Black Star arose from the underground movement of the late 1990s, which was in large part due to Rawkus Records, an independent record label stationed in New York City. They released one self titled album. Though the record achieved little commercial success, they (and other members of the Native Tongues Posse) helped shape underground alternative rap and helped bring it further into the mainstream eye. Both have gone on to greater commercial and critical success in separate solo careers.
Black Star's emergence into the hip-hop scene came at a crucial point in music history. Following the deaths of both Biggie Smalls and Tupac Shakur, hip-hop was consumed in a world of chaos. Black Star attempted to bring reconciliation in the wake of these violent deaths. The self titled album contains various references to Biggie and Tupac, and attempts to create reconciliation in the hip-hop world: "I said one, two, three. It's kinda dangerous to be an M.C. They shot Tupac and Biggie. Too much violence in hip-hop."
In 2001, Black Star performed "Money Jungle" with Ron Carter and John Patton for the Red Hot Organization's compilation album Red Hot + Indigo, a tribute to Duke Ellington, which raised money for various charities devoted to increasing AIDS awareness and fighting the disease. In 2005, hip hop website TheSituation.co.uk reported Kweli has said that a new Black Star album was "in the pipeline". On Talib Kweli's Myspace he posted up a video saying that "We're going to find Mos Def and put it on camera that there will be a second Black Star album." In 2006, Mos and Kweli appeared together in the movie Dave Chappelle's Block Party, alongside Erykah Badu, Common, Jill Scott, Dead Prez and The Fugees, among others. They even contributed a new song, "Born & Raised", to the movie's soundtrack.
The first new Black Star song was leaked via DJ J Rocc from Stones Throw Records. The song is produced by Madlib and is titled "Fix Up". On October 5th 2011 they appeared on the Colbert Report and performed it for the first time.