Once upon a time, Mos Def was perhaps one of the most preeminent MCs within the music industry. Critics and fans alike pined for a new full-length rap album which was somewhat answered with 2006’s True Magic. It was definitely rap but it was far from good, marking a disastrous ending to his partnership with Geffen. It became obvious with this why he had otherwise concerned himself entirely with acting (to relative success) and diversions such as The New Danger (a personal favourite but a sentiment not often shared).
Thankfully, his newest outing, The Ecstatic is something that does not necessarily have to feel overshadowed by the classics Black On Both Sides and Black Star; although not necessarily as overt, its subtle rhymes, assuredness and often complete nonsensical nature surrenders yet more layers of richness with subsequent listening. Q-Tip’s recent The Renaissance has set a high bar for Obama inheritance and Mos Def establishes himself once again as an heir to the MC king’s crown.
Perhaps two of the most powerful tracks come in the forms of History, a reunion with his former Black Star partner Talib Kweli and Roses, a deep, heaving piece of lyrical creativity. For those used to Stones Throw label, they will find this album significantly more accessible since there are productions by artists such as J Dilla and Madlib’s Indian Beat Konducta series. Regardless, despite such highlights and a potential nonchalant attitude upon first listen, The Ecstatic does not ebb and flow but maintain a wondrous consistency.