First in five years from Brooklyn rapper
Since his 1999 solo debut Black On Both Sides, Brooklyn’s Dante “Mos Def” Smith has proved himself to be hip-hop’s renaissance man: the backpack rapper who’s also a Hollywood star and Broadway actor, political activist and awards show host. Here he resists the obvious big-budget comeback and (aside from the glorious Kanye West-produced “Sunshine”) delivers an experimental and melancholic set. “Black Jack” is a bass-heavy blues jam, “Boogie Man Song” dispenses with traditional hip-hop beats and suggests a new kind of lo-fi folk-soul, while the 11-minute “Modern Marvel” manages to sample Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Goin’ On” and get away with it. The rap metal of “Ghetto Rock” and “Zimzallabim” might just be a step too far, though.