By Christopher “DiZ” Lamb
It has been a long three years for fans of the legendary Mos Def. After the release of experimental (yet still decent) opus, The New Danger in 2004 and the universally panned True Magic in 2006, fans watched in fear; fear of whether Mos would revert back to the jazzy vibes and peerless lyricism that shone bright on his excellent debut, Black On Both Sides. Despite being well publicized during videos on YouTube in a drunken fashion as of late (there’s a sense of irony that most will fail to realize until listening to The Ecstatic), fans of Mos Def has good reason to be ecstatic….
The Ecstatic begins Mos’ return to prominence with “Supermagic” as the Boogeyman bursts out of the gate with his unhinged brand of lyrical genius, declaring his return before switching up his flow to perfectly compliment the tuba-laced bassline of “Twilite Speedball”. Mos enlists the legendary Slick Rick to join him on “Auditorium” as the two drop conscious gems over Madlib’s almost mesmerizing backdrop (the latter dropping a show-stealing narrative).
“Priority” and “Quiet Dog (Bite Hard)” act as lyrical exhibitions for Mighty Mos before he blesses the Middle-Eastern influenced “The Embassy” with his lyrical mindstate. “Pistola” is the ever-popular “love” song that every emcee HAS to do, but leave it to Dante to leave his listeners pondering: Is he talking about the gun or the woman?
“Workers Comp” sees Mos flipping his socio-political wordplay to address the current state of the American economy while the sincere “Roses” features Mos going into a short, but sweet tour de force. Mos Def and Talib Kweli reunite as BlackStar on the exquisite “History” as the two potent lyricists trade verses over the late J. Dilla’s excellent production and memories of nostalgia arise of their time as BlackStar. The Ecstaticcomes to a fair conclusion with one final lyrical exercise in “Casa Bey”, Mos’ most recent single.
The Ecstaticstands as a great opus to add to Mos’ (spotty?) catalog and it stands, virtually, without faults. When the official tracklisting dropped, comparisons to Madvillian’s Madvillany were sure to occur. Most of the cuts are rather short and the conscious wordplay compliments the odd, yet sexy production. The format of The Ecstatic is a bit off; it flows flawlessly between tracks as if it were one huge track, but the eclectic nature of the production makes the flow purely physical in its flawlessness.
The biggest problem with The Ecstatic lies in the same nature as the one Nas has to deal with: the eternal sophomore jinx. For the remainder of his career, all of his works will be compared to Black On Both Sides (or if you want to get technical, Mos Def & Talib Kweli are BlackStar). While The New Danger & True Magic failed to reach such a platform, The Ecstatic is the closest that Mos has gotten to meeting the bar that he set with Both Sides. If this is a taste of things to come from one of New York’s “Thieves in The Night”, then Mighty Mos may be nearing that apex, but until then The Ecstatic stands as his strongest effort since his immaculate debut.
4 mics (out of 5)
For the full, and unabridged review of The Ecstatic, click here.