18 Songs, 1 Hour 14 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

Like his peers Andre 3000 and Common, Mos Def has created an album that intends to transcend rap and incorporate several decades of African-American music. “Freaky Black Greetings” and “The Easy Spell” are among the tracks that feature Black Jack Johnson, Mos Def’s aggregate backing band featuring members of Living Colour, Bad Brains, and Funkadelic. While the band’s amalgamation of heavy metal, blues, and funk is sharply different from his old style, the music roils with all the dark energy you would expect from a group of superior talent. Even as he ventures into uncharted territory, Mos keeps one foot firmly planted in his hip-hop past. “Sex, Love & Money,” “Close Edge” and “Life Is Real” recall the author’s well-loved work with Black Star, while “The Beggar” and “The Panties” are soulful excursions that extend the atmosphere of “Umi Says,” from Black on Both Sides. The album’s best tracks are “Zimzallabim” and “War,” glorious mergers of full-band funk and sly beats that reconcile Mos Def’s aggravated adventurousness with his purist spirit.

EDITORS’ NOTES

Like his peers Andre 3000 and Common, Mos Def has created an album that intends to transcend rap and incorporate several decades of African-American music. “Freaky Black Greetings” and “The Easy Spell” are among the tracks that feature Black Jack Johnson, Mos Def’s aggregate backing band featuring members of Living Colour, Bad Brains, and Funkadelic. While the band’s amalgamation of heavy metal, blues, and funk is sharply different from his old style, the music roils with all the dark energy you would expect from a group of superior talent. Even as he ventures into uncharted territory, Mos keeps one foot firmly planted in his hip-hop past. “Sex, Love & Money,” “Close Edge” and “Life Is Real” recall the author’s well-loved work with Black Star, while “The Beggar” and “The Panties” are soulful excursions that extend the atmosphere of “Umi Says,” from Black on Both Sides. The album’s best tracks are “Zimzallabim” and “War,” glorious mergers of full-band funk and sly beats that reconcile Mos Def’s aggravated adventurousness with his purist spirit.

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