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Wednesday, June 6, 2007

The E True Hollywood Story of Black Star/Black Star Come Back Hip Hop Swallows Cum Now

Circa 98/99 Rawkus was in full effect pumping out compilations like Soundbombing, Lyrcist Lounge and in general had hip hop on lock. Mos Def and Talib were building up steam on the underground. If my memory doesn't fail me, Mos started appearing more on Native Tongue posse cuts (alot of De La and Tribe features), Talib had some hot verses out and Blackstar (collectively) was being hailed as the new movement of hip hop. I was mad excited to cop the Black Star album. I borrowed my dude's copy as soon as it droppped as I was too broke even in those days to purchase an album; much hasn't changed. The shit bumped all the way through and not on some scream and throw your head against a speaker and wild out type shit or some yo, let me grab the hammer and rob somebody type tip or the i'm a jiggy coon type BS but on a socially conscious, logical, positive, lyrical tip. Let's see: "Definition," "Re-Def," "Children's Story," "Brown Skin Lady," "Thieves in the Night," and I can't leave out "Respiration." Plus you were getting an early Hi Tek on some tracks. The shit was a hip hop classic. It had passion, creativity...all that shit to make a true hip hop album. So, the duo splits and pursue solo careers...That's cool, Mos got enough charisma and Talib's rhymes were dope.

Mos drops Black on Both Sides, a dope album not a classic but dope (for some it's a classic not me). Mos creates a versatile album with tracks like "Miss Fat," "Mathematics," "Mr. Nigga," and "Umi Says" showing that his artistry spans past just rapping. It was a good album for the genre of hip hop, Period. It showed creativity didn't have to be limited.

Talib & Hi Tek drops Reflection Eternal. Not to be outshined by partner, Mos, Talib also drops a near classic. Tracks like "The Blast," "Move Somethin," "Eternalists," and "Soul Rebels" were some of my favorites but even at, I think, around 23 tracks, it didn't seem over extended and for a cat to have that many quality tracks without every other track being a skit is amazing. Plus Talib's clever punchlines and dense lyrical verses left the listener with alot to think about (which then was a good thing. now, not so much--we're an instant gratification crowd nowadays--again not all but most).

Then the decline...

Mos drops his version of Common's (pussy whipped, spaceship ride--Sorry Com) Electric Circus, The New Danger. I remember thinking what the hell is this shit?? There's nothing wrong with growing but changing your whole steez up when you're fan base has come to love you for something else is simply wrong. The album seem confused, lacked a real direction and simply put, weird as shit. It was equal parts: 1/4 mushroom trip, 1/4 political rants, 1/4 some regular Mos BK shit and 1/4 crap.

Ok so now Quality drops. Mos didn't do so well but I know Talib wouldn't fail me. Wrong. Talib and Hi Tek divorce b/c of some shit I can't really remember. Hi-Tek's absense becomes ever present on this lp and Kweli struggles to find an identity. I'm a big time Kweli fan so when I hear dude name dropping Gucci or LV bags (whatever the shit was) on "Waitin for the DJ" I figured that Kweli had sold his soul to Satan for a Range and a shiney ice chain. Other tracks that left a sour taste in my mouth (pause no fruity) "Shock Body," "Gun Music" and even the Kanye assisted tracks seemed out of place. Point blank, in my personal opinion Quality was lackluster at best. Real talk on this album, Kweli saw his opportunity to hit mainstream and swung and his core audience (some not all) took it as he turned his backpack in for a pass to the Bigs aka Hollywood.

At this point, Mos was making mills off movies so I'm sure music was his last worry. Talib dropped Beautiful Struggle which was an okay album but I really wasn't feeling it and only gave it about a listen or two. I'm not going to front like I know that album from top to bottom. I barely remember it which to me, indicates it wasn't that great. Talib gets jammed up on the industry shit, seeks out of the majors. Mos returns to music drops True Magic which was not a bad album but I think because of the label drama he was going through those outside factors really derailed the project from hitting its full potential. Cats didn't even know it dropped. It came out right around that time window between Kingdom Come and Hip Hop is Dead. And I think alot of the controversial (aka good shit) got nixed because Daddy Big Dick aka the label didn't feel comfortable with putting out the uncensored version. Since then Kweli's done some other indie projects but I ain't been checking for dude really. I got Eardrum (for review purposes solely, lol) and I'm going to listen to it for real b/c despite his last couple of efforts, Kweli is better than 90% of the other rappers out and actually has passsion for the music. And good rappers deserve forgiveness even if they do drop some shitbag albums. I'mma cop the Liberation joint he did with Madlib too. Madlib might be the most dynamic hip hop musician of our time but I'll write something up on that another time.

But let's keep it all the way live here. These dudes just aren't as good as they could be as Black Star. They balance each other's styles out. Add in Hi-Tek and you got money in the bank (not in the literal sense but dope shit. y'all n****s know what I'm saying). The reunion album has been in the pipeline for damn near 6 years. C'mon guys lets put the egos aside and make it happen. Release the shit on Koch for all I care. Hip hop misses Black Star. Hip hop needs Black Star.

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