January 5, 2009
“And fantasy it was, for we were not strong, only aggressive; we were not free, merely licensed; we were not compassionate, we were polite; not good, but well behaved. We courted death in order to call ourselves brave, and hid like thieves from life.”
Mos Def and Talib Kweli are Blackstar was released in 1998. These two emcees that seemed destined to rhyme off of each other created an album that not only entertained but educated and inspired me the same way that Toni Morrison’s book did. The album was a refreshing alternative to some of the other rap albums released during that period and it prompted people to classify it as “conscious rap” a title that has been rebuked by the same artists who were classified as such, i.e. Mos, Kweli, Common, The Roots, Little Brother, et. al. Not wanting to be placed in that box that somehow classifies their music as some kind of sub genre in hip-hop only regulated to a certain type of listener.
The track that moved me most of all was ‘Thieves In The Night’, it’s an amazing interpretation/rendition of the theme of Toni Morrison’s book. This song is the pinnacle of the album and the lyrics and delivery, especially in Mos’s verse makes you repeat the track just to memorize each word and soak up the knowledge he’s giving you.
And just like the source material this song also stands as a masterpiece and one that will stand throughout time.
Hopefully you’ll also find inspiration.
“not strong, only aggressive/not free, we only licensed/not compassionate, only polite (now who the nicest?)/not good but well-behaved/chasin’ after death so we could call ourselves brave, still livin’ like mental slaves/hiding like thieves in the night from life/illusions of oasis making you look twice.”