Author Topic: history of how all the Blackstar songs got conceptualized and developed..  (Read 85 times)

We Fly High

this pertains to the people who own the blackstar cd.. i got it when it first came out, prob like 5 years ago?, and if you were lucky to get it around then, the first printing of the cd has like stories of how all the songs came about and stuff, its pretty interesting...both mos def and talib write  a paragraph each for every song on the cd.. its interesting to see what they have to say and how their ideas developed into the final product is.. i think all the ones that came after that initial press just came as a thin insert..  just feel liek sharing a couple..

 prob my favorite song on the cd.. respiration ..
mos def : i had been working on this idea. a song about the city as an organism. many songs have been done about cities, spirities, people,etc. the notion of the city breathing came to me in LA one night. it was real quiet. i was at my homegirl renissa's (whats up you). and from the distance i could hear a song playing from someones house or car or somewhere. the song was faint b ut the bass was prominent. it was late at night an real quiet so where the concept came from. alhamudulillah.. it was a beautiful notion.if i could pick a song that i would like to be referred to as a testmanet to what im about as an artist, i would like for this song to be examined. the fact that i got to do it with two of my generations brightest talents is just a soft chewy homemade oatmeal cookie. allah is great!

talib : common is my favorite mc, and it was a pleasure to work with such a gracious individual. it was like a dream come true. mos def had the idea to write about how the city breathes for a long time and we tried it over different beats but the hi tek joint won. common and tone decided that the song felt like it needed a gutiar. and dechown came through in the clutch. i like the poetic feel to the pieces, it reminds me of spoken word.

and re:definition
mos def - i thought ti would be dope to jock the"p is still free" beat. everybody been caught up in the jackin old beats which aint so bad as long as its not ninety percent of your output. oand you can open up some new angel on the original version. otherwise, oflks could just listen to the original.

talib kweli: hip hop as a music of oppressed peoples has a fascination with death. this becomes personified when two of our most cherished artists, biggie and tupac were murdered. both of those men clebrated deathiin their music. sometimes its seems like there is a split between commercial and underground cultures. and commercially there were responses to the passing of these icons. the underground however kept moving as if the situation never happened. this was nnot because they did not care but because the underground as outsiders were able to place these deaths in the great canon of history. the art remains intact and will purge itself of negativity just like the earth. black people have BEEN dying. this is not new. god bless biggie smalls and tupac hsakur. this is our response.
« Last Edit: June 07, 2004, 02:20:46 AM by justin718 »
 

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Yeah that shit is tight. Like the fake Cash Money style cover inside the booklet as well, pure comedy.

MANBEARPIG.

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i GOT A USED COPY i THINK IT WAS RE-WRAPPED AT sAM gOODY BECAUSE MINE DOES NOT HAVE A BOOK JUST A PAPER WITH THE COVER ART AND ON THE BACK AN AD FOR OTHE rAWKUS PROJECTS....fUCKIN cAPS LOCK >:(

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01. INTRO – N/A

02. ASTRONOMY (8th LIGHT)

Mos Def: One day I looked up in the sky and you know what I saw? Stars. Stars in the sky and I thought "Wow, there they are..." Then I wrote a song about it.

Talib Kweli: Astronomy to me put the Black Star joint over the top. It's the intro song, but it's actually the last one we recorded. It was exciting to work with Mr. Walt and Evil Dee. They were already amped because they were working on the Black Moon Project at the same time. Weldon Irvine, or Master Wel, for those who know, was also a pleasure to work with. Here is this jazz musician who is responsible for the classic samples such as "Award Tour" and "My Philosophy", and he knows my work from the Lyricist Lounge CD! Weldon put out a jazz/spoken word CD independently, so he's definitely on the level. When me and Mos recorded this, we were in the vocal room at D&D going back and forth to each other. The final version was one straight take. That was fresh.

03. DEFINITION – N/A

04. RE: DEFINITION

Mos Def: I thought it would be dope to rock the "p is still free" beat. Everybody been caught up in jackin' old beats which ain't so bad, as long as it's not ninety percent of your output. And you can open up some new angle on the original version. Otherwise, folks could just listen to the original.

Talib Kweli: Hip hop, as music of oppressed peoples, has a fascination with death. This became personified when two of our most cherished artists, Biggie & Tupac, were murdered. Both of these men celebrated death in their music. Sometimes, it seems like there is a split between commercial and underground cultures, and commercially, there were responses to the passing of these icons. The "underground", however, kept moving as if the situation never happened. This was not because they did not care but because the "underground" as outsiders were able to place these deaths in the great canon of history. The art remains intact and will purge itself of negativity, just like the earth. Black people have BEEN dying. This is not new. God bless Biggie Smalls and Tupac Shakur. This is our response.

