Stop Hiding

Produced and sung by Mos Def and Talib Kweli, who refer to themselves as “Blackstar”, The song “Thieves in the Night” was released on September 29, 1998 and is their 12th track in their debut album. The song represents and inquiry of how life is like in the hoods of New York, in which the style of the song is much like a spoken word performance.

In the first verse, Talib Kweli Starts by referencing Toni Morrison’s “The Bluest eye” in which he asks the black community why their priorities and cultural understandings are determined by the white community. He then goes on to state that the neglect from the government until someone within the community commits a crime, then their entire population is shaped by the authoritative figure in order to “create crime rates to fill the new prisons they built“. Its a short verse, but Talib Kweli’s speaking makes sure that every word in every stanza means something different on every aspect of the black communities trials and tribulations.

In the second verse, Mos Def examines the way people within his community act like nothing is wrong with their state of life and where they are.

“A lot of jokers out running in place, chasing the style,

A lot going on beneath the empty smile”

The lines above summarizes the rest of the verse that Mos Def constructs, In which he also explains that the black community is forced into a personality of happy go-luckiness so that authoritative figures could ignore them entirely. Mos Def’s entire verse ties in to the chorus and the whole meaning of this song:

Not strong, only aggressive, not free, we only licensed
Not compassionate only polite, now who the nicest
Not good, but well behaved
Chasing after death so we can call ourselves brave?
Still living like mental slaves
Hiding like thieves in the night from life
Illusions of oasis making you look twice
Hiding like thieves in the night from life
Illusions of oasis making you look twice”

This Chorus is a summation of what the black community has to put up with in order to not be the focus of the government and the policing system. Mos Def and Talib Kweli put together a song that clearly this all in the style of spoken word/poetry. They don’t specifically say that but they refer to that as if they were adding pieces of a puzzle.

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