Entertainment Weekly


Stay Connected


Advertise With Us

Learn More

Skip to content


EW reviews new albums by Mos Def and friends

Posted on

EW reviews new albums by Mos Def and friends

Even the slightest insinuation that Mos Def could lose his place in the hip-hop firmament would have been dismissed as mere hater-ism just a few years ago. But not anymore. On his sophomore solo effort, The New Danger, the mighty Mos finally falters with a mishmash of mightily uneven demo-quality tracks. It’s hard to believe that this is what die-hard fans (this writer included) who hail 1999’s Black on Both Sides as a colorful, conscious-rap masterpiece waited five years for.

Sadder still because you’d be hard-pressed to find a more charismatic MC than Mos Def. He’s at his best here rhyming over funky-fresh throwbacks like ”Close Edge,” but he overreaches when he postures as an authentic blues singer (” Bedstuy Parade”), Prince-ly crooner (”Beggar”), and ghetto-rock god (”Freaky Black”). It’s easy to respect his restless artistic spirit, but it doesn’t make swallowing his undercooked ambition any easier.

What is easier to swallow are two Mos-related family side projects, Medina Green and UTD. Medina Green, a loose crew ruled primarily by Mos’ brother DCQ, built their names in mixtape circles with their impressive boho street tracks. On U-Know the Flex — a compilation of some of those songs, plus some new cuts — Mos Def endows ”Excellence” with fire-spitting fury, while DCQ’s high-pitched punch highlights the orchestral tension of ”Pump da Pump.” Mos’ brother also appears on UTD’s never-released 1994 LP, Manifest Destiny, together with Mos and their thunderbolt-slinging sis Ces. Crunching, jazzy beats and agile flows position the group somewhere between Digable Planets and the Fugees. Given Mos’ new material, these two consistently fly albums are well-timed consolation prizes.

Danger: C+
Flex: B+
Destiny: B+