What do I need to know?
Mos Def and Talib Kweli are Blackstar. The track, as Kweli alludes to in the opening verse, is based on the ‘The Bluest Eye’ by Toni Morrison. The book, among various themes, focuses on how the black communities standards of beauty, values and morals are set by white American society.
What’s the story?
Mos and Kweli go in questioning the mainstream value system. Kweli lays the foundation questioning whether money is the root of all evil or is it embedded in the human psyche. The hook,
Not strong (Only aggressive)
Not free (We only licensed)
Not compassionate, only polite (Now who the nicest?)
Not good but well behave
is lifted straight from the final page of the book. Mos takes the hook and theme and delivers probably the best verse on the entire album.
This life is temporary but the soul is eternal
Separate the real from the lie, let me learn you
Not strong, only aggressive, cause the power ain’t directed
That’s why, we are subjected to the will of the oppressive
Not free, we only licensed, not live, we just exciting
Cause the captors own the masters to what we writing
Not compassionate, only polite, we well trained
Our sincerity’s rehearsed and staged, it’s just a game
Not good, but well behaved cause the camera survey
Most of the things that we think, do or say
We chasin after death just to call ourselves brave
But everyday, next man meet with the grave
I give a damn if any fan recall my legacy
I’m trying to live life in the sight of God’s memory like that y’all
Is it any good?
This is my favorite Blackstar song. 88 Keys does his thing with a melodic track fitting the mood and Mos, who has always been a dope emcee, seemed to really begin to take it to another level on the whole album and this track in particular before dropping the classic ‘Black on Both Sides’.
Type of knowledge dropped?
Book knowledge since its the audio summary of sorts of The Bluest Eye’ but also cultural by way of the content of the novel.