Mos Def: The New Ricky Gervais

Folks might have noticed the continuing mention of Mos Def here. I realize that anything I write will probably get no response (unless there’s a Hayes or Yuz reading), but I shall write it nonetheless.

I first knew Mos Def from Def Poetry Jam and NYPD Blue. I didn’t even think to get any of his music until I saw him on the second episode of Chappelle’s Show (as an aside, I’ve been a fan of Dave since back in the day, so newcomers step off), where he sang “Close Edge“. After that, I rushed out and bought The New Danger. Upon discussing with Kinyahbrutha, he was a bigger fan of earlier work, and recommended that I picked up Black Star with Talib Kweli. I did and wasn’t disappointed, but recently Sean has come around to my side of the table and quoted frequently from New Danger.

My man is simply the best rapper in the game now, and his skill, both in writing and delivery, puts to shame the whole crew of “dirty Souf” crunk-spewers that dominate the airwaves on ‘urban’ stations. When I have more time, I’ll spell out my take on the evolution of rap (I refuse to use the term hip-hop), and explain who I think are the most skilled lyricists and rappers, but for now, I’ll just say that Mos Def is for real, fo sho.

But my man doesn’t stop there. He is quite an accomplished actor as well. His performance in Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Monster’s Ball, and The Italian Job were outstanding in the literal sense: he stood out. If you’ve seen him in something, you surely remember him. His voice is so distinctive and engaging that you can’t help but take notice, but he can speak like the whitest of white men when he feels like it.
I think the listening tastes of people, besides those who watch MTV, are evolving, and intelligent rhymes with substance rather than pure style will succeed beyond expectations. Don’t get me wrong, my man Mos Def has mad style, but he is producing for the thinking man. It is my prediction that he will receive the respect he deserves in the near future.

~ by kinshay on 2006-01-13.

No Responses Yet to “Mos Def: The New Ricky Gervais”

  1. I am only going to bust on you because of your “I’ve been a fan of Dave since back in the day, so newcomers step off” bit. In other words, you asked for it.

    There is no talking about Mos Def without paying homage to Black on Both Sides. If you don’t know it, you’d best go back to school, son.

    As for his acting chops, he got the most buzz from working on Broadway on Topdog/Underdog. It was that buzz that prompted me to finally pick up BoBS (it had been on my radar for a while), and I’ve been a strong Mos Def supporter ever since. So yeah, I’ve been a fan of Mos since back in the day, so newcomers step off. 😉 Of course that’s not entirely true: I got into Mos maybe 4 years ago, tops.

    The only disappointment I have with New Danger is that it’s half Black Jack Johnson material — too much rap-rock and not enough hip-hop.

  2. And yes, I mean “hip-hop”. To me, hip-hop means old school flava. Mos has it.

  3. I’ve got to agree with Jake on the too much rap-rock thing. And get Black Star with Talib Kweli.

  4. BTW, I know you didn’t mean it this way, but “he can speak like the whitest of white men when he feels like it” sounds a bit like “he certainly is well spoken (for a Negro).”

  5. I first recall being impressed with Mos way back on the Cosby Mysteries. 1994.

  6. Ah, see… I wasn’t willing to admit that I remembered that show. 😉

  7. jake, i think that da kine meant that as a good actor he is able to affect his speech appropriately for the role. kinda’ like that aussie chick in wedding crashers.

  8. Mahalo, Sean, for pointing it out. Yes, I meant like Hugh Laurie dropping his Brit accent for House. Or, for the opposite extreme, Marcia Gay Harden and Larry Fishburne doing such shitty Boston accents in Mystic River.

    As for the rest, I admit that I am a late comer to Mos Def’s music. The “newcomers step off” line meant that I was a fan of Dave Chappelle since back in the day. As far as calling it ‘hip-hop’, to me, that’s an insult. Jake, you say hip-hop is old school, and I agree, but what was rap in the early 1980s? ABAB BCBC Refrain (switch mic to someone else). ABAB BCBC Refrain… Old school means formulaic delivery with 8 not-well-produced tracks backing you up.

    I’ve got his entire discography, including BoBS and a bunch of European singles, but I think I’m still stuck on New Danger because that’s his first album I listened to. Kinda like Led Zeppelin IV was the best Led Zeppelin album to me when I was a kid, because it was the first I owned. It became the standard.

  9. Yeah, yeah. I know what you meant. I was being cheeky.

    As for “hip-hop”, it’s personal semantics. I use “hip-hop” for the stuff I like and “rap” for the rest.

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