Early 2000s rap nerds, rejoice; Kanye West is apparently once again working with rap icons Yasiin Bey (FKA Mos Def) and Talib Kweli. It’s a latter-day Rawkus Records reunion as West returns to his “first n—-a with a Benz and a backpack” roots to cook something up with his friends. At least, that’s what it looks like from the Instagram photo Kweli just posted with a cryptic caption.
“2018 is looking good…” Kweli wrote on the photo, which captures Kanye hunched over a table liberally covered in yellow note paper while in presumably in conversation with Bey. Now, those notes could be anything from song ideas to takeout orders, so it’s probably best not to get too excited, but teenage me would probably be doing backflips (okay, that’s an exaggeration — I was never that athletic). However, Kanye West did more or less get his start as a rapper touring with the members of Black Star, while both appeared on his debut album The College Dropout, on “Get ‘Em High” (Kweli) and “Two Words” (Mos Def).
He also continued producing for each on their own solo projects with his classic, looped soul samples appearing on Kweli’s highest-charting song to date, “Get By,” from his debut solo album, Quality, and on “Sunshine” from Mos’ second album, The New Danger. Mos also lifted Kanye’s The Doors-sampling “The Takeover,” from Jay-Z’s The Blueprint for his own incendiary takedown of the music industry titled “The Rape Over.”
Whether or not anything actually comes of this collaboration, it’s good to see things come full circle for the trio, and if we actually do get any music out of it, based on their prior output, it’s certain to be among the best of all three catalogs.