Mar 9, 2007

Mos Def.

I know that a lot of white kids got into Mos Def when his first solo album, Black on Both Sides, dropped. But I have to say, I think he's pretty awesome. He's walking this interesting line between mainstream sound, because his stuff isn't unaccessible, and the progressive avant guarde in hip-hop (at least by my estimation) because he's not walking the typical path, is using celebrity, Hollywood, Broadway, and the rest of it to raise consciousness, he's not a hack in any of the things in which he's engaged, and he's not afraid to make some statements. For example, he put out a track soon after the tragedy in New Orleans that slammed the Administration, and he had the conviction to sing the song outside of the (AWARDS NAME) and get arrested doing it.

So I have to give Mos Def some props. On MD's acting. I think he's a great actor, actually, from the soft role in Brown Sugar, to his cameo in Lackawanna Blues (awesome movie that you should check out if you can), to his star turn on 16 Blocks, and I just saw him play a cop with enough nuance in The Woodsman to make you both hate and like him at the same time. Mos Def has acting chops. I haven't seen him as Ford Prefect in Hitchhiker's Guide, but I think my father-in-law even liked his acting in a medical history movie called Something the Lord Made.

I haven't heard his latest album, but I'm finally listening to The New Danger on Napster, and I don't know why I didn't pick this up when it dropped years ago. It's basically an album's worth of proof, taken from his song Rock N Roll on the first album, which said flat out that rock music is black music, and reclaimed some of it from the folks who got famous with the rhythms. Danger is brimming with different aspects of rock, blues, soul with Mos Def switching over to the styles in songs composed with enough conviction to keep you on board. It's not the most cohesive album, by any means, but Black Jack Johnson, which is in itself comprised of members of some of the top black rock/funk/pubk acts (including Living Color, Bad Brains, and Parliament/Funkadelic) can cook.

I have to end here - but I'll pick this up on a post I've been promising about Afro Punk, which definitely gave me more to think about in the race/ethnicity prong of subculture/counterculture analysis. Don't know if I'll be that deep about it, but whatever. It's relevant to Mos Def's ever-expansive performance of what is "black music." Hat tip to Mos. I'm feeling you, man.

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