Black Star Release The Featured Artists On Their New Album
In less than a month, one of the most anticipated Hip-Hop albums of all time is set to release. On May 3, Yasiin Bey and Talib Kweli will wave the Black Star flag once more with the duo’s second album in nearly 24 years. Late last week, the Brooklyn, New York duo confirmed the news, adding that Madlib produced the LP titled No Fear Of Time. The move confirms reports since 2018 of the union with a peer in the mid-late 1990s Underground Hip-Hop movement. While Talib Kweli and Mos Def released critically acclaimed albums with the now-defunct Rawkus Records, Madlib, and his many incarnations were keystone releases across the country for Stones Throw Records.
Despite their label histories, Black Star’s No Fear Of Time is set to arrive in a different format. The LP will release on the Luminary podcast platform, the same home to The Midnight Miracle—a podcast created by Talib, Yasiin, and Dave Chappelle. While the podcast is available on popular platforms, it is unclear if the album will be the same or live behind a subscription paywall. However, the podcast description confirmed that the second Black Star album will feature The Roots’ Questlove and Black Thought, Roc Marciano, Talib’s longtime Javotti Media artist NIKO IS, comedian Michelle Wolf, Narcy, and Radio Rahim.
Black Star’s Madlib-Produced Album Gets A Title & Release Date
In the latest podcast episode, titled “BUGS BUNNY MATHEMATICX” (a reference Yasiin eventually explains) Dave Chappelle details how Black Star recorded one day after a severe tornado scare on the comedian’s Yellow Springs, Ohio property in May 2019. The podcast includes Questlove’s praises of what he’s heard from the new album, Talib recounting the 1997 origin story of Black Star—and how even 25 years ago, Yasiin Bey understood his value. In the audio, Yasiin reacts to paraphrased statements made by Spotify’s CEO Daniel Ek that discourage artists from taking breaks from releasing music. “I was annoyed by that assertion,” Yasiin responds, getting agreement by Kweli. “To be an artist—whether you’re professional or not—takes time, it takes focus, and it takes a certain level of dedication to even cultivate a natural talent that you have. It’s one thing to be talented, but to cultivate that talent takes time, it takes courage, and it’s not something that’s necessarily happening on this Ford Motor Company assembly line corporate robot schedule—as some people would assume. When people talk about works of art, you are not talking about inanimate objects; you are talking about a pair of Levi’s 501 jeans that have all the rips placed strategically because it’s a dynamic, systemized experience—it’s not a standardized thing. And I think the problem with that type of attitude towards art as it engages technology is because the technology is a conduit to take it to the audience; that is what needs to be a priority.” As an independent artist and label owner, Talib admits that he is forced to play the game with these well-heeled digital streaming platforms despite their views on art and technology. He also adds that Yasiin Bey showed him how to ask for his value at a high cost and subsequently get it despite some difficulties at times. “Freedom is the victory of every soul; every soul wants to be free,” Yasiin proclaims in another movement. “You don’t have to f*ck people over to succeed.” Clips play from the past, where artists—especially Black artists—were financially compromised by a greedy industry on the take.
The clip also features Roc Marciano, who is a pioneer in selling music directly ahead of DSP release. It also includes a discussion about how Black Star’s sophomore album will live—on an exclusive platform, at the DSPs, or some hybrid of the two. The artists debate the possibilities before playing a clip of Prince condemning his former label, Warner Bros., at an awards podium and Dave Chappelle discussing his highly-publicized parting of ways from Chappelle’s Show and Comedy Central. As the vignette closes, music plays.
Roc Marciano’s New Album Is The Latest Indie Uppercut To The Streaming Model
On another podcast, What’s The Headline (embedded in video and audio below), the Ambrosia For Heads team unpacks the news of new Black Star music, the sophomore album’s details and speculates how we think it will be released. As artists like Nipsey Hussle, Kanye West, Roc Marciano, and Mach-Hommy have challenged the DSP system, WTH also considers what we would pay for an album after nearly a quarter-century of waiting. The conversation from episode #80 also examines new music from Pusha-T and JAY-Z, ScHoolboy Q, and more.
The time codes for episode #80 of the What’s The Headline podcast:
2:56 Will Smith is banned from the Oscars for 10 years. Does it matter?
10:15 Black Star are releasing their new Madlib-produced album in a few weeks. What to expect
19:24 Black Star are releasing their new album through an alternative distribution platform
28:14 Pusha T and JAY-Z have released their latest collaboration
32:37 Both JAY-Z and Pusha-T are using new flows on Neck & Wrist
35:55 JAY-Z raps about what his position in Hip-Hop would be if Biggie was still alive
38:18 JAY-Z dissed Faizon Love on Neck & Wrist
40:00 JAY-Z is the king of sneak disses. Decoding some of his subliminal lines and listing his many targets
1:20:39 ScHoolboy Q shows his growth as a man on his new Soccer Dad song
1:30:20 Kidd Creole from Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five is convicted of manslaughter
1:32:05 New music of the week from Big K.R.I.T., Smoke DZA, Wiz Khalifa & Girl Talk, Vince Staples, Quelle Chris, Termanology & Paul Wall, Method Man, Redman & KRS-One, and more.
Yasiin Bey Discusses The Drama That’s Caused Him To Fall Back From The Music Business (Video)
AFH readers can catch regular discussions about the culture on our What’s The Headline. The podcast also has interviews with Joell Ortiz, AZ, Blu & Mickey Factz, Kurupt, Evidence, Skyzoo, Pharoahe Monch, Prince Paul & Don Newkirk, Statik Selektah, Lyric Jones, The LOX, MC Eiht, Havoc, Duckwrth, photographer T. Eric Monroe, and Lord Finesse. All episodes of the show are available to view or for listening wherever you stream your pods.
#BonusBeat: An AFH exclusive of Talib Kweli discussing the genius of MF DOOM and Madlib’s Madvillainy: