The Deal: Mos Def takes a step away from the big screen and drops an album actually worthy of someone with his skill set as an MC.
The Good: The album is well-produced – it's almost hard to describe, but it just sounds good. Beyond just beats, the album is musically impressive pulling from rock, classical, Latin and even Middle Eastern influences. Outside of the current single, "Casa Bey," which is amazing in its complexity, "Auditorium" with Slick Rick showcases a classic storytelling flow from both MCs. "Quiet Dog" can make you love the timpani drums. "Priority," "History (featuring Talib Kweli)" and "Roses" are also standout tracks. Don't sleep on The Neptunes-produced "Twilite Speedball," either.
The Bad: Blame it on his slur or the music but it's easy to get lost in Mos Def's flow. A few good tracks on the album time in at just under or just over two minutes, which makes you wonder what happened there. "Workers Comp" combines heavy piano with a reggae vibe but is otherwise forgettable. The Ecstatic is also overloaded with quotes and "cut scenes" that make it feel more like a mixtape than an album. For my money, the album could have used some more guest appearances.
The Verdict: Truly inspired music this time out, and he's able to express his view of the world without being overly political. On first listen, the album was a lot hotter, maybe it was just exciting to see Mos drop something more representative of his talent. On second (third and fourth) listen, it's still a solid body of work that'll be in the car and iTunes rotation all summer (maybe longer). Musical revolution? Let's not go that far.