Black Star Make SNL Chappelle’s Show With 2 Stellar Performances

In 2016, the Saturday following a pivotal American election, Dave Chappelle hosted SNL in one of the sketch show’s more memorable moments of the last decade. That November 12 night, the musical guest was the recently reunited A Tribe Called Quest, making a rare performance following the death of Phife Dawg earlier that year. Six years later, Chappelle was back on SNL following another pivotal and unfolding election. This time, he brought another sacred New York City Hip-Hop collective: Black Star.

Before bringing out his musical guests, Chappelle kicked things off with an extended 15-minute monologue. In it, he spoke extensively about Kanye West, Donald Trump, the 2022 elections and other topics that have dominated the news cycle over the last several weeks.

Next, it was time for Black Star to work their magic. Talib Kweli and Yasiin Bey made a rare television appearance to promote their self-released 2022 LP, No Fear Of Time, which is produced by Madlib. Apart from a recent abbreviated Drink Champs episode that ran months after taping, the two veterans have kept a lower profile surrounding their first album in nearly 25 years. Chappelle, however, was a perfect puzzle piece. Mos and Talib recorded elements of the LP in Dave’s Yellow Springs, Ohio farm and venue. They also host a podcast with Chappelle, The Midnight Miracle. The pod’ is available on the same Luminary platform that has been the exclusive home to the new Black Star LP.

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On stage Saturday night (November 12), the dynamic duo—which Dave dubbed “Brooklyn’s finest,” performed “So be it,” the second song on No Fear Of Time. Yasiin rocked from his trademark old fashioned cord-mic, doing routines in unison with his partner and not ducking from the curse words. Madlib held down the turntables behind both men, while the lyrics projected on a screen to his rear. The three men deliver their performance in purist fashion—with rhymes, beats, precises deliveries, and no extra stuff.

In the second performance of the night, Black Star and Madlib performed “The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.” The highlight from No Fear Of Time was delivered to blue lights with all three artists donning sunglasses and cool demeanors.

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During the 2000s, Black Star was a musical fixture on Chappelle’s Show. They often used the platform to perform new music, arriving years after their 1998 Rawkus Records album, Mos Def & Talib Kweli Are Black Star. Beyond beats and rhymes, Mos Def frequently appeared in sketches. The group also premiered a song, “Born & Raised,” on Dave Chappelle’s Block Party.

Last month, Black Star appeared on Westside Gunn’s 10 album. That song, “Peppas,” and several others from Flygod, currently appear on the official Ambrosia For Heads playlist.

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#BonusBeat: Ambrosia For Heads’ What’s The Headline podcast reviewed Black Star’s No Fear Of Time back in May: