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Mos Def: The Ecstatic (Review)

It has been two and a half years since the release of Mos Def’s True Magic, but the rapper, born Dante Smith, returns to Hip-Hop after his lengthy sabbatical.

 

The return comes in the form of The Ecstatic, his fourth solo album.

At this point, Mos is an acquired flavor of Hip-Hop that one hopes will pierce the trappings of traditional media and commercially tinged outlets.

 

The Ecstatic is highly representative of the balance so needed in Hip-Hop, but its redeeming value is so much more.

From the first song, “Supermagic,” the authority of Mos Def’s distinctive, nasal voice is evident over a feverish guitar riff. He’s got that BK bluster, but offers a unique conscious and educational perspective that seems natural, nearly formless. From this moment on, there is no doubt that Mos Def is back.

The rest of the album overwhelmingly demonstrates Mos Def’s natural ability to weave tales and project his ideals. One such song is “Wahid,” which is laced with Muslim musical sentiments.

 

Mos spits, “The old timers say we living in the final days/ Gunsmoke, young folk living any kinda way/ Gangster holiday, gritty states’ a hideaway/ Meanwhile soldiers take it straight through their armor plates.”

So, even for the fan, Mos will probably make you retrain your Hip-Hop ear, because he’s one of one. His inimitable style is demonstrated on other songs like the boom bap of “Twilite Speedball,” the minimalist “Quiet Dog Bite Hard,” and the thought provoking, “Priority.”

 

On the latter song, Mos says, “Peace before everything thing/ God before anything/ Love before anything/ Real before everything/ Home before any place/ Truth before anything/ Style and stay radiate/ Love, power slay the hate.” At only a 1:23 song, you want more.

The Ecstatic clocks in at 16 tracks strong and it gets bigger and better as it goes along. “Life In Marvelous Times” elevates. “Auditiorium” with Slick Rick is impressive enough to justify a new album from The Ruler. He knocks it out of the park with “History” with Blackstar partner Talib Kewli.

There are some instances where you want more from Mos – more energy, more engagement – as it’s the case with “Pretty Danger.” More than anything, absorbed listeners will appreciate risks like “Roses” with Georgia Anne Muldrow, which clearly indicate that Mos Def is operating on a plane reserved for passengers like Andre 3000, Lauryn Hill and others.

If you aren’t already a fan of Mos Def, it is unlikely that his gravitational pull on The Ecstatic will yank you into his universe, but if the casual listener does venture out, they will likely stay on this flight into the stars.

Track Listing

Supermagic

Twilite Speedball

Auditorium – Mos Def,

Wahid

Priority

Quiet Dog Bite Hard

Life in Marvelous Times

Embassy

No Hay Nada Mas

Pistola

Pretty Dancer

Workers Comp

Revelations

Roses

History

Casa BeyClick here for audio samples.

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