eMusic Review 0
If 1998's Mos Def and Talib Kweli are Black Star was the album that proved Mos Def's bonafides as a conscious-rap firebrand, then his solo debut the following year, Black on Both Sides, was his shot at claiming a wider diaspora than anyone else in hip-hop, mainstream or underground. Goggling over a voluptuous honey ("Ms. Fat Booty") with the same authoritative flow that he dissects day-to-day racism ("Mr. Nigga"); crafting a track, "Rock N Roll," that condemns the whitewashing of pop music backed by a slippery funk that explodes into Bad Brains hardcore; stepping from behind the mic to pick up a bass or throw down on a set of conga drums — Mos clearly wanted to be a do-everything auteur, but he pulled it all off while still remaining grounded in his strengths.
Mos is a Bed-Stuy b-boy to the core on this album — check for the Smif-n-Wessun and Notorious B.I.G. homages in the three-beat suite "Brooklyn" — and his ambitious vision isn't so much a detour from hip-hop as it is a bold expansion of it. The years have sanded off the eccentricity, and many of the beats, especially Diamond D's "Hip-Hop" and DJ Premier's "Mathematics," feel more… read more »