Given that Monday is Martin Luther King Day, something about hearing the line, “I want black people to be free, to be free, to be free,” echo seems apropos.
“Black on Both Sides,” Mos Def’s 1999 debut issue, touches on social and racial injustices and the state of African-Americans in the United States. “Mathematics” talks about the quantification of many facets of American life, including that unemployment among blacks is triple that of whites. “Numbers is hardly real and they never have feelings / But if you push too hard, even numbers got limits,” Mos raps.
“Black” is more than 70 minutes long, but blows by quickly. The majority of the record is jazzy and laid back, except for the jarring final minute of “Rock N Roll,” which was intended as parody of the nu-metal trend prevalent in the late ’90s. “Do it Now,” too, which features Busta Rhymes, is bumping, but it’s an exception.
On his first try, Mos weaved a mellow, reflective, highly listenable work on the world in which he lives.
Our Music Year is Daily Republic popular culture writer Nick DeCicco’s yearlong online review in 2012 of albums he had previously not listened to. The reviews will appear in print on their corresponding days during 2013. Reach him at 427-6966 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ndeciccodr.