Talib Kweli became one of the most critically acclaimed rappers of his time when he rapped alongside Mos Def and DJ Hi-Tek as part of the group Black Star. This trio of up-and-comers and their widely acclaimed self-titled 1998 album debut helped make Rawkus Records one of the premier hip-hop outposts of the late '90s. In the process, they ushered in a short-lived "hip-hop" revival that took the music back to its roots, and thus away from the increasingly extreme and widespread gangsta motifs of the time. Black Star and their label, Rawkus, provided a clear alternative not only to gangsta rap but also to the watered-down and overly calculated pop-rap of Puff Daddy and his ilk. In 2000, Kweli and Hi-Tek then followed up this wide-ranging critical notice with a second acclaimed release for Rawkus: their Reflection Eternal album, which firmly established them apart from Mos Def, who enjoyed plenty of his own acclaim. For a moment there, Kweli and his Rawkus peers seemed like a full-fledged movement -- a return to the sort of hip-hop associated with the so-called golden age. However, it wasn't to be. Rawkus somehow lost its momentum, and its roster sadly dispersed, leaving Kweli on his own to carry the torch. He steadily continued his output, beginning with Quality in 2002, and though he didn't rack up towering sales numbers, he remained a critical favorite. In fact, he just may have been the most admired and respected rapper on the major-label circuit during the mid-2000s, best evidenced by Jay-Z's famous Black Album rhyme: "If skills sold, truth be told/I'd probably be, lyrically, Talib Kweli.