Talib Kweli @ Club Red

In 1998, pioneering hip-hoppers Mos Def and Talib Kweli teamed up for Mos Def & Talib Kweli Are Black Star. Call it conscious rap or backpack rap if you must; we prefer to call it one of the best hip-hop records of the '90s. In the 14 years since the album's release, a lot has changed: Mos Def (he goes by Yasiin Bey these days) is known as much for his film acting as his rapping, and Kweli's grown uncomfortable with the "conscious rap" tag. His forthcoming record, the cheekily titled Prisoner of Conscious, is pegged for a "summer 2012" release and features a slew of rappers, like RZA, Busta Rhymes, Curren$y, Kendrick Lamar, and Melanie Fiona, who are not likely to get tagged as backpackers any time soon. Kweli's stayed busy with his own stuff, but those holding their breath for a Black Star reunion will find it easy to exhale soon — this year should see the release of a followup mixtape, Aretha, that reunites the legendary duo.


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