This post is in the theme “Constructing an identity through media”. Read the first.
September 23, New York: As the first track began (“The mighty Mos Def is a real life documentarian. / Talib Kweli, real life documentary”) I immediately wrote in my notes: “This might be the best album of all time?” It just might be. Talib Kweli and Mos Def are truly incredible behind their respective microphones. The guests across the album are all fantastic; I could listen to Jane Doe rap for hours. The beats are stellar, the message is important but the album is still fun. It’s a masterwork.
But let’s say you disagree. Let’s say there’s some other album out there that has your heart by the tail. Well let me at least make a case for “Respiration” to live in the all-time-greats canon of hip hop. Holy crap this song is incredible. The Spanish-language hook? The Style Wars sample at the intro? That line “blasting holes in the night til she bled sunshine”. Wow. Not too mention— this song has Common!
I spent my entire early twenties praying to the lords of rhyme that we might have a hip hop supergroup of Kweli, Mos, and Common. Pretty please? I remember hearing a rumor about a Rawkus Records supergroup: Mos Def, Common, Talib Kweli, Pharaohe Monch, Hi-Tek, maybe more. I believed that rumor a little bit too hard. In the end it was probably just the wishful thinking of other Rawkus fans.
But looking back now at the full discography of Rawkus, it’s incredible. So many of my favorite hip hop albums. Mos Def and Kweli, of course. But Beatminerz, Big L, Soundbombing, High & Mighty. All such fantastic stuff. Thank you, Rawkus Records. But most of all, thank you for Mos Def and Talib Kweli are Black Star.
You should own this album. It’s important both to you and to humanity that you are listening to “Respiration” on a regular basis.