MOS DEF has proven he is truly the renaissance artist of the 21st century by using his multiple talents to achieve success not only in music but also crossing over into Film (The Italian Job, Brown Sugar), Television (Def Poetry Jam, Something the Lord Made), and even reaching critical acclaim on Broadway (Top Dog Underdog). Mos Def returns with his very highly anticipated sophomore album The New Danger, an eclectic album that contains elements of hip hop, funk, rock, alternative, R&B and includes production by Kanye West and Warryn Campbell.
More than a mere rap album, Mos Def's long-awaited The New Danger
combines hip-hop, blues, soul, and rock in an 18-track package that seeks to transcend convention. In that sense, it shares a similar spirit with Andre 3000's The Love Below
or Common's Electric Circus
, with mixed results. Mos's reputation has been built on the strength of his lyrical charisma, and songs like "Close Edge," "Grown Man Business," and "Sunshine" show that his skills haven't faded just because he's Emmy-nominated. He's already proven that he can cut more than just street heat--best evinced on the soulful, poetic "Umi Says," a surprise hit from his previous release, 1999's Black on Both Sides
. Yet, the rock- and blues-inspired songs here, while by no means poor, are acquired tastes, given their tendency to noodle--they simply can't compare with Mos's cutting verbal displays. The album's length and sometimes clunky sequencing can make for challenging listening, especially when so many of his more experimental cuts come early on. New fans might find the album's eclecticism intriguing, although older fans will likely be a bit perplexed. --Oliver Wang