by: Rahul Reddy
Read the Orginal Review
Normally I’m a big fan of Sun-J’s reviews. He brings dope insight to the variety of albums that he reviews, and shows he has an extensive knowledge in all sorts of genres of music. With that being said, this rebuttal is nothing against him but just his words against Mos Def’s The New Danger.
I do agree that The New Danger is no Black on Both Sides, but did we honestly expect a second Black on Both Sides? I am a big Mos Def fan, big enough to the point where my dad copped me Black on Both Sides as my 16th birthday gift. That first Mos solo means a lot to me, that album is one of the best hip-hop albums of all time. A lot has changed since he dropped that record, Clinton was in office and people were still scared of Y2K. Do you remember how old school that Y2K scare was!? Of course, the mighty Mos will find new passions and ways to perform his music. The problem is people had expectations that Mos Def’s second solo album would be Black on Both Sides 2, when it was advertised that he was going to be on another tip!
Anyone who pays close attention to Hip-Hop knew that Mos Def’s new record was going to emulate the freedom Andre 3000 took advantage of on The Love Below. His next project was suppose to be a rock album, and if you know Mos’s music, Rock N’ Roll is a huge passion of his. Black on Both Sides includes “Rock N’ Roll," a stinging joint about how overlooked the black side of Rock N’ Roll is, so for sure The New Danger was going to have some Black Jack Johnson influence. Mos Def is insanely talented, he has the ability to sing and rap with more fury than an angry Ron Artest. I am not mad he decided to sing on a lot of this record, shit he is damn good at it. Most Mos Def fans knew what kind of record Mos was going to put out, so to call his album a disappointment due to amazing expectations is not fair to him at all. Unless of course Mos Def came through with a whack record, but The New Danger is definitely a fresh record.
So let’s look at the genres Mos Def went after in this all-encompassing record. Blues, Hip-Hop, Soul (R&B – I don’t like saying r&b anymore since it reminds me of R. Kelly), and Rock among others. While the album got some rock influences, it’s not the whole record. “Blue Black Jack” is a true Blues track, and is definitely a banger. Hearing Mos spill his soul over the phatty guitar riffs from Shuggie Otis is easily a good thing. “Freaky Black Greetings,” “The Beggar,” and “The Easy Spell” are the other “Rock” joints, but Mos Def brings his own flavor to each track. “The Beggar” is on a N.E.R.D. tip with a dash of smooth sophistication from the Mighty Mos. You can’t deny Mos’s multi-talented steez the way he attacks all these genres.
Mos’s soul tracks on this album end up making the album. Sure, no one wants a whole album of “Umi Says,” but that’s not this album. My favorite song on the album is “Boogie Man Song” with sultry lyrics and some of the freshest production this side of the Mississippi from Raphael Saadiq. It’s not rhyming, but that track is brings more chills to the spine than a Wes Craven flick on acid. Then there is “Modern Marvel,” god dayumn this is butter on your breakfast toast! The homage to Marvin Gaye definitely gets my fingers snapping and hips swaying like I was at a Temptations concert. Mos Def croons “DESIRE” throughout the record, and I think he showed it on this track especially. Length should not be a determinate of the quality of a song anyway, fuck it I wanted the track to be even longer. “The Panties” got that lounge feel with sweet guitar licks that practically roll up that favorite tobacco product for you. “Bedstuy Parade and Funeral March” is another banger, with hard hitting production from Mos Def himself. Mos Def really stretches his creative hamstrings on this album, and it shows on all these different styles he attacks. Of course, you know the mighty Mos Def brings that fresh hip-hop as well.
It only takes a quick glance at the album inserts to realize Mos Def brings that raw hip-hop to his album. Easy Mo Bee, one of the main men behind Biggie’s classic Ready to Die, drops the flavor on “Zimzallabim.” This track got my mind traveling back to early 90’s hip-hop, which you know is a damn good thing. The lead single with the hard hitting production “Sex, Love, and Money” is easily one of my favorite radio singles this year. The flute sample is mad dope, Waryn Cambell gets mad props for the ear on that shit. “Ghetto Rock,” the follow up single produced by Minnesota, follows in the same footsteps with a hard hitting beat that your head knockin can’t deny. Minnesota shows up with lyrics and production on the infectious “Grown Man Business” which flips the Barry White sample that Ghost used on “The Watch.” It’s good to see someone got to release a joint with this sample, 'cause its definitely a banger!!
Mos Def’s scattered use of producers is definitely dope just because he has brought a raw, different sound to the game. He does however get the help of the biggest producer in Hip-Hop right now, Kanye West on “Sunshine.” The track screamed Black Star to me, but the Mighty Mos does do the beat justice. “Close Edge” brings that Grandmaster Flash funk. “The Rape Over” is Mos’s version of Jay-Z’s “Takeover” which takes pot shots at the industry. I sweat the raw sound of the track, and Mos going “MTV is running this rap sh*t” is definitely dope. Not enough artists in the hip-hop industry acknowledge where the art form is heading cause of commercialization. “Champion Requiem” ends the album on triumphant note. Ochenta’s production compliments Mos well where he proclaims “I’m a working person, my work is personal, I put in work, I work with purpose.” That quote is like my mantra right now, and you can’t deny the illness of Mos’s work on this album.
Sure the album got some tracks where Mos is singing or rocking out, but the album is still a hip-hop record. He rhymes on the majority of the tracks, and we should look at all the different styles he brings forth on the record as a blessing. The New Danger is a dope album, one of the best albums this year by far. Do I like it better than Black on Both Sides? No, but that’s not the point. The point is this is one of the most diverse, freshest, and best albums of the year. Mos Def’s injection of ghetto rock, blues, funk, R&B into hip-hop is smoother than Gary Coleman’s head. And that’s the damn truth.