♫♪  Yasiin Bey & Preservation - The REcstatic

Mos Def’s last album, 2009’s The Ecstatic, is easily his most progressive and polarizing release to date. Its worldly beatscape — populated by African drums, Arabic phrases, jazz/funk samples, and one song sung/rapped entirely in Spanish — alienated some of the only remaining remnants of his core fan base who’d stuck with him since the Black on Both Sides days, despite his repeated ventures away from the Rawkus-era backpacker boom-bap that made him famous. But it also propelled the MC/thespian back to critical-darling status, re-establishing him as one of the hippest cats in what had decidedly become the hippest borough on the planet. Unfortunately, though it peaked at #9 on the Billboard 200, it did so selling only 39,000 copies (not terrible, but also not great considering his debut went Gold) and has since faded from hip-hop’s notoriously faulty short-term memory. Even the most praiseful critics and loyal fans are too forgetful or preoccupied to readily acknowledge its significance, or so it would seem. No wonder Mos went and changed his name to Yasiin Bey. (That’s both a bad joke and a convenient transition to the next paragraph.)

With this remix project, one year in the making, Bey’s tour DJ and in-house producer Preservation revisits and reimagines the album in such a way that just might reawaken fans to its frenetic greatness. In describing his intent and process, Pres writes, “Because it was a sample-based album, I wanted to keep the remixes sample-based and for them to have the same pitch, key and tone as the originals. The original beats were non-traditional and the amount of singing made it very difficult to remix with this intention of the same energy. It’s the result of countless hours of digging through records to sample, constructing the beat, wrapping it around the vocal, adjusting the tempo, and so on.” The deep crate digging to which he refers is apparent throughout, and while the ecstatic energy of the original album is preserved, it’s also lent a slightly rougher texture, which might serve to bring back into the fold some former fans who unscrupulously disregarded the 2009 release. Even if it doesn’t, though, the project stands strong as a respectful contribution to the canon of remix-based art, something that can be said for very few modern rap “remixes.”

Download The REcstatic here, and watch out for Preservation’s debut full-length production album, Old Numbers, due July 9 on Mon Dieu Music.

• Mos Def: http://twitter.com/MosDefOfficial

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CHOCOLATE GRINDER is our audio/visual section, with an emphasis on the lesser heard and lesser known. We aim to dig deep, but we’ll post any song or video we find interesting, big or small.

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