Mos Def - The Ecstatic
His seeming impatience has always been Mos Def’s undoing. His debut 1999’s Black on Both Sides, remains a modern classic, but beyond that and his 1998 collaboration with Talib Kweli as Black Star, his frankly patchy musical career has been squeezed in between acting gigs. To be fair, he was always supposed to be an actor, but got famous for rapping first and now that imbalance is more vivid than ever.
This, his fourth solo album, is a jittering unsteady beast, teetering around under the weight of the ideas thrown into the mix, leaping from one continent to another, slamming politically charged invective against smitten sweet soul and juddering King Tubby dub shocks. The variety is no bad thing though as it does show his continued ability to adapt his treacley flow to all terrain. Lyrically, he has his fiery moments, but throws out as many empty, uneven brickbats as he does lyrical livewires. The thing is, he still has his own unique rhythmic way with words, something that will never leave him. Momentarily magical.