — if there was a zombie apocalypse and my kids need to eat, I can whip something up.

What’s your favorite medication?

What is the best thing in or about your apartment?
My copper Ron Swanson bust. You know, at Christmastime sometimes I go places like Urban Outfitters that have a bunch of different things, and I buy a bunch of things because I always know that there’s gonna be someone I forgot to buy a present for. I picked up this Ron Swanson bust, but when I got home, I realized that no one deserves it more than I do. I keep it on top of my speaker.

What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever seen on the subway?
LL Cool J. He was sitting there, he had his one pant leg rolled up. My friend JuJu — I was on the train with him, was like, “He was looking at me like he had a problem with me, I don’t know why LL don’t like me.” That was years ago, I was a teenager.

When was the last time you stayed out past 3 a.m.?
The question would be when was the last time I didn’t. I’m a big fan of siestas. That’s a petition that we should get 100,000 signatures and force Obama to look at. I’m telling you man, people sleep on naps. No pun intended.

Which do you prefer, the old Times Square or the new Times Square?
The old Times Square.  We still have debauchery. I would just prefer if we’re gonna be debaucherous, be on Front Street. But that just might be my nostalgia talking. It might really be better for the city the way it is now.

What do you think of Mayor de Blasio?
I’ve heard that he’s a fan of mine, and I’ve heard that he’s from Park Slope. He’s done a couple of interviews where he says he wants to meet me. So, you know, my ego likes him.

What do you hate most about living in New York?
Rats. I just don’t like having to see them. And I don’t like when I tell people, “Oh yeah, New York, we see rats all the time!” and they seem horrified. It makes me feel like I live in a horrible, horrible place.

If you could banish one person from New York forever, who would it be?
Donald Trump. He’s just somebody who exemplifies the worst of the city. He’s New York City at its worst.

When’s the last time you drove a car?
Three or four years ago. I don’t have a license, but I know how. I used to steal my father’s car and take it out and go places. I took a driver’s test and everything, I just failed it and I was like, “I don’t need the license, I live in New York.”

Finish this sentence: The NYPD _____.
Serves and protects property values very well.

Times, Post, or Daily News?
That’s like fight, fuck, or kill, right? I think the Times is the least of those three evils. (I get my news from The Daily Show.)

Where do you go to be alone?
Puerto Rico. Rincon Beach. It’s about a three hour drive from San Juan.

What makes someone a New Yorker?
Attitude and experience.

Talib Kweli 21 Questions