Black Star
Black Star


5.0
classic

Review

by Justin Taslak USER (30 Reviews)
July 28th, 2008 | 96 replies | 23,915 views


Release Date: 1998 | Tracklist

Review Summary: [i]One two three Mos Def and Talib Kweli We came to rock it on to the tip-top Best alliance in hip-hop[/i]

12 of 12 thought this review was well written

Mos Def and Talib Kweli are Black Star

“We feel that we have a responsibility to, shine a light, into the darkness.”
-Black Star

There is no introduction more fitting than this to Mos Def and Talib Kweli’s collaborative effort Black Star. With the rap world suffering from the deaths of its two biggest stars, Tupac Shakur and Biggie Smalls, the Brooklyn MCs took time off from solo efforts to record one of the greatest hip-hop albums of the 1990’s. Complete with heartfelt lyrics, eclectic beats, and rhyming prowess, they paint their masterpiece for the ears and mind alike.

It is important to note that Mos Def and Talib were up and coming during this release, which makes the magnitude of the release so much greater. Neither had released a full-length album. They immediately proved to be well read and thought, referencing and quoting the likes of Morrison and Rostand, while addressing issues such as violence in hip-hop and the unnecessary necessity of being beautiful in the eyes of the media. The duo also expressed the importance of being an MC; it isn’t about the money, it’s about being influential and helping people through the toughest of times as role models. They manage to frequently attack mainstream hip-hop without coming across nasty (well, in every song except one), in fact, they do so calm and collectedly.


“Yo, I'm sure that everbody out listenin agree
That everything you see ain't really how it be
A lot of jokers out runnin in place, chasin the style
Be a lot goin on beneath the empty smile
Most cats in my area be lovin the hysteria
Synthesized surface conceals the interior
America, land of opportunity, mirages and camoflauges
More than usually -- speakin loudly, sayin nothin
You confusin me, you losin me”
-Mos Def, Thieves in the Night

Rapping is the key component of hip-hop, and is synonymous with poetry. Superb poetry is guaranteed to contain some sort of message at the very least. This is superb rapping. In some songs here the message is better hidden than in others, but producer Hi-Tek does a masterful job of making these MCs’ voices crisp and clear without making the record sound one bit glossy. I never had trouble comprehending the words out of the rappers mouths. The beats are relaxing at best, but that’s all they have to be to make this record highly enjoyable. And heck, tracks like Children’s Story are far more exciting than anything I’ve heard on the radio recently anyways. Reminiscing the glory days of hip-hop through a bedtime story, this song stands for the purpose of the entire album; to bring rap back to life.

The chemistry between Talib and Mos Def is without a doubt the most exceptional I have heard between two rappers. Whether they are passing lead MC back and forth or harmonizing mid-song, they work wonders. It never feels monotonous due to their differing vocal styles. Their childhood friendship pays off here, and it’s wonderful that neither has become too cocky about or wrapped up in his solo career.

It is really hard for me to find any weak spots on this album, because it’s a nearly flawless recording. I guess if one had to get picky they could argue that there are only eleven full tracks, but this makes it easier to listen through as well as to pay attention to individual tracks. Some may also find the track B Boys Will B Boys too crazy and old-school to be taken as seriously as the rest of the album.

I honestly didn’t think I would enjoy this as much as I did. I’m a huge fan of Mos Def and Talib Kweli, but this is truly the best of both MCs. It may lack the raw emotion of classics such as Illmatic or the later The Marshall Mathers LP, but Black Star deservingly belongs amongst the greatest rap albums of all time. As influential as it is enjoyable, I recommend that everyone refrain from being hater players and go out and buy this now, as well as look into underground rap in general. To conclude this review, here’s another little snippet from Black Star, kicking some mainstream ***.

