Mos Def, Yasiin Bey, Flaco or one half of Black Star. However you know him one thing is for sure, you know the guy and what he's done for rap music since his birth on to the scene over 20 years ago. Recently, Bey has decided to announce his 'retirement' from music. A sad announcement from one of hip/hop's most unique figures. With this news, it felt only fitting to want to talk about one of favourite rap albums of all time, and an album that sits underrated in the pantheon of conscious rap.
Released in 2009, The Ecstatic marked a return to form for Mos Def. His debut, Black on Both Sides was a statement piece, the perfect melding of classic, old school boom bap hip/hop, and the new school poetics. Further releases never caught the same appeal, The New Danger too ambitious, True Magic too lazy and made to fulfil requirements. Acting, Philanthropy and Fashion took precedent, and it looked like Def would never rekindle the ability shown pre millennium. Cue the release of the Ecstatic.
The run from track number 1, Supermagic, to Twilight Speedball, and Auditorium is a frantic beat switcher. From the funk/rock world music production of OH NO on Supermagic, Def rhyming razor sharp barbs over the fast paced accompaniment , to the Neptunes produced second track, it's surrealist lyrical content reflected in an odd trumpet lead beat. The daddy of the 3 tracks is the Slick Rick featuring Auditorium, another world music feel provided by beats supremo Madlib, underlying a story of politics in the middle east. Slick Rick, a man not known for his guest verses kicks an unbelievable sixteen about being a solider in the middle of Iraq.
From here on it's a soulful record, with strong ties to Def's religion and beliefs. Nearly ten years on the bounce it's release, and no other record comes close to Def's ability on the mic, and his relevance in the subject matter.
With his impending retirement, will we ever see another MC like him? Will he ever comeback to follow up on this album? I guess we can only hope so.