Yasiin Bey (aka Mos Def) and Talib Kweli announce first Black Star album in 20 years
DJ Madlib is producing it.
In 1998, the title of a rap album laid it out fairly bluntly: “Mos Def & Talib Kweli Are Black Star.” Talib Kweli and Mos Def (who now goes by the name Yasiin Bey) were initially planning to produce their own solo albums but discovered there was a musical chemistry between them. The joint album—the duo called themselves Black Star—was an effective icebreaker for them both to the world of hip-hop. Kweli and Bey went on to have their own successful careers in music, film and activism. Black Star the ensemble then took a decades-long hiatus from releasing albums. Twenty years later, the two are getting back together. And they’re bringing friends.
Earlier this week, during a set from producer Madlib in Denver, Colorado, Yasiin Bey took to the stage to start dropping names that were like honey in his fans’ ears. “All Madlib all day, new Black Star 2018,” said Bey to roaring applause. “Madlib Black Star. Madlib Black Star.”
Fans have been speculating Black Star was up to something since January. At the end of the month, Talib Kweli posted a photo on Instagram of Kanye West and Yasiin Bey sitting together. It looked as if the two were jotting down notes and hashing out ideas. “2018 is looking good…” wrote Kweli in his post.
While Kanye’s involvement is confirmed by photographic evidence alone, some were surprised to hear Bey announce the involvement of Madlib. Madlib is best known for his work with MF DOOM, Guilty Simpson and De La Soul. Madlib also released several acclaimed albums as his alter ego, Quasimoto.
Madlib was not involved in the 1998 album, but produced a one-off single from Black Star in 2011 called “Fix Up.” Kweli and Bey only performed it once, on The Colbert Report. Shortly after the Denver show, Madlib added a second confirmation through his newsletter Rappcats, reaffirming that he’d be producing the new Black Star record due this year.