Julian Cope presents Head Heritage

Mos Def
Black On Both Sides

Released 1999 on Rawkus
Reviewed by Le Samourai, 07/08/2000ce

If the heads out there are looking for more outspoken, articulate, slightly outlandish African Americans to listen to (aside from James Brown, Sly Stone and George Clinton) and you’ve already gotten all the Public Enemy and Boogie Down Production LP’s (or CD’s) you
SERIOUSLY need to pick this one up. M.C. Mos Def completely exposes what’s on his mind and heart to the world with no apologies on this disc. If you think The Drude had a hard time expressing himself and his ideas to the listening audience at
large people in his music Black On Both Sides does not have the
same problem. And you might even find it shocking.

Also, if you never thought that Hip Hop sampling is an art form and
that Hip Hop artists have nothing new to say outside of their supposed sexual and lyrical prowess you REALLY need to pick this up. This is practically a Hip Hop version of Visine ‘cause it sure is an eye opener. Def not only makes crystal clear how fucked up the business of Hip Hop is (“Hip Hop”) but people’s misconceptions of African Americans too (“Mr. Nigga.”) And best of all, he takes apart a favorite subject that’s near and dear to all of us (“Rock N’ Roll”) so well you might even wonder how many death threats he gets a week.

Musically it’s superb. It even ends with a contemplative, lush, Jazz Funk instrumental (“May-December.”) Black On Both Sides is a
whole lot of fun. It’s also controversial (in an honest,
completely non-hokey-media-whorish way.) Hey, it’s what music
should be about. And it’s only Mos Def’s first album. BTW, those looking for more Mos Def are directed to the CD he did with M.C. Talib Kweli called Black Star (a.k.a. Mos Def & Talib Kweli are Black Star.)

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