Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The Ecstatic

by Mos Def
This is one of those strange classic albums, where during the first play or two, it sounds good; after a few more plays, it starts to sound better, but at the same time, a little innocuous; and then, you leave it in your car for a while, forget it exists, re-discover it, and get blown away by how many songs on it are ipod-worthy.

Having just rediscovered The Ecstatic, I can say it's an incredible album. Playing it again tonight after a few months absence, I am totally surprised by how many tracks I greeted by thinking, 'oh yah, I love this song'.

I had just about given up on Mos after True Magic, but with this disk, he displays his supremacy in the world of popular-yet-still-good hip-hop. The album opens with 'Supermagic', over Oh No's 'Heavy' beat, which is an oldie-but-goodie, and then shifts, after a standard Neptunes-y track (by 1/2 of the Neptunes), to 'Auditorium', one of Madlib's better beats off the Beat Konducta in India album. (I remember wondering if maybe Mos went by a yard sale at Stones Throw). This song, featuring Slick Rick, is an interesting item; Mos goes as hard as he ever has, while Rick raps this odd bit about being a soldier in Iraq. It's pretty dissonant, but cool none the less.

It's nice to see Mos return to a more hip-hop oriented album. He's always been an impressive lyricist, and he fills this album with a nice blend of producers, from underground stars like Madlib and Oh No, an up-and-comer like Georgia Anne Muldrow, and his usual collaborator Preservation. There's the requisite J. Dilla track, 'History', featuring Talib Kweli, that makes me wish there could have been a Black Star/Dilla album. It's probably my favourite track on here.

My complaints: there's a lengthy and annoying skit about airplane hijacking that just irritates me, and the album liner notes don't credit the song's producers. It's not all about you Mos...

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