Talib Kweli reflects on new Black Star album, ‘No Fear of Time’

The rap duo of Kweli and Yasiin Bey's first album in over two decades is available exclusively on Luminary.

It’s been 24 years since Black Star, the rap duo of Talib Kweli and Mos Def, released their critically acclaimed debut album, Mos Def and Talib Kweli are Black Star. On Tuesday, the group returned with their long-awaited sophomore album, No Fear of Time.

Kweli and Mos Def, now known as Yasiin Bey, first revealed that they were recording their second album back in 2018, with the entire project produced by Madlib. In 2019, Kweli stated the album was done, but the release was held back by lawyers, managers, as well as “interlopers and culture vultures.” 

After over two decades and numerous solo efforts from Kweli and Bey, a new Black Star album is finally out and available to fans exclusively through the streaming service, Luminary. Kweli spoke with NPR about the release of the album and the meaning behind its title.

Talib Kweli thegrio.com
(Photo by Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for Ozy Fusion Fest 2017)

“I would say that the main message is ‘no fear of time’ — to not let time, money, clout, trends dictate how you move,” Kweli said. “And to be closer to whatever your core is, whether it’s a belief in God, whether it’s a set of morals that you follow. Getting closer to what your core is.”

Kweli elaborated on the decision to make No Fear of Time exclusive to Luminary, a subscription-based podcast service. Rather than make it available at typical streaming services like Spotify, where people can hear it for free, Kweli contends that it’s about him and Bey getting the pay they deserve.

“People spend money on things that are important to them, but when you ask them to support art, they balk,” Kweli said. “Because why wouldn’t somebody go to a Spotify where you could pay $10 to hear any song you want? The onus is on me as the creator to figure out and set the price point and tell the people what my art is worth.”

Both Kweli and Bey co-host the podcast series, The Midnight Miracle, with comedian Dave Chappelle, which is exclusive to Luminary.

Kweli says that Black Star got their name from Marcus Garvey and the Black Star Line ships he was creating for Black Americans to return to Africa. He says that he and Bey “stand tall on the shoulders of our ancestors” and embracing their legacy was a determining factor for their return as a group.

“So with Black Star, we’ve always been about hip-hop, about Pan-Africanism, spirituality, all these things that are necessary for the liberation of our people. And I think it’s timely that we come back now.”

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