Mos Def

It seems like every time I look at a list for all-time greatest MC's, I never see Mos Def's name on the list... never! Sure you have 2Pac, Biggie, Wayne, and a few others who are bound to be on most people's list. But where's Mos Def? I know almost everyone sleeps on East Coast MC's these days, and I'm not even going to start about the 3 Big's... but at the same time Mos Def is still relevant. Dude got all sorts of love from Dave Chappelle and is starring in movies left and right nowadays, although I don't exactly agree with all the roles he's played... still I did love the movie "Brown Sugar", based almost entirely upon Common's track I Used To Love H.E.R.
That's beside the point, what do you need nowadays to be considered a legend?

1. Mixtape Prowess- I can't even count the number of people who are on Immortal Technique's dick just because he releases a new mixtape with old material every month. Same with Weezy. Check out Dat Piff to see what I mean. This is where Mos is really struggling, he's rarely ever releasing any new shit. Supposedly he's going to release an album soon, but what's the point if there's no hype or any audience built up for the release.

2. One Legendary Album- All you really need nowadays is one classic album, preferably the debut. Anything after one is gravy. Although sometimes people blur the line between classic and unlistenable like "Tha Carter" or "Electric Circus". I think it's pretty much agreed on that Mos' "Black On Both Sides" is one of the 100 best albums ever made in this hip-hop genre, so he's got the basic requirement down.... I really wasn't feeling "True Magic" or "The New Danger", so I doubt he has two classic albums under his belt... but his first one was quite the achievement.

3. The Right Collabs- This means more in hip-hop than it means in rap... DJ Khaled can stick any two random artists on a song together and generate a hit. But in hip-hop, you really have to have chemistry between the two artists... use Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg as an example... use Nas and AZ as an example. When two like-minded talented artists get together and make incredible music it enhances their case as a legend. Mos has definitely got this category under lock and key... his collab with Talib Kweli was amazing, what hip hop head doesn't have the Black Star album?

4. That Thing- Every legend has that thing. What is that thing? For 2Pac it was his charisma, his ability to relate to the listener. For Biggie it was his unworldly flow and rhyme schemes. For Big L, it was his lyricism, the dude could have put together a classic freestyle album. For Snoop Dogg (yes, he is a legend, I could care less about the shit he puts out today, but in the 90's? Forget about it!) it's that calm flow and Snoop Dizzle swagger. Every legend has their own "thing". At first look it doesn't seem as though Mos Def has a certain attribute that really shines through. But his storytelling is immaculate, where Biggie could describe every detail in detail, Mos is the Jack Kerouac of hip-hop leaving out certain details that further aid the story. Of course, everyone's heard "Ms. Fat Booty", which is a prime example... but you also have "Speed Law", "Know That".

5. Being The Face Of A Generation- Every legend is the face of a generation. Grandmaster Flash and The Furious Five were the face of the origin of conscious hip-hop. Tribe was the face of jazz-rap... even though they weren't the inventors of the topic. 2Pac was the face of thug-rap... the "I don't give a fuck" generation. Eminem was the "crazy, twisted genius"... Kool Keith, MF Doom, even Del Tha Funkee Homosapien fall into this generation. Mos Def is the face of the third generation of conscious hip-hop. First you had Grandmaster Flash, then Tribe... but in the late 90's and early 2000's, Mos was the face of the re-burgeoning New York City conscious hip-hop scene. The scene was never dead by any means, but still artists like Lupe, Kanye, Jay Electronica, and many others were influenced by Mos Def. This was when lyricism was falling out of style... people were starting to favor P Diddy rather than Shyne. Mos Def brought it back to lyricism.

That's why you need to stop being narcoleptic and sleeping on my dude Mos Def, give "Black On Both Sides" another listen... right now!
Posted on 5:59 PM by Guy Fawkes and filed under , | 7 Comments »


Jason@PSB said... @ October 10, 2008 at 7:22 PM

People talk about hip hop likes it's some giant living on the hill side.

Certified Banger said... @ October 11, 2008 at 2:58 AM

haha. I was rocking the ms fat booty vinyl last night!

Thanks for reaching out.

Platinum said... @ October 11, 2008 at 6:17 AM

Highly Slept on artist.

12kyle said... @ October 11, 2008 at 11:04 AM

*comin' thru for the first time*

Great blog! I will be back

I find it interesting that there is a huge segment of people who know Mos Def the actor more than Mos Def the MC. Any word on some new material from him?

John Q said... @ October 11, 2008 at 11:07 AM

Good Lokin on the Mos Drop. This is a Mulit-talented cat who seems to not get the due he probably deserves. But once you get bit by the acting bug, you ... THERE IS NO CURE. Anyway, nice to see someone drop a post on the MIGHTY MOS DEF.

Guy Fawkes said... @ October 11, 2008 at 11:11 AM

Last I heard he is going to drop "The Ecstatic" sometime in 09. But I don't think anything is definite yet.

Praverb said... @ October 11, 2008 at 7:08 PM

haha at get bit by the acting bug...I need to get bit by it...hehe