Posts Tagged ‘Mos Def’

Black Star, You Already Knew


Black Star is being extremely generous this Thanksgiving weekend as they released two tracks in a 24 hour period. Just yesterday I wrote of their new track “Fix Up” which is set to be released off their 2012 reunion album.

Well a few hours later the duo released “You Already Knew” which is to be released on an Aretha Franklin inspired tribute album–and it’s just as soulful as you would imagine.

The track incorporates Black Star’s unique rapping style with a slowed Aretha Franklin sample–it’s slow, smooth and showcases both the legendary swagger of Aretha, Mos Def and Talib Kweli.

The sample actually mirrors some of the other sampling styles made famous by other Chicago based rappers such as Kanye West, who found fame in using old soul samples sped up and pitched. Granted, Black Star came before Kanye, it’s certainly refreshing to see a slow paced soulful sample to bump to.

Since I recently posted about the duo just a day ago–I’ll cut to the chase!
Check the track out above, and keep your ears open for the new Aretha inspired album which is in the works as we speak.



Black Star, Fix Up



Hip-hop was as a revolution.

The full-force genre originally had humble beginnings as it was born the love child of Jazz poetry and 1970’s underground DJ culture. Rapping was an art form–a catalyst for young minds to project art in their own personal fashion. There was no need for sonnets or fancy prose as the “stanzas” of the streets came in the form of free-style, and just like an improvisational solo–rap was off the cuff and from the soul.

However as time progressed, so did raps lyrical content. We saw rhymes written about societal acceptance fade into raps written about material possessions. Granted, there is nothing wrong with this–one could argue that this just shows how culture has shifted in the three decades that rap has been around.

Though, I’d like to point out some of the revolutionaries who were pivotal in raps evolution. I’d like to discuss two artists that brought back that poetic flair to their music–Mos Def and Talib Kweli, better known as Black Star.

Mos Def, now known as Yasiin Bey and Talib Kweli arrived on the scene in 1997–on the heels of the deaths of both Tupac Shakur and Biggie Smalls. Their claim to fame was their call to end violence in hip-hop.

I said one, two, three. It’s kinda dangerous to be an M.C. They shot Tupac and Biggie. Too much violence in hip-hop.

Though, they weren’t calling for peace in the hippie flower child kind of way–they were making a statement through their work.

You see, these two gentlemen truly personified original roots hip-hop.

Their work has always had a flair of poetic nature–it’s safe to say that Black Star brought back into popularity poetic based rap where the lyrical content was deep, edgy and thought provoking. Largely due to Mos Def (Yasiin Bey), slam poetry also made a revival around this time period, and many artists reconnected with their poetic roots and brought it back to their work. Mos Def would later go on to host Def Jam Poetry on HBO for a number of years. Black Star put out some amazing stuff throughout the 90’s and the early 00’s that is considered classic today–they genuinely are the cream of the crop in terms of underground roots based hip-hop.

Around the late 90’s the duo started putting out solo material more than group material and each had huge success on their own through film, tv as well as music. It’s safe to say that both Mos Def and Kweli are widely respected in the hip-hop community.

All of this being said, I am really excited for their new album to drop in 2012! The duo appeared on the Colbert Report in October to play their new track, “Fix Up”. It serves more as an introduction than your average “banger” that you’d hear, however the song serves as a great appetizer to their 2012 reunion album.

Check it out and keep your ears open for their new releases.


Black Star “Fix Up”


The Roots of Hip Hop: Spoken Word Poetry


It is widely accepted that the roots of lyric driven music comes from poetry.

Poetry crosses cultural as well as generational gaps, and is widely considered a main stay in the art world and one of the most genuine ways to express your emotions.

And if written lines aren’t powerful enough poetry becomes even more potent when a poem is recited–when you can not only hear but feel the power behind every word and every stanza, then poetry becomes an even more expressive and beautiful art form.

If you really delve into it and look into poetry and its global presence, you start to see its effect in not only music and literature but everything from speeches, sermons, lectures, interactions between loved ones–from Greek epics to the meditative haikus poetry is a corner stone in expression and identity.

That being said, it is no surprise that many musicians and writers spill their thoughts into poetry in some shape or form.

Some have even gone as far as writing books of poetry, having a spoken word track on their album or doing television appearances.

Listed below are a few of my favorites:

Kanye West- Bitter Sweet 


Talib Kweli- Religions

Common- A Letter To The Law


Alicia Keys- Tears for Water

Kanye West- 18 Years