When one record label simultaneously releases albums by two heralded MCs from two different eras in hip hop, "buzz" does not come close to describing the anticipation of fans.
Mos Defs name and face were stapled on hip-hops collective consciousness when he and partner Talib Kweli dropped Black Star last year. While Kweli seemed to have the more profound thought process of the two, it was Mos Def who offered styles and rhythms that honored the most creative aspects of the culture. But whether he could hold his own on a solo disc was questionable.
Well, you know how certain questions get answered well enough to make the questioner shut the hell up forever? Black on Both Sides offers the most consciousness, concern, class, style and versatility since The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. True, thats a tall accolade. But when was the last time you got down to a protest song about Americas contamination and marketing of its water supply? When was the last time someone rapped, sang, dueted and educated you, all on one disc? With the exception of Mos eons-long tribute to his hometown of Brooklyn, youll never fast-forward this CD. "Do It Now," "Got," "Mathematics" and "New World Water" are highlights.
On the other side of Rawkus Records, Mos labelmate Pharoahe Monch has spent almost 10 years struggling for the recognition that eluded his group Organized Konfusion. Now with a new promo team and new energy he puts his best foot forward with a solo debut that is similar to Mos Defs in skill level only. Monch is such a complex and brutally honest lyricist that it may take two listens to determine whether he is attempting to be constructive or destructive. But the former adjective fits.
Monchs beef is with those other destructive forces which have, as he says, proceeded to "Rape" hip hop of its creative nature ("You aint fuckin it right!"). His club banger, "Simon Says," sets the tone for the album early, and he pulls in the talents of Common, Kweli, Canibus and others to grind in his manipulation of beats and rhymes.
Look at it this way. Mos Defs project has potential to influence the way future artists make songs. Monchs will live in your CD player for months to come. Either way, you cant go wrong.
We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Detroit Metro Times. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Detroit Metro Times, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.
Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Support Local Journalism.
Join the Detroit Metro Times Press Club
Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.
Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.
Join the Metro Times Press Club for as little as $5 a month.