05. CHILDREN'S STORY

Mos Def: That beat! Shawn had played it for me a while back. He was going through some old dats and this came on. It was actually an intro to another beat and I bugged out when I heard it, like "that's bananas!” I implored a somewhat reluctant Shawn to use it, and then he went and laced it. There are several different bass tones in the song which are constantly alternating. That's why the track sounds so mobile (well at least to me anyway). Shawn is truly gifted...I'm glad he's part of my crew (MY CREW IS WILD NICE)! The lyrics just sort of evolved. I was playing around with the original in my mind and we placed "pajamas" with "Adidas" and it just developed from there. Contrary to popular belief, I wasn't trying to diss anyone. People think the song is about Puffy but it's not. It's about Beetlejuice. I didn't say his name because as you know, if you say it too many times, he'll appear.

Talib Kweli: Children's Story always brought the house down at a show. The first time I saw Mos perform was at Wetlands in April '97. I had been performing with him, and this was a surprise to me. People thought that Mos was talking about Puffy because he was there that night, but I knew that Mos would not have taken it there, especially since Biggie had passed away 2 weeks earlier. Mos loves Slick Rick (as we all do), so Children's Story was a tribute to his style, if anything. Mos would go on about how that song had no chorus, was one long verse, and still a hit. He just updated it to address some hip hop issues of 1997. Plus, every major city has a chicken head radio host. Some cities got dudes that are chicken head radio hosts. Well anyway, this joint is Mos Def's and Shawn J. Period's baby.

06. BROWN SKIN LADY

Mos Def: The chorus for this song came to me immediately. It sounded like a sweet young brown skin lady, like a lovely young brown skin female; just a pretty young beautiful brown skin woman. Like the kind of girl you meet at a 4th of July backyard cookout and she's wearing like a real pretty floral summer dress and she's just real nice. I've been wanting to do a rap ballad for a long time. Cat's be really playing sistas out in songs and it's just stupid. It may sound corny but whatever...I be corny before I'm ignorant. Coincidentally, Black Star and this song are neither. You can ask any brown skin lady you know.

Talib Kweli: Peace to my man J. Rawls of Lone Catalyst (Columbus, yes) for blessing us with the lush arrangement. Brown Skin Lady was the first song we recorded as Black Star, and probably the song closest to my heart. This is an important statement for "underground" artists, such as ourselves (right) to make. Too often, hip hop artists make songs about women with conditions. You know like, "you my boo but you can't see no dough" or "if you get out of line, I have to smack you", or they talk about how non-black looking the woman is, all of that extra shit. There is not enough material out to balance that aesthetic. We just wanted to do a song that celebrated women of color with no conditions, just because we love them. I have a feeling people will appreciate it and cherish it, because the brown skin ladies in my life do.

07. B-BOYS WILL B BOYS

Mos Def: That beat was so hard...It reminded me of a cipher with cats just breakin' like Jimmy Castor's "Just begun", or "Apache" or any one of those classic breaks. I break (a little), so it really gave me that feeling. I'm really glad to see people bringing it back. It's always been a part of the culture and to see it coming back is like seeing an old friend for the first time in a long while. Peace to all the B-boys and B-girls worldwide. Keep rockin'!!!

Talib Kweli: Originally, I wanted to use the G-Young track that Punch, AL, and Rise freestyled over on the Lyricist Lounge. Cats still sleep on that beat. When this B-boy track came on though, everybody thought of Rock Steady immediately. We knew we had to do something to pay tribute to where we come from as artists. I love this, even though I can't dance. Well, I could do the running man and I could jump over my leg like Kid n' Play, but that's it. The Double Trouble skit is timeless too.

08. (KOS) DETERMINATION

Mos Def: I remember Kwa performing this at Wetlands at the Solutions that Tip hosted. I was so amped off Kwa that night, this song in particular, I'm glad that Kwa put it on this project. He could've saved it for his own, but he shared it with me and I am grateful. Vinia being on the track was just a big soft chewy cookie. She's a real sweet lady and she got a reeeal sweet voice. We acted like little kids when she was around (she's so purty). I played a little bit of keys on it, so did Tone. I like it a lot. This song makes me feel real good...like that whole black love era in history and songs just like black love and strength. That's how I feel when I hear it.

