Posted tagged ‘mos def’

Mos Def Is The Worst Rapper of the Decade

December 8, 2008

I’ve been a fan of Mos Def since before I knew he rapped. I knew him as the quirky, young guy on Cosby Mysteries, which aired for about a heartbeat in the mid-nineties on NBC. I read, then, that he was into slam poetry and spoken word– remember when people used to say “spoken word” as if it were an actual thing? Well, following that blink of an eye, I completely forgot about Mos Def until he turned up on De La Soul’s album Stakes Is High. His voice was youthful, smart, fun… I couldn’t wait to hear more from him.

And then I did. Mos Def released Black on Both Sides toward the end of 1999. I’m sure there must have been a good song on the album, but I have no idea what it was. The yawn starts at track one and extends to track seventeen. It’s a yawn that you resent more than the second Bush term because you like Mos Def so much that you want to like his music.

Case in point: Mos Def followed his album with roles in several movies. He appeared in Carmen: A Hip Hopera, Bamboozled, Monster’s Ball, Brown Sugar and The Italian Job. Not all of these are good movies, but he’s the best part of most of them. So he spends five years building up all this credit, and then he releases The New Danger in 2004.

I’ll be honest, I haven’t given The New Danger a complete listen, but that’s because I started hearing songs from the album and was instantly reminded that Mos Def bores me like daytime programming on TLC. It featured an eclectic collection of music styles. You know what that means? That means that Mos Def was embracing diversity as a way of boring different musical audiences. Actually, that means that Mos Def was probably high and listening to, say, a blues song, thinking “Hey, I wear a hipster brim, I bet I could pull off the blues.”

I just want to shake him and yell, “Whhhhhhyyyyyyyyy? What’s wrong with you? Don’t you know we want to like you??” Apparently, it was around this time that he launched his plan for expanding his audience by having five children with four women. That’s nine people who won’t care that he’s mind-numbingly dull.

In 2006, Mos Def released an album, True Magic, with no cover art. None. Just a clear case. It also had zero promotion, which was apparently as Mos Def wished. To me, that sums up Mos Def– just sitting there, daring you not to be interested, when really there’s little to be interested in.

So here’s the argument for Mos Def as the worst rapper of the decade. It isn’t that he can’t rap. It isn’t that he isn’t smart. It’s that none of the charsima that Mos Def exudes off the microphone has ever been translated through the microphone into a memorable song, let alone a whole album. He is disappointment personified. If this decade were to be stricken from the record, not one record that he’s made would need to be stricken from your memory.

photo by Bouzardphoto