MOS DEF : : THE NEW DANGER (Geffen Records)

Mos, what happened? This one ain't bad, but come on; we've been waiting with baited breath for five years for the follow up to Black On Both Sides. We know all about Black Jack Johnson, yes your metal band rawks, but what the fuck, where's the flow, where's the subtle nuance and musical moments of clarity? In repeated listening I find myself as torn as this album is lacking in direction. "Zimzallabim" couldn't be more passé, and what's up with the Jay-Z rip-off "The Rape Over?" The lingering blues riff on "Blue Black Jack" is far too simple and unfortunately carries over to "Bedstuy Parade & Funeral March" which could have been a mellowed-out, smoke-filled track, but instead is grounded by the bright guitar. "Sex, Love & Money" is what we want! Calling out to Brooklyn and doin' it proud, this has the flow, this has the beats, the soaring flute and the horn punctuation. "Sunshine" follows suit with a soul vibe sample and enough black power introspection to make us believe, but instead of keeping pace and pushing for more the album falls back on screaming and distortion.

Midway through Mos drops "The Panties" and all of a sudden I remember what had the masses claiming Mos Def as hip-hop's golden angel. "The Panties" finds Mos as the sultry, deep-grooved sexy-as-all-hell savior we dreamed of, but quickly things deteriorate into schizophrenia. "War" starts off bumpin' with some deep-seeded insight but quickly falls back to heavy metal drums and Mos repeating "Fuck you pay me, Fuck you pay me, Fuck you pay me..." Regardless of his point, I'm positive Mos could have come up with something more thought provoking than "Fuck you pay me." But alas, after bashing the brow Mos slips back into the deep-pocket groove with "Modern Marvel" featuring Marvin Gaye samples and heavy questions for Marvin (and the black community as a whole). "Modern Marvel" gives us hope for the Mos of "Umi Says" but it's too little too late, as the following "Life Is Real" just comes off as blasé at best.

In considering Mos Def's awesome influence on music I'm hesitant to call him out, but in fact, his history forces me to. If we didn't see the highest of high on his debut we wouldn't expect greatness at every turn. Such is the way the world works--expectation are high, and we should never accept the future based on the past. Now hear me clear: this is not to say The New Danger is a flop, far from it, there is wonder tucked inside, and it's worth your 15 bucks, but it is not the dominant, master work we assume from Mos Def. Bottom line is, how can you give us "Sex, Love & Money," "The Panties," and "Modern Marvel," and expect us to believe the rest? Was the cover-to-cover Black On Both Sides a fluke? Aren't you a Blackstarr too? Did Hollywood cloud your vision? Like I said, The New Danger is decent, even good, and it would be great for most, but not for Mos Def.

The Kayceman
JamBase | San Francisco
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[Published on: 10/25/04]

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