Black Star, the hip hop moniker of Talib Kweli and Yasiin Bey (formerly Mos Def), hit the stage at the Best Buy Theater in Times Square Saturday night to perform two shows, their first in New York since releasing new material as Black Star for the first time since 1998.
Fans of the group have been hungry for a new record since their debut came out thirteen years ago, and now, after a series of dates around the country, including performances on the Rock The Bells tour this summer, Black Star is officially back. The duo recently unleashed two new tracks, debuting "Fix Up" on The Colbert Report October 5 and releasing "You Already Knew" as a free download on Black Friday, and announced plans to put out a new Aretha Franklin-inspired mix tape by the end of the year.
L-R: Black Star tour manager Latiefe Elliot, Blacksmith Management CEO Corey Smyth and Garden Grove Agency's Abdul Rahman hang out backstage at the Best Buy Theater
The two rappers were scheduled to perform the Black Star album and they made it through the majority, despite Bey's late arrival (due to traffic delays resulting from a late flight from New Orleans, where he was visiting family) resulting in Kweli opening the show alone. After performing a few tracks from his solo catalog, including "I'm On One" off his 2011 album Gutter Rainbows and "Distraction" off his upcoming album Prisoner of Conscious, which will be released next year, Bey arrived and they launched into "8th Light (Astronomy)."
Hanging out backstage were Corey Smyth of Blacksmith Management (Talib Kweli, Idle Warship), tour manager Latiefe Elliot, Abdul Rahman from Garden Grown Agency and Duck Down Records CEO Dru Ha, who helped distribute "Gutter Rainbows" and will be consulting for the distribution of a potential new Black Star album.
Kweli and Bey will continue performing dates next year together, and will be heading to Africa to record some new material with an eye on a new album, though no plans are set yet. "It's in the ether," said Smyth about the reasoning behind the group's reunion. "We've had a few false starts in the past, but it just feels right this time."
Duck Down Records CEO Dru Ha backstage at the Best Buy Theater
In addition to more Black Star dates and his new album next year, Kweli will also be performing with Idle Warship, whose album "Habits of the Heart" came out November 1. The group, fronted by soul singer Res, will be releasing a video for new single "Laser Beams" at the beginning of the year. Bey also has solo shows coming up in the next two months, including an appearance January 7 at Carnegie Hall to help commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Preservation Hall Jazz Band.