Monday, October 18, 2004


if you could judge albums by their covers...

Fam - can we talk about this new Mos Def album? My thoughts are still jumbled but some comments off the top.

1) If Kweli's album was too commercial, The New Danger seems to suffer from the inverse problem: not enough street heat. I think "Close Edge" is rather hot but if that's the best shot in a 18 round clip, it's time to put either Primo or Just Blaze on speed dial.

2) Speaking of producers, Kanye's track for "Sunshine" would be one of his blandest this whole year if not for the even more boring work he did for Jin ("I Gotta Love"). How does Common get "Food" and Mos end up with his sonic milquetoast? Who made that call?

3) "The Rape Over" = a truly bad idea. Jacking the instrumental for Jay-Z's "The Takeover" and rhyming over it would have been some hot shit on a mixtape from a year ago, but in 2004, not only is the track a little tired but the poor fidelity doesn't help either, nor does this line that left many heads scratching their heads: "quasi-homosexuals are running this rap shit." Who he is talking about? Camrom? Russell Simmons? And what's up with the queer-baiting? What would Umi say?

4) Strangely, I don't think this is a bad album though I agree that it is self-indulgent. And boring in long stretches. But I still have to rank it above Q-Tip's misfiring on Kamal the Abstract which was self-indulgent, boring, but more to the point: a terrible album musically - practically unlistenable at times. The New Danger isn't grating, just uninteresting at many points. Good editing and better sequencing could have improved this in droves. And more heat! I hate to keep harping on this but his cameo on the Bush Babees' "Love Song" was more invigorating than at least half this album. I'm just saying.

5) This is a larger philosophical question but in convos I've had with friends, we're all asking the same question: what does it mean to be a "conscious" rapper now that Jadakiss is dropping, "Why?", Jay-Z is guesting on Talib Kweli and Dead Prez songs and Puffy and Trick Daddy are helping register people to vote? Truly, the game done changed. Next thing, it's going to be the Clipse rapping about single payer healthcare and Nelly rhyming about... Ok, forget Nelly. You get the idea.

Can we also talk about how great De La Soul's The Grind Date is? I was ready to see them retire after two lackluster Art Official Intelligence albums but suddenly, they've put out their best album since 1996. The production is sharp, the lyrics feel a tad dated at times but for the most part, still have spark. Maybe this is just my nostalgia rearing its head but frankly, for 15+ year vets, De La's turned in a far better product than any other peer I can think of.