Is there a bigger rap enigma than Mos Def? Andre 3000 is up there but Iâ€™m going with old Dante. On one hand, heâ€™s among hip hopâ€™s premier performers with charisma to spare and he has two certified classics under his belt (Mos Def and Talib Kweli are Black Star and Black on Both Sides). On the other, he releases self-indulgent rock/rap albums (The New Danger) while endorsing GMC Denalis.
Well, that sound of a million screaming backpackers must mean heâ€™s back. His newest album, True Magic, is scheduled to drop in January. Which Mos shows up this time? Both do, actually.
There are spots on the album that showcase Mosâ€™ pound for pound talent. On the opening track, for example, Mosâ€™ flow is matched over a jazzy Black Star-esque beat. And he brings it on the hip hop anti-love song, â€œU R the One,â€ capturing the regret and ill will of a bad break up. But, at 33, Mos is a veteran in a young manâ€™s game, which could explain his penchant for self-indulgence. I really could do with a little less preaching, the most obvious offense being â€œKatrina Clap.â€ Yo Dante, leave the Katrina songs to Juvie.
Is it worth a listen? Yeah, it is, at least to witness the next step in his artistic evolution. And while itâ€™s half as good as Black on Both Sides, Iâ€™ll take black on one side over The New Danger any day.