Black Starr

The New York duo of Mos Def and Talib Kweli

The Duo

Black Star arose from the underground movement of the late 1990s, which was in large part due to Rawkus Records, an independent record label stationed in New York City. They released one album, Mos Def & Talib Kweli Are Black Staron August 26, 1998. The record received critical acclaim, but only moderate commercial success. Black Star (and other members of the Native Tongues Posse) helped shape underground alternative rap, bringing it into the mainstream. Both Mos Def and Talib Kweli have gone on to greater commercial and critical success in their solo careers.

Mos Def (Most Definite)

Mos Def was born Dante Smith on December 11, 1973 in Brooklyn, New York. The oldest of 12 children and stepchildren, Mos Def and several of his siblings grew up with his mother in the Brooklyn projects, while several of his other siblings grew up with their father in New Jersey. Coming of age at the height of New York City's crack epidemic in the 1980s, a young Mos Def found himself surrounded by violence, addiction and crime. Reflecting on his childhood home, the rapper later said, "I believe the projects were a social experiment; we were laboratory rats stacked on top of each other, and people just knew, inherently, that there was something wrong."

Talib Kweli

Talib Kweli Greene (born October 3, 1975), better known as Talib Kweli, is an American MC from Brooklyn, New York. He is one of the most critically, if not commercially, successful rappers in Hip hop music. His first name in Arabic means “student” or “seeker”; his middle name in Swahili means “true”. Kweli first gained recognition through Black Star, a collaboration with fellow MC Mos Def.