Black Star is an American hip hop duo formed in 1997, from Brooklyn, New York City, New York. The duo is composed of rappers Yasiin Bey (Mos Def) and Talib Kweli. They released a number of singles and one album, Mos Def & Talib Kweli Are Black Star on August 26, 1998. The record received critical acclaim, but only moderate commercial success. Since then the duo has worked together intermittently on soundtracks and other projects.
Black Star arose from the underground movement of the late 1990s, which was in large part due to Rawkus Records, an independent record label stationed in New York City. They, together with other members of the Native Tongues Posse, helped shape underground alternative rap, bringing it into the mainstream. Both Mos Def and Talib Kweli have gone on to greater commercial and critical success in their solo careers.
Black Star's message on their original album carried a lot of weight, from both their lyrics about social consciousness and political issues as well the strong statement in the wake of the deaths of both Biggie Smalls and Tupac Shakur in the late 1990s, during which an adolescent hip-hop culture suffered in the vacuum of iconic leadership provided by Smalls and Shakur. Black Star attempted to reconcile these tensions in their songs "Definition" and "Re:Definition" which share the same lyrics on their self-titled album: “I said one, two, three / It’s kinda dangerous to be an emcee / They shot Tupac and Biggie / Too much violence in hip-hop, Y-O”
In 2001, Black Star performed "Money Jungle" with Ron Carter and John Patton for the Red Hot Organization's compilation album Red Hot + Indigo, a tribute to Duke Ellington, which raised money for various charities devoted to increasing AIDS awareness and fighting the disease. In 2002, the song "Hater Players" was used in an episode of The Wire, season one episode 10, The Cost. In 2005, hip hop website TheSituation.co.uk reported Kweli said that a new Black Star album was "in the pipeline". On Talib Kweli's Myspace he posted up a video saying that "We're going to find Mos Def and put it on camera that there will be a second Black Star album." In 2006, Mos and Kweli appeared together in the movie Dave Chappelle's Block Party, alongside Erykah Badu, Common, Jill Scott, Dead Prez and The Fugees, among others. They contributed a new song, "Born & Raised", to the movie's soundtrack.
The first new Black Star song was leaked via DJ J Rocc from Stones Throw Records. The song is produced by Madlib and is titled "Fix Up". On October 5, 2011 Black Star appeared on the Colbert Report and publicly performed the song for the first time. On November 25, Black Friday "Fix Up" was released on iTunes followed by another song titled "You Already Knew".
Studio albums Edit
|Title||Album details||Peak chart positions||Certifications||Sales|
|Mos Def & Talib Kweli Are Black Star||53||13||—||
|"—" denotes a recording that did not chart or was not released in that territory.|
|Title||Year||Peak chart positions||Album|
|"Definition"||1998||60||31||3||—||Mos Def & Talib Kweli Are Black Star|
| "One Four Love Pt. 1"|
(featuring Common, Kool G Rap, Pharoahe Monch, Posdnuos, Rah Digga, Shabaam Sahdeeq, and Sporty Thievz)
|1999||—||55||4||6||Hip Hop for Respect EP|
|"Fix Up"||2011||—||—||—||—||rowspan="1" Template:N/a|
|"—" denotes a title that did not chart, or was not released in that territory.|
- 1997: "Fortified Live", "Freestyle" from Rawkus Compilation, "Soundbombing" song also featuring "Hi-Tek" and Mr. Man
- 1999: "Know That" from Mos Def's album, Black on Both Sides
- 1999: "Little Brother", The Hurricane (soundtrack)
- 2000: "This Means You", produced by DJ Hi-Tek on the album Train Of Thought
- 2001: "Money Jungle" from the Red Hot Organization's album Red Hot + Indigo
- 2002: "Joy" from Talib Kweli's album, Quality
- 2002: "Brown Sugar (Raw)", Brown Sugar (soundtrack)
- 2004: "Beautiful (Black Star remix)", a remix of the Mary J. Blige song Beautiful, featured on the single of the song
- 2005: "Supreme Supreme" from Talib Kweli's album, Right About Now
- 2005: "Bright as the Stars" from Mos Def's single, "Ah Ha"
- 2005: "What It Is" from Talib Kweli's mixtape, The Beautiful Mixtape Vol. 2
- 2006: "Born & Raised" from the soundtrack, Dave Chappelle's Block Party
- 2006: "Hip Hop (Screamixx)", Hip-Hop Docktrine: The Official Boondocks Mixtape
- 2009: "History", from Mos Def's album The Ecstatic
- 2010: "Just Begun", from Reflection Eternal song also featuring Jay Electronica & J. Cole, Revolutions per Minute
- 2011: "Astronomy", from Blackstar appearance on The Colbert Report
- 2011: "You Already Knew", off Black Star Aretha, the two's tribute to the legendary singer, Aretha Franklin.
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