For fans of: Common, The Roots, De La Soul
Thursday, March 4, 2010
This is yet another milestone in awesome collaborations. In the late 1990s, socially aware hip hop once again began to rise from the underground where it had been shoved by gangsta rap, Mos Def and Talib Kweli came together and recorded what is now a seminal staple in hip hop culture. Originally planning to release two solo records, the two artists became aware of the artistic spark between them and chose instead to work on a collaborative effort. The result was Mos Def and Talib Kweli Are Black Star, a record that used songs like "Astronomy (8th Wonder)" to give the word "black" a positive connotation. "Definition" and "Re: DEFinition" responds to the fact that hip hop at that time (and still today) seemed to constantly dwell on the subject of death with the recent shootings of The Notorious B.I.G. and Tupac Shakur and their choruses proclaim, "One two three/Mos Def and Talib Kweli/We came to rock it on to the tip-top/Best alliance in hip-hop, Y-O/I said, one two three/It's kind of dangerous to be an emcee/They shot Tupac and Biggie/Too much violence in hip-hop, Y-O." Seasoned hip hop fans will appreciate the track "Children's Story," a nod to Slick Rick's song of the same name with a message about hip hop hubris. The most poignant track, however, is "Thieves in the Night," inspired by Talib Kweli having read Toni Morrison's "The Bluest Eye" in high school. They said best alliance in hip hop, and they meant it. You know what to do.