By Falice Chin
Nowadays, too many people know how to just loop a catchy sample. Let’s face it, in these times the bar has been raised. But enter the worthy Mos Def–half of Blackstar, part-time movie star and a brilliant musician .
His second solo The New Danger is like the splattered paint of Pollock–complexly organic and steeped in darkness. Flirting with a multitude of styles, Mos Def creates something part-hard rock, part-Marvin Gaye and even a dabble of ambient music.
Melancholy, his raps and vocals carry a bitter sweet and sometimes angry sentiments. “Sunshine”, for example, begins with a spy movie beat, while soft string music cuts the song in the middle and heavy metal music, complete with shouts and screams, finishes off the track. Mos Def understands the power of minimalism, hence a few trip-hop tracks like “The Panties.”
Even more impressive is “The Beggar”, a soulful, emotional track comparable to a Nina Simone classic. Through his efforts, Mos Def has outshone Black Thought, Talib Kweli, K-os, Andre 3000 and Common.
Mos Def introduces his band Black Jack Johnson (not to be confused with Ben Harper’s friend Jack Johnson) in this new album. Live drum beats, jam sessions and power chords are showcased throughout like black dots on a sheet of paper and the connecting lines include everything from flute sounds to jazzy productions, falsetto singing to hard-core raps about the ghetto. Yet in all this, Mos Def remains very true to himself.