Black On Both Sides (studio album) by Mos Def
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Mos Def bestography
Black On Both Sides is ranked as the best album by Mos Def.
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Black On Both Sides track list
The tracks on this album have an average rating of 81 out of 100 (all tracks have been rated).
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|Rating||Date updated||Member||Album ratings||Avg. album rating|
|43 hours ago||Jakor||3,253||70/100|
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This album is rated in the top 2% of all albums on BestEverAlbums.com. This album has a Bayesian average rating of 80.2/100, a mean average of 78.6/100, and a trimmed mean (excluding outliers) of 80.4/100. The standard deviation for this album is 17.2.
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Mos Def - Black on Both Sides is an album I' ve always had the impression that it has achieved an "almost classic" status, which is a shame, as I don't think there is anything that separates it from the widely accepted classics. I was browsing through various relevant online articles/lists etc. and sadly my suspicion was confirmed for the most part. Maybe it has to do with what babyBlueSedan pointed out, that it's hard to include it in a sub-group inside the hip hop umbrella, maybe it has to do with the course of his career further down the road and his acting shenanigans, or maybe his music is just "too black" to be universally acclaimed. Anyway, not much needs to be said about the defining attributes of this album. The production is top notch, his delivery is practically flawless, but the main function both of these aspects serve is that they allow his lyrics to come through, so that the message can reach the audience loud and clear. Fear Not of Man is an ideal example of this - and of my two favorite moments of the album. It's a case of more speaking than rapping and gives us some of his best -and not only his, to be honest -lyrics. He begins by wondering about the future of hip hop and I really like the way he explains it is closely tied to the future of our civilisation/society and how humans have lost their focus, no matter if they are hip hop artists or regular citizens ("tell em, "You know what's gonna happen with hip-hop? Whatever's happening with us" If we smoked out, hip-hop is gonna be smoked out If we doin' alright, hip-hop is gonna be doin' alright People talk about hip-hop like it's some giant livin' in the hillside Comin' down to visit the townspeople We are hip-hop Me, you, everybody, we are hip-hop So hip-hop is going where we going So the next time you ask yourself where hip-hop is going Ask yourself: where am I going? How am I doing? Till you get a clear idea So if hip-hop is about the people And the hip-hop won't get better until the people get better Then how do people get better? (Hmm) Well, from my understanding people get better When they start to understand that they are valuable And they not valuable because they got a whole lot of money Or 'cause somebody, think they sexy"). Also noteworthy is the use of a sample from Nigerian Afrobeat artist Fela Kuti. Then comes Hip Hop , where he expands on the same theme and further reflects on the duty of the artist to communicate his ideas and raise the political awareness of his audience ("Young man, where you from? Brooklyn number one! Native son, speaking in the native tongue I got my eyes on tomorrow (there it is) While you still tryin to find where it is I'm on the Ave where it lives and dies, violently but silently Shine so vibrantly that eyes squint to catch a glimpse Embrace the bass with my dark ink fingertips"). Love changes the scenery a little bit with a jazzy/bluesy tune and -as expected- stresses the important of love -not only its romantic side, any kind of love. A minor complaint would be that the outro drags unnecessarily. Ms. Fat Booty is another huge track, though I sometimes feel that the tremendously powerful and captivating Aretha Franklin vocal sample overshadows anything else that's going on in this song. By no means does this make it any less enjoyable, I mention it mostly because it's one of the few occasions where the lyrics may remain into the background. Speed Law is a song with a rockier vibe. Lyrics-wise it's not one of my favorites, as it comes dangerously close to becoming one of those typical self-praising songs -but it keeps the balance, as it's more substance than style, while in this kind of songs it's usually the other way around -, plus the outro felt somewhat repetitive. Do It Now features Busta Rhymes, a great guest ("Take the arch rivalry stance up on the podium And give the flavor to niggas but keep it low on sodium Possess shit that got you wondering how we holdin em Things that'll lay you out like a piece of linoleum") and his chemistry with Mos Def is on a very high level. Got is my least favorite song of the album, it gets annoyingly repetitive. Not much to comment on UMI Says, he says it best himself ("Put my heart and soul into this song I hope you feel me From where I am, to wherever you are I mean that sincerely Tomorrow may never come For you and me, life is not promised Tomorrow may never appear You better hold this very moment