Jewelz – Blackstar “Thieves in the Night”

bluest-eye

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.
[message_box title=”Additional Details” color=”white”]Artist: Black Star
Album: Mos Def & Kweli are…
Year Released: 1998
Producer: 88 Keys
Label: Rawkus

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Jewelz – Brother Ali ” Mourning in America”

mourning-in-america-500x303

What do I need to know?

The War on Terror in its current form began after the attacks of September 11th when terrorists committed attrocities on the U.S. It’s the military campaign that has taken soldiers to various parts of the globe to combat Al-Qaeda. It has also led to loss of life on both sides with no real end in sight.

What’s the story?

On Mourning in America Brother Ali aims to convince that a War on Terror and those perceived to be the terrorists is truly in the eye of the beholder. While Ali touches on the many issues with the military campaigns overseas, he mainly uses domestic examples of acts of terrorism and the ramifications of warzones that resemble any impoverished hood in America. This is important because it holds up a mirror to those who may be dealing with the exact same fears, challenges and issues of the “enemy.”

Who’s the true guerilla
When the bomb on your body killing innocent civilians
But a life is a life and a killer is a killer
You’re at a desk chillin’ push a button kill a million

See the anguish of the parents
When they’re carrying the body of the baby that they cherish
When innocent people perish
It’s a very thin line between a soldier and a terrorist

Is it any good?

The entire Mourning in America and Dreaming in Color album is a nice piece of sonic work by the Minnesota Rhymesayer. The title track along with Letter to my Countrymen are examples of Ali’s more overt political statements on the record. He can spit with the best of them but I am appreciating his increasing focus on statements and messages while avoiding being too preachy.

Type of knowledge dropped?

Political and cultural no doubt.
[message_box title=”Additional Details” color=”white”]Artist: Brother Ali
Album: Mourning in America and Dreaming in Color
Year Released: 2012
Producer: Jake One
Label: Rhymesayers

 

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Jewelz – Mos Def aka Yasiin Bey “New World Water”

NWW

What do I need to know?

Conspiracy theorists believe a group, The New World Order, Illuminati, etc. (pick your poison) is secretly plotting the take over and ruling of the world. The Mighty Mos Def now more commonly known as Yasiin Bey plays off that idea and points out what some would call proof of such a plot by pontificating on the commodification of H2O. Or more plainly, ‘Water used to be free but now it cost you a fee because its all about getting that cash money!!’

What’s the story?

Mos opens the discussion listing out our various earthly needs for the precious resource and then takes greedy corporations to task for their role in contaminating the water only to turn around and sell the filtered version for profit. It’s a cold, cold world.

Used to be free now it cost you a fee
Cause oil tankers spill they load as they roam cross the sea
Man, you gotta cook with it, bathe and clean with it (That’s right)
When it’s hot, summertime you fiend for it (Let em know)
You gotta put it in the iron you steamin with (That’s right)
It’s what they dress wounds and treat diseases with (Shout it out)
The rich and poor, black and white got need for it (That’s right)
And everybody in the world can agree with this (Let em know)
Consumption promotes health and easiness (That’s right)
Go too long without it on this earth and you leavin it (Shout it out)
Americans wastin it on some leisure shit (Say word?)
And other nations be desperately seekin it (Let em know)
Bacteria washing up on they beaches (Say word?)
Don’t drink the water, son they can’t wash they feet with it (Let em know)
Young babies in perpetual neediness (Say word?)
Epidemics hopppin up off the petri dish (Let em know)
Control centers try to play it all secretive (Say word?)
To avoid public panic and freakiness (Let em know)
There are places where TB is common as TV
Cause foreign-based companies go and get greedy
The type of cats who pollute the whole shore line
Have it purified, sell it for a dollar twenty-five

Is it any good?

Yasiin Bey (still getting used to that one) practically never disappoints on the mic. Happy to say that he comes through again here with two poignant verses filled with bars aimed at you 3rd eye over a Beatnuts track as refreshing as a cool glass of ahh forget it….

Type of knowledge dropped?

Mos is always good for some cultural knowledge. Unfortunately, everything he is speaking on is very common practice today and I can guarantee that regardless when you read this there likely has been some recent oil spill or contamination that everyone will get up in arms about and then quickly forget.

[message_box title=”Additional Details” color=”white”]Artist: Mos Def aka Yasiin Bey
Album: Black on Both Sides
Year Released: 1999
Producer: Beatnuts
Label: Rawkus

 

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