Mos Def
The Ecstatic


4.0
excellent

Review

by Tyler Munro EMERITUS
June 10th, 2009 | 111 replies | 27,946 views


Release Date: 2009 | Tracklist

Review Summary: The Ecstatic puts Mos Def on an alternative track back towards hip-hop relevance.

After The New Danger came out I was all but convinced that Mos Def had been lost permanently to rapper-slash territory. His first album post-The Italian Job, The New Danger wasn't terrible, but it left a lot to be desired. What was worrisome is that it became almost immediately clear that 'Def had other things going for him. True Magic, an album most people would pay to forget, solidified this. Mos Def could now comfortably be put in the same conversation as Common and Will Smith. I figured he'd continue rapping, I just never imagined myself caring about it again. Well, The Ecstatic is here and it's made me care. While it won't have me punning on it's title, I'm at least happy to have him back. Far from a classic but far from True Magic, The Ecstatic is worth more than a passing glance. And here's why.

The Ecstatic does a great job at easing the listener into Mos Def's new left-of-centre aesthetic. Sandwiched between Oh No's Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious-like “Supermagic” and Madlib's Madvillain-esque “Auditiorium”, the Chad Hugo produced “Twilite Speedball” may be a little too close to Pharoahe Monch's “Simon Says” for comfort, but its almost total lack of thump and emphasis on the one-two-trumpet-guitar beat perfectly complete the album's opening three song punch, bookended by Madlib and his brother's distinguished production work. If I had any doubts about The Ecstatic, “Auditorium” put them to rest. Madlib's production work manages to make something out of nothing (the samples might as well be muzak) and the Slick Rick appearance dots the is and crosses the ts on what quickly becomes one the years strongest tracks. But the album doesn't tail off after arguably it's best track, because Mos Def has done an excellent job at recruiting a diverse line-up of producers and performers who manage to all put their fingerprints on the music without making the album sound like a third-rate compilation.

From “Wahid”'s synthesized take on the club banger to the reggae-tinged, “Umi Says” infused “Workers Comp.”, Mos Def inserts bits of his own flair into the masterworks of his list of varied super producers. On an album full of head-scratchers, it's only on the inexplicably lazy (and explicitly Spanish) “No Hay Nada Mas” that'll have you breaking skin. And that's why The Ecstatic is great. Not only is it the complete opposite of what I expected from Mos Def, The Ecstatic is light-years away from his classic sound and several aisle's left of centre. It'd be lunacy to call it a cash-in. It's only on the Dilla produced, Black Star re-uniting “History” that it really clicks that this is the same guy who sang “1, 2, 3...it's Mos Def and Talib Kweli”. Of course the most reminiscent aspect of “History” has to be the hearty reminder that, as talented as he is, Talib Kweli is always better when he's only making an appearance.

The Ecstatic is solid from front to back, but it's not always entirely cohesive. The production is uniquely executed, with the beats often focusing more on sample placement than drums and bass, but it's this lack of a low-end that sometimes makes your head nod in backwards directions. Mos Def's rhymes, as a result, sometimes get lost in the shuffle. As such. The Ecstatic is the quintessential grower, and for some that won't be easy to take. But rest assured it will grow on you and after a couple of spins you'll have the soulful, Latin funk of “Casa Bey” and the snappy rhymes of tracks like “Quiet Dog Bite Hard” stuck in your head. This time around, the ends definitely justify the means.



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user ratings (436)
Chart.
3.8
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
Tyler
Emeritus
June 10th 2009



7928 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Quick write up. This album really grew on me. At first I thought it was terrible. It can still be a little disjointed but it all comes together.

gaslightanthem
June 10th 2009



5209 Comments


wasnt expecting this to be good will listen

Tyler
Emeritus
June 10th 2009



7928 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I wasn't either and then i listened to it and distinctly remember writing "this isn't good what a surprise" but then out of nowhere it became good. It might be a 3.5, I just decided to give it the benefit of a doubt because I couldnt' decide.

gaslightanthem
June 10th 2009



5209 Comments


fair enough

fantastic review as always

combustion07
June 10th 2009



5334 Comments


All I have is Black on Both Sides and I love that, I'll have to check into this.

Tyler
Emeritus
June 10th 2009



7928 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This is nothing like Black on Both Sides. Don't let that stop you, just be aware.

JAV
June 10th 2009



1921 Comments


Thank god it doesn't suck.

cvlts
June 10th 2009



8954 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Eff you Coke, i was gonna review this! haha, aw well good stuff... i dont think its better than black on both sides but still is great

Tyler
Emeritus
June 10th 2009



7928 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

It's definitely not better than Black on Both Sides or Black Star. That being said, it's probably not as far off as nostalgia would have us believe.

cvlts
June 10th 2009



8954 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

the review kinda sounds like it should be a 3.5?

Tyler
Emeritus
June 10th 2009



7928 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I'm basically at a 3.75, I just decided to give it the benefit of a doubt. I think I will lower it, though, and keep 4 as my personal rating.

Undead
June 10th 2009



144 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

This is a great album. Mos Def has always been one of the few rappers I've ever enjoyed listening to.

cvlts
June 10th 2009



8954 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Quiet Dog (Bite Hard) is ace

kingsoby1
Emeritus
June 10th 2009



4940 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

record's at least a 4 for me... with beats from the past couple years of oh no and madlib beat discs, it's hard to stop listening.

all the b*tches whining online about it lacking focus are dumb... shit's definitely excellent

cvlts
June 10th 2009



8954 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

black on both sides was a solid 4 for me... this shoots for black on both sides but misses slightly... 3.5

Tyler
Emeritus
June 10th 2009



7928 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I dont know soby, I can definitely understand why some would say it has a lack of focus. But I think that just has to do with the way the beats are pronounced, they're not very traditional.

kingsoby1
Emeritus
June 10th 2009



4940 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I didn't even like bobs a ridiculous amount. I mean it was tight but not this genre defining record people beat off to. I probably enjoy this and that equally or near-so

MassiveAttack
June 10th 2009



2688 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Good to hear. One of the guys I work with said this was great, seems he was right.

cvlts
June 10th 2009



8954 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Hey! What I beat off too is none of your biznatch!! Lol

joshuatree
Emeritus
June 10th 2009



3743 Comments


definitely going to get this, oh no and madlib making some beats can only sweeten the deal



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