Mos Def seems to be in a constant state of evolution. Compare any of his projects and you'll know what I'm talking about. With "True magic" Mos again reinvents himself... yet-again. Gone are the guitar riffs of "New Danger," the monstrous strings of "Black On Both Sides," and the boom bap drums of the Blackstar album. They are not necessarily replaced, they are just spread out into the murky stew that is "True Magic."
Mos starts out with the famous phrase "Bismillah ir Rahman ir Raheem" ("In the Name of God, the Most Merciful, the Most Compassionate"). But instead of the chatter after the phrase while the beat builds, he jumps right into the rap (almost without letting himself finish). He sounds bored on his intro, which really makes you worry about the rest of the album.
The major problem is that the entire album sounds patched together, as if it is a collection of different tracks from Mos; which is actually true for some of the album. The 6th track on the album "A Ha" was bootlegged and released by Howie records around April of 2005. The vinyl included two versions of the song featuring Jae Millz & Tray Brags with a blackstar b-side. Kweli, who I spoke to about the leak about a year ago hinted that the release was obtained illegitimately, and seemed pretty upset about it.
On the album version gone are the guests, the vocals are rerecorded (with sound effects!) and the gritty feel of the unmastered track (which really added to it's appeal) is gone. The same can be said by the next track "Dollar Day" which was put out by mos shortly after the Katrina Disaster. Again the vocals were re-done and a rather long-winded story about a Katrina survivor. They really took out the best feature of these tracks, the combination of a rough mix and raw emotion which made these songs ring so true.
"U R The One" is a real "Ms. Fat Booty" type of love song, that has a real good feel. "There is a way" is another good song, though it seems a little too happy (if that's possible), and doesn't really have any lyrics, it serves good interlude though.
The album is really pretty mediocre, I expected more. And while this is nothing like what Mos has delivered in the past, this disc deserves a listen.