Mos Def’s new record, The Ecstatic, is the best mainstream hip-hop record since Kanye’s Graduation. But where Kanye’s record soared on an upbeat, up-to-minute mix of disco, dance, and pop influences, Mos Def draws from classic rap beats and various strains of world music. It’s a backpacker’s masterpiece.
“Casa Bey” isn’t the album’s best track — I’d go with the loopy “Quiet Dog Bite Hard” — but it’s still pretty solid. And Mos Def, as always, makes an intriguing hip-hop character.
Since we’re on the topic, I’m convinced that Mos Def has a huge amount of mostly overlooked potential as an actor. He’s done some great work so far — his wavering off-kilter timing was the best thing about The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and his mumbling, slouching detective shtick in The Woodsman was chilling and eerie — but no one’s quite figured out how to use him in a way that really sticks. Given the right director, someone who really understands actors (P.T. Anderson, maybe? Soderbergh?), I’m nearly certain he could turn in a really iconic performance.