Talib Kweli: DJ Hi-Tek is a genius, because he can make the hardcore bangers, or the melodic compositions. We did KOS over "the Ghetto" beat that Rakim rocked at first, and then when I went back to Brooklyn and Tone did this smooth ass remix, I knew that I wanted to add musicality to our creations, and KOS was the perfect opportunity to do it. While we were in Cali with Shawn, J. Rawls and Hi-Tek at "Bobalicious" studios, I was joking about people who we could get to sing on the joint. I said Whitney Houston, Dolly Parton, Vinia Mojica-then Shawn said, "Wait, I can get you Vinia Mojica!" We were like "Word?” See, originally, Shawn J. sung the hook, but we were all big fans of Vinia from the work she did with Native Tongues (who wasn't), and we wanted to add a female presence to the project. Vinia was a complete professional in the studio from start to finish, and I'd work with her again in a minute. Mos and Hi-Tek played a bit of Rhodes on it, and to me it just felt good. The purists might hate it, but to call for self determination in the black community is a priority for me. This song is dedicated to Mumia Abu Jamal and all political prisoners who were jailed because they fought for freedom.

09. HATER PLAYERS

Mos Def: Kwa had come to me with this idea of doing this song sort of playing on this whole silly "player hating" public health crisis going on nowadays. Hence the title "Hater Players" (you see...it's a play on words). And it was actually gonna be real funny, but for whatever reason we were still pretty straight ahead with it. And I think its fly from end to end. And you know what, I think even the players, and the player’s children, and their children, and their children's children will like it too.

Talib Kweli: I first heard the term "player hater" in Cincinnati, Ohio, many years ago. I always thought it was a curious expression. We started to see cats shouting "player hater" to anyone who had nerve to critique they wack shit. A lot of rich players are making wack-ass music, that's the bottom line! I remember when the worst thing you could be was a sell-out. Then the sell-outs started running things. We call this song "Hater Players" because there are many players who hate the fact that we do this for the love.

10. YO YEAH! – N/A

11. RESPIRATION

Mos Def: I had been working on this idea; a song about the city as an organism. Many songs have been done about cities as spirits, people, etc. The notion of the city breathing came to me in L.A. one night. It was real quiet; I was at my home girl Renissa's (what's up you). And from the distance I could hear a song playing from someone's house, or car, or somewhere. The song was faint but the bass was prominent. It was late at night and real quiet so where the concept came from. Alhamdulillah...It was a beautiful notion. If I could pick a song that I would like to be referred to as a testament to what I'm about as an artist, I would like for this song to be examined. The fact that I got to do it with two of my generation's brightest talents, is just a soft chewy homemade oatmeal cookie. Allah is great!

Talib Kweli: Common is my favorite MC, and it was a pleasure to work with such a gracious individual. It was a like a dream come true. Mos Def had the idea to write about how the city breathes for a long time, and we tried it over different beats, but the Hi-Tek joint won. Common and Tone decided that the song felt like it needed a guitar, and DeChown came through in the clutch. I like the poetic feel to the piece, it reminds me of spoken word.

12. THIEVES IN THE NIGHT

Mos Def: This is all Kweli...the concept, the choice of the beat, the chorus. I have my input but it was all inspired by what Kweli had already established. This is a very substantial song. 88 did the track and I really have Kweli to thank for his vision and insight. This is one of my favorite songs on this project.

Talib Kweli: This song is dedicated to Toni Morrison and Black authors in general. They are the preservers of our culture. That paragraph is Ms. Morrison's "The Bluest Eye" that we paraphrased struck me as one of the truest critiques of our society, and I read that in high school when I was 15 years old. I think it is especially true in the world of hip hop, because we get blinded by these illusions. Hip hop is a microcosm of the society we live in where the values and morals of the society are actually magnified. We came up with the format of the joint at about 4 in the morning, in 88 Keys' basement out in Boon Docks, Long Island. This is really a beautiful song. Mos wasn't feeling it at first, but once he began writing his verse, he went off. I'm approaching it in my actual talking voice, almost talking to the track, and Mos is spitting his heart out. We take the Black Star line and ride on home.

13. TWICE INNA LIFETIME

Mos Def: My daddy once said that some things happen twice in a lifetime and in my experience I find that to be true. Some things happen more than twice but that's not the name of the song.

Talib Kweli: Mos, Jane, Words, Punch, and I dropped verses over a new and improved "Fortified Live" beat. But after living with it for a minute, we decided that Fortified was what it was, for its time, and that's what makes it classic. 3AM Hi-Tek decides to make another beat. He did and 4 hours later, we had the final "Twice Inna Lifetime (Fortified II)." Wordsworth and Punchline come from the same open mic aesthetic that me and Mos do, and they always get me open. Jane Doe brought the ruggedness, the estrogen and she's down with Words and Punch. One love to all underground emcees that be rippin' open mics everywhere! It's a privilege to work with the highest caliber
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