Mos Def: The Ecstatic [review/mp3]

Mos Def's most recent album The Ecstatic is a classic album. Meaning: it will be just as good, and probably better, with more and more time sprinkled on it, and long after Mos is gone. It was released on June 9, 2009. I was moved to write this review in February 2010, to share. Therefore this review is more than mere marketing and promotion. Call it outreach if you must.

The Ecstatic is what you call a born again experience. Mos is older than he was on his first classic album, Black On Both Sides. More importantly though, he's wiser. It shows. In-between this classic and his first one, Mos played around in more experimental Hip-Hop (The New Danger and True Magic albums), acting, and messing around with sexy Brooklyn women. Here he's returned to focus, with countless insights regarding being in tune with one's purpose and one's peace in life -- everlasting inner peace, independent of worldly definitions of success. Mos is heard in vulnerable but powerful form, testifying on the ever important how and why in conversations about finding and manifesting love in a chaotic modernity, and on the infinite beauty of the simple.

Between beautifully crafted pieces like: the wailing, "Life In Marvelous Times"; the minimalistic retro-jazzy, "Priority"; the haunting, "No Hay Nada Mas" versed entirely en espanol; the warm foreign-film nostalgic fuzziness of "The Tournament"; and the joyful pure innocence of "Roses"; there are three songs that summarize the primary trajectory of the album for this listener -- "Auditorium", "History" and Casa Bey. Respectively, they illuminate three of the greatest human acts in my opinion; bearing witness, declaration and testimony -- all of which Mos has done an excellent job manifesting with this project.

On "Auditorium", featuring Slick Rick, Mos bears witness on the current shared somber reality of globalized life for so many of us in these times, demonstrating that he continues to recognize the importance of being in harmony with the instinct and the emotion of the communities he is rooted in. He raps: "The way I feel sometimes it's too hard to sit still/ Things are so passionate, times are so real/ Sometimes I try an chill mellow down blowin' smoke/ Smile on my face but it's really no joke/ You feel it in the streets, the people breathe without hope/ They goin' through the motion, they dimmin' down, they focus/ The focus gettin' clear and the light turn sharp/ And the eyes go teary, the mind grow weary". He continues: "I speak it so clearly, sometimes ya don't hear me/ I push it past the bass, no nations gotta feel me/ I feel it in my bones, black, I'm so wide awake/ That I hardly ever sleep, my flows forever deep/ And it's volumes of scriptures when I breath on a beat."

On "History", featuring Talib Kweli, Mos declares the comeback, and the futility of trying to defeat a feisty radical young man turned clearer seeing man, born again and ready to live faithfully as an "ecstatic". He raps: "And don't call it a come back in particular/ Even if it blend into ephemera or/ Fade into peripheral transition of the minister's original/ We're broadcast clear without diminishing/ Black Star stove top burning soul/ temperatures, administers: Alkalines, aminos and minerals; its sensuous/ Served over Dilla time signatures/ it's miracle material, remember it's right now foreverness."

On "Casa Bey" Mos testifies to ultimate truths and his humble encounters with them. Here Mos has found deep purpose, and understanding, and peace. In that lies a tremendous power; fear (of failure, of lack of recognition) is overcome by a testimony on the knowing of his self. No question, Mos know the blues of Babylon rat race. But here he testifies that he knows what his ultimate purpose is and has accepted it (thus, peace) -- anything more in life is simply God's grace (thus, beauty). He has tapped into a harmony with time and space and found joy in the vastness of it all by choosing to be an ecstatic about the gifts around and inside of him. The cipher has come full circle. He raps: "Magnetic, the flows are athletic/ Dimensions are perfected but the static and kinetic is power/ Past pressure and mass beyond measure/ You can place son where ever he Bed-Stuy forever"... "Stanzas and anthems based on expansion/ A vantage point of the past, present and after/ Rapture, master of ceremony, a master craft/ Of the masterminds who craft masters"... "And it's constant, my mother an artwork/ And God is the author, from Flaco to Archer/ We right on target, a ready steady responsive/ A black light white in the darkness, y'all just/ Are fantastic rawness, good morning, yes"... He continues: "Don't stop the rock/ You don't, don't stop the rock/ You hear the people say, Don't stop"... "You can't stop my go/ I've been born to be where I am/ A bright light from a distant star/ Miracles and answered prayers".

Casa Bey


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