September 29, 2016

Mos Def & Kweli Are Black Star (CMJ, 1998)

"Mos Def and Talib Kweli have made a record to deliver listeners from the tyranny of the Native Tongues posse's new generation. Def and Kweli follow a grassroots approach to lyrical execution here, incorporating a radiant burst of Afro-centric positivity that floats around tight, bouncy rhymes that jab like Muhammad Ali in his prime. Even though Black Star generously borrow hooks from the hip-hop heroes they grew up on like BDP and Slick Rick, these shoplifting tactics are more faithful odes rather than get-money reconstructions, shaped from the imagination of a couple of kids who've been eating, drinking and smoking hip-hop their whole lives. This is an hour-long manifesto made for the sheer love of the craft, a record that will make you realize why the hell you dropped eight bucks on your first rap tape back in the day." (CMJ New Music Report, 11/98). Reflecting back on the album, CMJ added months later, "Mos Def and Talib Kweli truly are the best alliance in hip-hop," with Mos's stylized grainy delivery as yang to the smart, spoken words of Kweli's yin. With a sense of self-determination, the hands of DJ Hi-Tek and the dope single, "Definition," Black Star mapped out hip-hop's future against the template of its past." (CMJ New Music Report, 1/99). With bars like, "At exactly which point do you start to realize / That (life without knowledge is death in disguise?) That's why, knowledge of self is like life after death / Apply it, to your life, let destiny manifest..." Mos Def & Talib Kweli delivered a timeless classic. Check out "Definition" below.