Black Star--New York rappers Mos Def and Talib Kweli--arrived last year as hip-hop saviors, embracing old-school virtues in a rigorous critique of commercial hip-hop's artistic stasis. Their own rhymes feature a noticeable absence of the misogyny, violence, and greed at the heart of the genre's woes, and on "Children's Story," from last year's Mos Def & Talib Kweli Are Black Star, Mos Def offers a parable for Puffy, asserting in no uncertain terms that swiping beats and hooks wholesale from stars kills the culture: "The kid got wild, startin' actin' erratic / He said, 'Yo, that presidential, I got to have it....' / With liquor in his belly, son, he made up the track / But little did he know that his joints was wack / The shiny A and R said, 'Great new hit G!'" (It must be noted, however, that Black Star isn't entirely above a little selective borrowing, copping from Boogie Down Productions on "Definition.") On "Hater Players" Kweli stands up for the duo's very right to criticize hip-hop: "Reverse psychology got 'em scared to say when shit is wack / Got fear of being called a hater, imagine that! / We ain't havin' that." The rappers' musical, elegant styles are complemented by the lean beat schemes of DJ Hi-Tek, and reportedly the combination is even more potent live. Former Chicagoan Common, whose next record is forthcoming on MCA, also appears, so expect some high-intensity collaboration--these guys are all over each other's records. Thursday, July 29, 10 PM, Joe's, 940 W. Weed; 312-337-3486. PETER MARGASAK
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Eddie Otcuere.