Mos Def & Talib Kweli Are Black Star


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It’s 1998. Hip-hop is in crisis. Carry on as before and be destroyed, or forge a new path in which culture, intelligence and unity take precedence over beefs and disses, tribalism and chaos? The two previous years had seen the murders of two icons of the music, both young leaders that fans looked up to. Those fans needed heroes to follow, and a lifestyle to emulate, perhaps. But the lifestyles of Tupac Shakur and Biggie Smalls had ultimately led nowhere. They were admired – worshipped, even – and had achieved much in short lifetimes. But they were martyrs to what? These voices were assumed to be representing their generation, but the way they represented it was grim: like so many other young black males in America, they saw the inside of prison cells and died in senseless street violence. It was time for a change of direction. Such things were among the concerns of Mos Def and Talib Kweli when they began recording together. They were Black Star.