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True Magic

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Mos Def
Mos Def: Clay Patick McBride/Retna

On 1999’s masterful Black on Both Sides, Mos Def tempered the intensity of hip-hop with a warmth and humility uncharacteristic of the genre. Since then, his acting career has often taken him away from the mic, rusting his skills. So while True Magic features some taut, funky production on ”Undeniable” and ”There Is a Way,” a large chunk is bogged down by extended outros and lyrical inanities. For better or worse, Mos Def is probably closer to an Oscar than a Grammy nowadays. C+