CD review: The Ecstatic

the-ecstaticOver the past decade, no artist has done more to frustrate a loyal fanbase than Mos Def. From hinting at a Black Star reunion and never following through, to promising to release a rap-rock record only to abandon the idea, to releasing thrown together and hardly promoted work like “True Magic,” to “Drunk and Hot Girls,” to his inscrutable turn in “16 Blocks,” following the Mighty Mos has been a study in disappointment.

And so it was with much trepidation that I listened to his first new CD in nearly three years (I could never find “True Magic” in any store, so I hadn’t heard a full-length from Mos since 2004’s “The New Danger”). I was prepared to be underwhelmed, so I am thrilled to report that this is a solid album.

Of course, this isn’t the mind-bending, fully realized work that fans feel like Mos is capable of producing, although at this point, I’m not sure we’re ever going to see that album. So, we will have to be satisfied with Mos sounding rejuvenated and actually like he’s enjoying working on his craft instead of fulfilling contractual obligations.

Mos has always been a critical darling, so it’s no surprise that quality work from him has produced rapturous reviews from the likes of Pitchfork and Spin.

And for the most part, the album is deserving of those accolades. Personally, the first eight songs on the record are all strong, including singles “Life in Marvelous Times” and “Quiet Dog,” both of which have been getting a surprising amount of random media play – for example, “Quiet Dog” was the featured song during the MLB Network’s weekly highlights package.

But the standout of the entire album is the sublime “Auditorium,” in which Mos and Slick Rick trade verses over a Madlib-produced Middle-Eastern-influenced beat. It’s an amazing song that sounds good and has something to say, which I think is what Mos Def fans enjoy about his work.

I’m not as sold on the second half of the album, especially the awkward 1-2 punch of “No Hey Nada Mas” and “Pistola,” but “Workers Comp” and album-ender “Casa Bey” pick up the pace nicely.  

In the end, I’m just glad the Mos Def we know and love has decided to come back into the fold. Let’s hope it’s not another five years before he releases something else of substance.

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~ by Elliott on June 18, 2009.

One Response to “CD review: The Ecstatic”

  1. I have the true magic at home i will have to bring it in.

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