First forming in 1997, Black Star is a duo composed of members Mos Def (now Yasiin Bey) and Talib Kweli. While Black Star has only released one studio album (1998’s Mos Def & Talib Kweli Are Black Star) to date, their influence as a group remains impactful to hip-hop—focusing on modern-day trials and tribulations navigating through America as two men of color.
Their debut deviated from the cookie-cutter themes dominating mainstream rap at the heart of the “Shiny Suit Era.” Instead, Mos Def & Talib Kweli Are Black Star focused on a celebration and intelligent examination of Black culture—with “Thieves in the Night” inspired by author Toni Morrison’s novel The Bluest Eyes, and “Brown-Skinned Lady” challenging Western ideals of beauty. Their two singles “Definition” and “Respiration” featuring Common, remain hip-hop classics, produced by none other than Hi-Tek.
Following their first release, the members of Black Star went on to pursue their own solo careers. They have remained close collaborators for upwards of two decades, with speculation consistently surrounding a reunion project. In 2006, Mos Def and Talib Kweli appeared in the film Dave Chappelle’s Block Party, even creating a new song for the soundtrack, “Born & Raised.”
In 2011, Black Star reunited to perform new material on the Colbert Report, with their Madlib-produced track “Fix Up” being leaked prior to its official release. The single was accompanied by another release, “You Already Knew,” only furthering the desire for a Black Star sophomore album.