October 12, 2014

Mos Def "Black On Both Sides" (CMJ, 9/99)

"Like his peers in the illustrious Native Tongues collective, Black Star lyricist / musician Mos Def is both a student and advocate of hip-hop culture and, more specifically, of hip-hop music as a form of free expression. His solo debut, Black On Both Sides, is simply one of the most unhindered and aesthetically ambitious hip-hop records in recent memory. Flipping creamy-smooth verbal science with the precision of such peers as Nas or the Roots, Def drops head-nodding, b-boy verbiage on the cuts "Speed Law" and "Do It Now," the latter of which features Busta Rhymes." Cont'd below...

"But Mos Def exhibits the same effortless imagination when he sings the dreamy, soulful "Climb," a duet with Vinia Mojica. Free of the self-imposed limitations that often hinder other rap acts, Def employs slick verses ("I don't be tryin' to fuck with Limp Bizkit / When I get down in my zone / I be rockin' Bad Brains and Fishone"), thumping funk breaks and bottomless soul to transcend the status quo. And when he's not laying down his own basslines, Def can even be heard messing with punk rock or reworking a Chili Peppers hit for added effect." - CMJ New Music Monthly, 9/99