They're busy people, Blackstar....

THEY’RE BUSY PEOPLE, Blackstar. Mos Def moonlights as a TV actor while fellow rapper Talib Kweli works in a Brooklyn bookshop and organises poetry readings. However, proving themselves smart-asses incarnate, they’ve still found time to ‘knock out’ this utterly meritorious debut album.

Aided by the keen talents of producers like DJ Hi Tek, ‘Blackstar’ sees them understanding exactly what they want to achieve and then getting the job done masterfully. On ‘Children’s Story’ they update Slick Rick’s vintage cut so that where it previously warned kiddies against a life of crime, it now advises against sampling huge clods of R&B and joining the pop-hop posse. ‘B Boys Will B Boys’ celebrates the old school without doing a pointless Xerox job on the past, while ‘Respiration’ focuses on accurately documenting life in New York City over a glowing backdrop of looping beats and sultry funk. Mission achieved, every time.

Though it’s getting crowded out there in hip-hop’s post-playa territory, the humour, intuition and inspired deployment of rhythms and samples here say it’s worth making Blackstar one of your first ports of call. No malice intended, but let’s just hope they don’t get too far in their other careers just yet.