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Black Star at House of Blues

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Before Mos Def (pictured) became a movie star and one of the world's best MCs for one Rawkus Records release in 1998, he and Talib Kweli were Black Star: an ephemeral duo whose eponymous joint debut sold poorly but told plenty — of mutual appreciation for their color and culture, and of mutual opposition to the murderous factions that at the time were threatening to consume hip hop like a cancer. Both warmer and cooler, more melodic and less canonical than Mos' emphatic follow-up Black on Both Sides, it skillfully borrows from all manners of black artists — Slick Rick to Gil-Scott Heron, Boogie Down Productions to Toni Morrison — to weave a celebratory mosaic of black artistry. Musically, it's a two-man brass band, with Mos the tuba, all choppy and blustery, and Kweli the trumpet, smooth and unflappable. Lyrically, Mos separates himself as a self-professed "real-life documentarian," dividing his staccato chides like a metric savant: "I find it's distressing, there's never no in-between/ We either n—s or kings, we either bitches or queens/ The deadly ritual seems/ immersed in the perverse/ Full of short attention spans, short tempers and short skirts." The pair's divergent paths have made the long-promised Black Star 2 into a carrot on a string (it was first announced in 2005). With this surprise monthlong tour — billed as a start-to-finish Black Star performance — that string is getting shorter. The Stooges Brass Band opens. Tickets $43. — Noah Bonaparte Pais


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