The place to find and share independent music. From hip-hop to pop, dubstep to drum n bass; Beatnik is your filter.
Mos Def and Talib Kweli are
Blackstar’s 1998 debut is still relevant, thought-provoking, and, above all, dope.
In 1999, a family friend from New York brought me what his son thought to be the best hip-hop around at the time. I was given Mos Def and Talib Kweli’s debut album together as Blackstar and Aquemeni by Outkast, a perfect blend of the underground New York rap I would come to love, and the very best of mainstream hip-hop. It’s a stupidly close call – both albums still define how I like my music served—but Blackstar’s album edges out on top.
The reason I haven’t said anything specifically about the album is because I know this review can’t do it justice. The production, which is mostly by Hi-Tek, but also by other late-90’s up-and-comers like 88 Keys, is varied but sonically coherent; mashing tracks like ’Definition’ or ’B Boys Will B Boys’ share their sample- and break-based sound with slower and more soulful tracks like ’Respiration’ (ft. Common), ’Brown Skin Lady’ and ’Thieves in the Night’. In terms of vocals… what can I say? Kweli and Mos Def are a latter day Tip and Phife, with songs like the opening ’Astronomy (8th Light)’ containing the kind of back-and-forth flow that can only be captured in one take. Mos’s abstract and sung style competes for attention with Kweli’s pin-pointed lyricism.
While keeping a thematical back bone of black identity and the soul of the inner-city (or lack thereof) – the latter beautifully captured on ’Respiration’ and ’Thieves in the Night’ – the album also contains a few battle-rap bangers in ’Hater Players’ and ’Twice Inna Lifetime’. Blackstar’s 1998 debut is still relevant, thought-provoking, and above all, dope.
words Sven Carlsson
Buy Mos Def & Talib Kweli are Blackstar