Black Star | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Sign up for our newsletters Subscribe



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.

Support Independent Chicago Journalism: Join the Reader Revolution

We speak Chicago to Chicagoans, but we couldn’t do it without your help. Every dollar you give helps us continue to explore and report on the diverse happenings of our city. Our reporters scour Chicago in search of what’s new, what’s now, and what’s next. Stay connected to our city’s pulse by joining the Reader Revolution.

Are you in?

  Reader Revolutionary $35/month →  
  Rabble Rouser $25/month →  
  Reader Radical $15/month →  
  Reader Rebel  $5/month  → 

Not ready to commit? Send us what you can!

 One-time donation  → 

Add a comment