Mos Def © KLRU photo by Scott Newton

Mos Def

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Mos Def and K'naan Season 35 by Bobby Dixon

While he’s gained popularity as an actor in such films as Monster’s Ball, Be Kind Rewind and Cadillac Records, Mos Def’s “limber flow and gymnastic wordplay” (Paste Magazine) has earned him a spot among hip hop’s most respected lyrical masters.

Mos Def’s early work with Black Star produced singles including “Respiration” and “Definition” that are often cited as being among the best of the genre’s best. His first solo album, 1999’s Black on Both Sides, is a critical classic. On his flawless debut, Mos Def “does it all — addressing serious socio-political issues while remaining positive and affirmative from start to finish” (Pitchfork).

His sophomore release, 2004’s The New Danger mixed soul, blues and rock to create the “hip-hop equivalent of an all-stops pulled, Oscar-ready performance” (Blender). Village Voice wrote, “the defining flow is sonic — a shadowy, guitar-drenched tone poem of the streets. The “impressively diverse” (Rolling Stone) album received a Grammy nomination for the song “Ghetto Rock.” His third release 2006’s True Magic, contains “gems both musical (live sax and jazz flute) and lyrical” (Now Magazine).

Mos Def’s 2009 solo album, The Ecstatic, has been called his “strongest, most deeply felt work in ages” (Entertainment Weekly). The “experimental and progressive” (PopMatters) has Middle Eastern and rock influences creating a multi-textured musical base that creates a “thrillingly accessible demonstration of hip-hop’s limitless creative possibilities” (Observer Music Monthly). Mojo wrote “This is an album that demands careful attention before its meanings and musing reveal themselves, blending apocalyptic visions with occluded celebration

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