Mos Def The New Danger

[Geffen; 2004]

Styles: conscious/political hip hop
Others: Talib Kweli, Common, Blackstar, Gang Starr

For the next year or so, it appears as if my fate (at least in regards to pop culture) will be tied to Mos Def. Slated as major characters in film adaptations of two of my favorite books of all time (John Kennedy O'Toole's Confederacy of Dunces, which mercifully may have been shelved, and Douglas Adams' Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy), I have been preparing myself for the exposure by trying to recall his Blackstar days, long before Def fell into the rapper-slash-actor limbo that swallows so many of hip-hop's finest. Sadly, The New Danger isn't helping me at all.

Perhaps Mos should be duly credited for being perhaps the first emcee to begin an album with not one, but two boring intro tracks. Maybe someday far into the future, when rappers release albums comprised entirely of "Guess who's back" or "The Champ is here" sentiments, we will look back on Mos as a sonic pioneer. In the meantime, it's just pretentious. Further, even when he gets to rapping, Mos Def seems to be short on ideas. The two requisite Kanye produced tracks feature boring rhymes over thoughtless samples of The Doors and "Age of Aquarius." Mos refers to himself throughout the album as "Black Jack Johnson," which begs the question; "Isn't the white Jack Johnson annoying enough for people of all races and creeds?" And don't get me started on Mos Def's attempts to be D'Angelo or Cody Chesnutt, or his new fascination with trying to sound like RATM. It seems that in becoming an actor, he's forgotten the conscience-heavy raps that made Blackstar so endearing.

In re-reading the previous paragraph, I come off sounding like this album is absolute crap. It's really not. It features the same schizophrenic, influenced-by-everything quality of Dre's The Love Below, but where people were able to overlook the many boring-to-terrible tracks while skipping to "Hey Ya" or "Roses," The New Danger fails to feature as strong a centerpiece; although tracks like "Grown Man Business" and "Ghetto Rock" are enjoyable, they aren't enough to support the deadweight here.

1. The Boogie Man Song
2. Freaky Black Greetings
3. Ghetto Rock
4. Zimzallabim
5. The Rape Over
6. Blue Black Jack
7. Bedstuy Parade & Funeral March
8. Sex, Love & Money
9. Sunshine
10. Close Edge
11. The Panties
12. War
13. Grown Man Business (Fresh Vintage Bottles)
14. Modern Marvel
15. Life Is Real
16. The Easy Spell
17. The Beggar
18. Champion Requiem