If you peruse the pages of Zebra is Food, you’ll come across some remarks disparaging the Mighty Mos Def for one reason or another. To many, he’s come to represent some kind of eccentric, tofu-eating, yoga class-taking nut job— more middle-aged soccer mom than a serious rapper. But I think we can all agree that Black on Both Sides was on some hotness. What? It came out a decade ago? Shut up. If that shit came out today, it would be no less of a masterpiece.
I bought The New Danger with my hard-earned cash. I was disappointed as much as anybody else. But in my opinion, Hip-Hop heads have been mistaking the experimentation of “Ghetto Rock” and “Boogie Man Music” from his last couple albums as a sign of Black Dante falling off. Now, to oversimplify things, when a rapper is considered to have “fallen off,” this means 1) his/her rhymes are wack, 2) their subject matter sucks, and 3) perhaps, most importantly, they can’t choose dope beats anymore. If even one of these conditions is not met, it’s actually arguable whether or not said rapper’s abilities have taken a dip. Take Prodigy of Mobb Deep, for example. He’s lost some gas behind his flow, rhymes are anemic, and all he seems to rap about (at least, before he went to jail) is cooking crack: Conditions 1 and 2. But, by enlisting Alchemist to produce Return of the Mac Vol. 1 and 2, P smashed Condition 3 over the right field wall and raised doubts whether he’d really fallen off.
My point is this: If you were looking closely enough, Mos has shown intermittent flashes of ill lyricism that would suggest he hasn’t lost his touch in the last 10 years. In fact, I recently got my grubby hands on a copy of The Ecstatic, which is due to be released on June 9th, and, while the jury is still out, after a quick listen, it seems the lyrics are there. And with some nice contributions from Madlib, Mr. Flash, Oh No, and J Dilla, Mos could definitely be back. NY stand up.