Mos Def is a renaissance man. Why do I state that? Well, of course, it's because I read those words in Esquire. I was extremely shocked to find an article on the icon all backpackers drooled over from Black Star's rise through his first solo release. Mos made it to Esquire?
In the five years that passed between "Black On Both Sides" and "The New Danger," Black Dante has starred and performed in the background within some of Hollywood's biggest films. He even managed to score a couple of lead roles, which are set to take us "by storm" this year. But as is the case with anyone, spreading yourself too thin means that certain aspects must be compromised. It seems that this time around, it was his music.
"The New Danger" is an extremely adventurous eclectic mix of songs. Mos attempts rock, blues, soul and rap. Though he does excel in certain areas, the diversification of content leaves the album lacking.
His "Sex, Love & Money"/"Ghetto Rock" single (which led us into this release) left dedicated fans wondering what he'd been smoking. Their appeal grew with repeat listens, but didn't contain the power that his previous material wielded.
"Close Edge" and "Grown Man Business" are amongst the highlights of "The New Danger." The former was featured on the Chapelle show, with Mos prodding forward over an awkward synth and hand drum beat. The latter, "Grown Man Business" features enough passion to leave the listener enthralled, but continues on for several minutes too long leaving you wondering when enough is enough. "The Panties" is another example of Mos at his soulful best, his performance heartfelt.
The problem is Mos' supposed experimentation. "Black Jack" and "Freaky Black" appear as if Mos is trying to expand as an artist, however, it seems a little too soon. He doesn't feel as suited to the heavy electric guitar as he does soulful strings. "Life Is Real" is surprising. It seems as if Mos wrote this track as he recorded it. The lyrics are simple at best, the performance too. Even "Sunshine," a collaboration with Kanye West has Mos failing to excel over a beat which ordinarily we'd have expected he would.
"The New Danger" has been slammed excessively due to "Black On Both Sides." With a debut as strong as Mos formerly assembled, falling short was inevitable. However, "The New Danger" isn't to be overlooked.