Talent is rare, which makes the doubly talented Mos Def the ultimate rarity- an artist full of stark, critical thoughts that are illustrated through music and acting.
The rapper-turned-actor has always been his own artist. Often offering challenging music to those willing to listen, Mos very rarely seems to be affected by the commercial aspects of music. Instead of catering his music to the club crowd, he uses simply- produced music to offer a perspective that is true to itself.
On “True Magic,” Mos’ third outing, tracks stick to that appeal. Songs like “Undeniable,” “U R the One” and “There Is a Way” have a raw, appealing energy that is missing from the rap game. At a time when most artists have forgotten that “less is more,” Mos seems to live by it. Coloring and infusing his tracks with insightful lyrics and crisp beats that pop rather than fizzle.
On “True Magic,” Mos isn’t out to prove anything; nor does he have to.
This is an album for a core group of devoted listeners which makes sense, because the album isn’t a breeze to get through. Still, there’s never a sense that Mos is going door to door with pitch-perfect sales tactics. Will anything from “True Magic” get radio play? Probably not. Will Mos even care? Probably not.
This is risky music; it’s not trying to impress anyone. It simply contends to be what it is and doesn’t attempt to offer up the safe club hits or ballads to spice things up. Instead, it sticks to its guns, even when it’s shooting blanks. Got to respect that.
Danny Gordon can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.