|As part of the ''Respect the Classics'' tribute to rap icon Talib Kweli's four historic Rawkus Records albums, the underground classic, Mos Def & Talib Kweli are Black Star, is presented in a limited edition two-tone black on black picture disc.|
Mos Def & Talib Kweli are Black Star was released on August 18, 1998, to critical acclaim. The title is a reference to the Black Star Line, a shipping company founded by Pan-Africanist Marcus Garvey. The album deals with modern-day issues, philosophies and life in Brooklyn. The two MCs had planned to release solo albums around the same time, but decided instead to collaborate on a full-length album. The first single, ''Definition (song),'' is a reaction to hip-hop's fascination with death, dedicated to both Tupac Shakur and the Notorious B.I.G., with a chorus that gives a nod to Boogie Down Productions' ''Stop the Violence.'' ''Children's Story'' is a re-imagination of the Slick Rick original, featuring Mos Def cautioning against materialism. The second single, ''Respiration,'' featuring Common, includes a Hi-Tek produced beat that samples Don Randi's ''The Fox'' and another from the hip-hop documentary Style Wars. The track offers a melancholy ode to city life, with references to organic life functions such as breathing, eating and sleeping, but with an ominous edge, as Kweli raps about ''sitting on shitty steps/we stooped to new lows, hell froze/the night the city slept.''