“I'm sick of the hater-players, bring on the regulators
With the flavors like a farm team ******* with the majors
Like a river how I run through it, I do it so cold
Freezin up your bodily fluids, your style is old
You runnin your mouth, but don't really know what you be talkin about
You should retire, get that complimentary watch, be out!
Yo, with the quickness, so swift you miss this lyrical fitness
Now get this, these emcees wanna test me like litmus, bear witness
I'm like shot clocks, interstate cops, and blood clots
My point is, your flow can stop!
By all means, you need more practice, take that *** home
Everybody lookin at you, fish tank syndrome!”
-Talib Kweli, Hater Players

Pros:
Top-notch rhyming and lyricism
Refreshing and relaxing beats
All killer, no filler (well, two filler tracks, but a much needed break from rap albums with 20 tracks, half of which are ****)
Hi-Tek’s production

Cons:
You can’t get low to this one, but does anyone really care?

Recommended Tracks:
Everything except Yo Yeah and B Boys Will B Boys, but those are by no means poor

Score: 5/5



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Comments:Add a Comment 
bustyagunz
July 28th 2008



911 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

damn, the italics at the top didnt work out
well, i was tempted to go into detail about a lot of the songs, but i think its best that everyone just go check this out
i was fixed on giving this a 4.5, but during the writing of this review the album grew on me even more.

MassiveAttack
July 28th 2008



2684 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

boo i was going to review this gj though I give it a 4.5//5 used to listen to this a lot in high school

bustyagunz
July 28th 2008



911 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

ah **** thats the second time ive done that to you
im gonna be sticking to hardxxxcore metal grrr for the next few reviews though so i prolly wont take anything else from you
yea, i really thought it was but i just couldnt stop listening to anything and everything off of this.

MassiveAttack
July 28th 2008



2684 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

well i'm not into hardcore metal the closest thing to that for me is either RATM, Metallica, or Faith No More lol so ty

StreetlightRock
Emeritus
July 28th 2008



3752 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

goooood album, nice to see a review for it.

Digging: The Pains of Being Pure at Heart - Days Of Abandon

username345
July 28th 2008



594 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

'Tis a decent album.

Iai
Emeritus
July 28th 2008



3553 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Yeah, nice to see this finally reviewed.

brandtweathers
July 28th 2008



2009 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

very nice.
got my vote of approval

bustyagunz
July 28th 2008



911 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

thanks brand,
yea, i dont know why nobody had reviewed this before. while not everyone believes it to be classic, i think there is a universal agreement that this is a damn good album.

Tyler
Emeritus
July 28th 2008



7924 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

One day I'll think it's perfect, the next not so much. But I love it, best thing Talib has ever done and tied with Black on Both Sides for the best thing Mos Def's ever done. I have no idea why these cats fell off so much.

bustyagunz
July 28th 2008



911 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

i think hollywood got to mos' head, being an actor and what not. dunno about talib, i enjoy his new stuff a bit more (than mos' new stuff).This Message Edited On 07.28.08

JAV
July 29th 2008



1883 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This is an excellent cd. Nice review as well.

666andamicinmyhand
July 31st 2008



7 Comments


Love this album.

kingsoby1
Emeritus
August 4th 2008



4830 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

It's good that people are trying to review hiphop on this site... in a largely metal/ hipster rock community. But, to be honest, this review doesn't really tell me much besides:
a) The lyrical content is interesting
b) It's a good album

I want to hear about the flow and style of mos and talib. It's good that you caught on to their chemistry a bit, but there are technical aspects of the music that you can talk about as well. In hip-hop, these things aren't generally acknowledged as much, but the actual type of rhyming (within each line as well), beat quality, and vocal expression/ tone should all be addressed.

I love this album.This Message Edited On 08.04.08

Digging: Nmesh - Dream Sequins

bustyagunz
August 4th 2008



911 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

i think i addressed everything u said there, except for their tones
thats tough to describe in a review i popped on here at the end of my first week

kingsoby1
Emeritus
August 4th 2008



4830 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

It's just constructive criticism. I want you to do better, because I'm too lazy to write reviews these days.

bustyagunz
August 5th 2008



911 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

yea yea i gotcha, i just read through it and thought i did an alright job, but you did constructively criticize so props

JumpTheF**kUp
August 5th 2008



2708 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Album is tight.

cirq
December 13th 2008



9257 Comments


This album is a classic .

gaslightanthem
February 25th 2009



5209 Comments


lets all be white together

Lol.
Album is v v tight but doesn't always hold my attention the whole way through.



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