A Letter To The Black Star, Mos Def and Talib Kweli

Jose Vilson Jose



Dear Mos Def and Talib Kweli, (or whoever decides to read / respond / reflect)

Your concert piece last night reminded me why I’m such a big fan of yours. A myriad of followers from all over the Tri-State area, of all different backgrounds, ages, and cultures came through to show these two Brooklyn men love. Without any songs on the radio or much publicity, you turned out 2 sold out shows, one of which started close to midnight. And we waited for you. For that alone, I can assume you’re ecstatic and grateful to your fans for sticking around that long.

Meeting you, Talib, always came at the weirdest times. The first time I met you, it was in Union Sqaure while you were running around with your friends (literally). I remember just a really cool, humble Brooklyn dude, but little did you know this came right before I was going to purchase Quality, and since then, I was sold. I’ve converted many a non-believer with that one alone. I saw you at Syracuse University’s Block Party in 2004 with Wyclef, saw you at your free concert in downtown Manhattan, and even at a Barnes N’ Nobles, where you were getting some books with your kids. In all those moments, you never came off as larger than your fan base, never too cool to speak to anyone.

Same with you, Mos. You went and did a couple of solo joints, but have been equally as memorable for all your outside endeavors. Top Dog / Underdog. Def Poetry Jam. Brown Sugar. 16 Blocks. OK, maybe not the last one. But we dug the episode of House. And your random appearances on Talib’s materials. Again, all good to us. For some reason, your affable nature makes it easy to like you. If you walk down the street, you don’t consider yourself too big to walk down a street and grab a slice.

What’s weird is that, maybe you two never got that, but the rest of us, as anticipatory as we were, started losing our patience. Like how we got irritated with 88-Keys for being the second opening act when we were all there to see Blackstar. Like how we got irritated at the sound crew and everyone else who walked on stage before you guys, making us wait so damn long  for you all. Like how @realtalibkweli and @mrbey at first didn’t reply to fans at all, but your fellow celebs and hip-hop intelligentsia. And when @realtalibkweli started to, you sounded a lot like @rhymefest, asking us questions about trivia. Like how we only had you two in concert for exactly an hour and not a minute longer. Like how there hasn’t been a (joint) Black Star album since the first one, even with such visible chemistry on record and in real life.

And yet, here there we were, bopping our head to every damn song, 40$ a pop in the hole, making sure we had our cell phones, cameras, and camcorders out for this event in hip-hop.  We could care less about the people who appeared at the event, or the VIPs crawling the space. We just wanted that raw NYC hip-hop. We thirsted for those lyrics, and a reminder that the intelligent hip-hop fans / geeks matter, too. We wanted to dance, sing, rap along, and not feel like subservient model chicks and posers, but people of a movement that almost seems long past us.

For that feeling alone, and for keeping those flames, then, Talib and Mos, we have to thank you. Sometimes, we have these unrealistic expectations of our Black stars, especially those that touch our lives so profoundly, who write letters to their grandmothers that sound like ours, who offer us a way to get by and reach for the stars, who define and redefine our beloved music for us, who challenge us on so many levels, like we’re asked to simultaneously look at your humanity while we all reach for a divinity of sorts.

You’re truly Black Stars, against the canvas of an NYC night, appearing a curious celestial phenomena …

Jose, who’s all about the K.O.S. …