very close to you Very close to you, so close to you So close to you, don't be afraid, just let it shine"). It's almost impossible not to be moved by his passion. New World Water is a song about water -thank you captain obvious- that can be interpreted in different levels, either directly related to environmental consciousness or to the underlying sociopolitical causes of water pollution and how the transformation of the human nature leads to the deterioration of our natural environment ("Used to have minerals and zinc in it (New World Water) Now they say it got lead and stink in it (New World Water)"). In Rock N Roll I'm not sure if the concept is flawed to begin with , or if it has to do more with the execution. However, the last minute frenzy was great. Know That begins with a Star Wars reference -can't go wrong with one of those. It is one of the funkiest tunes and features Talib Kweli ("Intellectual property I got the title and the deed I pay for rent, with the tears and sweat and what I bleed MCs imitate the way we walk, the way we talk You cats spit lyrical pork with no spiritual thought Plus your flow a little bit off You come across soft Back in the days niggas like that on stage got tossed off Need to get crossed off the guestlist It's like you gotta be disrespected and thrown out the exit To get the message"). Along with the opening track they are my two favorite moments of the album. Considering the competition, that's quite an achievement. Climb might seem weird or even a bit off as a standalone song, but in the context of the album provides a welcome change of pace, relaxing the listener after the highly energetic previous track and makes for a smooth transition to Brooklyn, which also has a chill jazzy atmosphere. Habitat takes another stab at tackling the problem of social injustice and inequality ("Partner, all that's left to want is more While these cats that's less privileged is just more raw Less space cause the projects laced with more flaws Less sleep cause the nights ain't peace, it's more war The can is raw like thirsty, rainy season thunder claps On the block with your old pop pleading number act To the spot with the red top fiends is huddled at To the crib where the little kids spend their summers trapped"). Mr. Nigga is a creative way to show the impact of race based prejudices ("One problem; even with the Os on his check The po-po stop him and show no respect "Is there a problem officer?" Damn straight, it's called race That motivate the jake (woo-woo) to give chase Say they want you successful, but that ain't the case You living large, your skin is dark, they flash a light in your face"). Mathematics is the epitome of classic, full of quotable lines ("The universe expands length The body of my text possess extra strength Power-lift the powerless up out of this towering inferno My ink so hot it burn through the journal I'm blacker than midnight on Broadway and Myrtle Hip-Hop passed all your tall social hurdles Like the nationwide projects-prison-industry complex Working-class poor, better keep your alarm set Streets too loud to ever hear freedom ring Say evacuate your sleep, it's dangerous to dream"). May-December, the closing track, is an instrumental that gives you some room to breathe and try to comprehend what you' ve experienced.
To sum it up, nothing short of a classic. (The review got bigger than I'd have liked, but it's mostly because I've quoted so much stuff. His lyrics are phenomenal, I couldn't resist the temptation.)
Somehow this has been an incredibly overlooked album in hip hop's history and I don't know why, and Mos Def is one of the most underappreciated rappers in the business. Excellent production and instrumentals matched with Mos' lyrics and personality makes 'Black on Both Sides' a must-listen for any new or old hip hop head. My favorite record of 1999.
Best song(s): "Fear Not of Men" "Hip Hop" "Ms. Fat Booty" "Speed Law" "Umi Says" "Know that" "Brooklyn" "Mathematics" (one of the greatest songs ever written)
One of the best overtly political albums ever made, in any genre. Mos Def could go toe to toe with the best MCs of his era but he's a much stronger writer and must more aware of current events than most (all?) of his contemporaries. Has some filler tracks in the second half but even most of those have insane production. Umi Says is one of my all time favorite songs just for the creativity of it sound wise, other highlights are Hip Hop, Mathematics, Do It Now, Know That.
The epitome of a hip-hop classic.
This album holds a big spot in the hip hop history books. Classic
Black on Both Sides is one of those albums that you listen to once and go, "oh." Its imperfections are ignored, and its importance is assumed. You just know it's a classic, and you don't have to try to convince people of that. This album is a landmark of conscious rap. And that's that.
The most introspective fancy dress party. There is no prejudice and no care. The style of their costumes shouldn't judge a character. Everyone has equal right to be here.
A classic, his best release behind Black Star.
Mos Def's flow is fantastic. The lyrics, for the majority of the record, prove to be great. The features are killer, as is the production.
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