Do Remember When Pete Rock & Black Thought Breathed New Life Into Black Star (Audio)
In September, Hip-Hop will celebrate the 20th anniversary of Mos Def & Talib Kweli Are Black Star, the album which launched Talib Kweli’s solo career and spawned one of the most beloved unions in Rap music. Two decades later, the Rawkus Records masterpiece will be the star of a handful of forthcoming reunion performances, including appearances at Red Rocks and the Brooklyn Hip-Hop Festival. Together, Yasiin Bey (fka Mos Def) and Kweli will revisit the breakthrough eponymous album, which is home to hallmarks like “Definition,” “Brown Skin Lady,” and “Respiration.”
The Hi-Tek produced “Respiration” originally featured Common, but Pete Rock breathed new life into it with the Flying High remix by incorporating new verses from Talib and Mos, plus a new guest. His version included a verse from Black Thought, who at the time of the original version’s release in 1999 was leading The Roots in the crew’s magnum opus, Things Fall Apart. In fact, the original version of “Respiration” was released as a single in the same month (February) as Things Fall Apart hit store shelves. On this B-Side, the three MCs swap inspired rhymes about lyrical prowess, urban plight and divine inspiration. In his verse, Mos Def dedicated the song to the late Scott La Rock, B.I.G. and ‘Pac as well as Kwame Ture (better known as Stokely Carmichael), Jazz singer Betty Carter and Pan-African studies pioneer John Henrik Clarke (one of Black Star’s inspirations).
“Respiration (Flying High Remix)” was a point of discussion in a recent interview with Black Thought and HOT 97. On “Ebro in the Morning,” he discussed his recently released Streams of Thought, Vol. 1 but towards the end of the segment, Peter Rosenberg asks Thought about the record, commenting on his remembering the exact time and place of its release. At the 35:06 mark, Black Thought recalls “I was running with Pete Rock a lot, comin’ up from Philly and hanging with Pete Rock and his brother Grap [Luva] and Rob-O and InI, that whole crew. That was my team. And Pete had a residency, sort of, at Greene Street Studios in the Village, so I used to just go post up in there whenever I was in town. That’s when Pete was poppin’. All sorts of artists would be comin’ through. With some, I was just a fly on the wall, sometimes it’d be my peoples.”
That’s when Rosenberg says, “I think, if I’m not mistaken, I feel like ‘Respiration (Remix)’ was originally [Pete Rock’s] Future Flavas ‘Slang Editorial’ Cappadonna remix,” to which Black Thought responds “Oh yeah, wow. You’re a nerd!”
AFH can relate, and this remix is worth remembering.