BLACK STAR

“Black Star is a rap group formed by MCs Mos Def and Talib Kweli. Affiliated with the group is DJ Hi-Tek, who formed producer/MC duo Reflection Eternal with Kweli for the album Train of Thought and produced a portion of Black Star’s debut album. (…) Black Star’s emergence into the hip-hop scene came at a crucial point in music history. Following the deaths of both Biggie Smalls and Tupac Shakur, hip-hop was consumed in a world of chaos. Black Star attempted to bring reconciliation in the wake of these violent deaths. The self titled album contains various references to Biggie and Tupac, and attempts to create reconciliation in the hip-hop world (…)” @ wikipedia

I became familiar with Black Star since I started listening to Talib Kweli, but it never grabber my attention ’till I downloaded some tracks by Mos Def and decided to listen to this album….this was 3 months ago, and ’till 2 weeks ago all I got was a lousy version with terrible bitrate. Nevertheless, this album hasn’t left my winamp the whole time, and I listen to it 3 or 4 times every week.

I know you’re all sick of the “most underrated”, “next best rapper”, “greatest of all time”, “top 5 rappers of all time” bullshit, but I have to say this: Black Star (the group and the album) has to be on Hip-Hop’s top 10. Of all shit, of all times, of whatever, you name it. And there’s no arguing about it.

The production on the album is just so diverse and at the same time has a global flow…it goes from boom bap beats very Premo-style to much more jazzy stuff, some raw street level beats…you feel Brooklyn all over the place! And there’s never an occasion when you say “wait, this doesn’t fit in”. And the lyrical delivery…man it’s just perfect. Mos switches flows like a maniac on some tracks, Talib spits faster than in any of his own albums…it’s like they were a group since the beginning of their careers.

You can tell this was an album done near the end of what was a great era for Hip-Hop…you can still feel the originality, the intensity in the words…Talib’s delivery is much more raw, like he’s freestyling on most of the beats. And the featured artists aren’t a star parade but a handful of picked up talented people, and they all bring something to the table, there’s no collabs just to sell tracks, no bullshit punchlines without fitting the context of the song…you listen to Common on “Respiration” (my favorite by the way) and you almost don’t notice it’s a feature because he just gets in the mood, keeps himself on the theme and adds his flavour without trying to “murder” the track.

If you ask any real MC (don’t confound with rapper, just listen to KRS-One and you’ll know the difference) about “favourite MC’s”, you’ll probably get Mos Def on the list, and they’ll probably make an honorable mention to Black Star…or the other way around, but you know, real recognizes real, and although this record is now 10 years old, it just got into my top 30 of all time.


BLACK STAR WIKIPEDIA

TALIB KWELI MYSPACE

MOS DEF MYSPACE

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