Black Star

The first of two “definition”-themed songs (peep the remix), “Definition” was released in August 1998 as the first single from the Mos Def and Talib Kweli are Black Star album.

It flips several songs by Boogie Down Productions: Hi-Tek’s beat is a reworking of “The P is Free,” the hook is an interpolation of “Stop the Violence,” and Mos throws in a line from “The Bridge Is Over”.

This song is Black Star’s take on violence in hip-hop and their disdain for the violent themes in rap songs following the murders of 2Pac in 1996 and The Notorious B.I.G. in 1997.

Producer Hi-Tek said the following about the track:

I went home to my Cincinnati studio and just did what I felt from it. I think I made the beat on the MPC60. Basically, I just flipped the ‘P Is Free’ beat and put my own thing on it. I gave Mos the beat and he liked it. He flew me and Kweli out to LA— he was out there doing some movie stuff—and found a studio through a good friend of ours. Even when he gave me the idea, I felt like it was too simple for me. At the time, I felt like I had something to prove to separate myself from a lot of other East Coast producers. I always try to do something different.