The follow-up to Mos Def’s acclaimed solo debut Black on Both Sides is still months away. The reason why you haven’t seen his fans pouting is because he’s still making moves–just in other areas. From appearing in Monster’s Ball to performing on Broadway to allegedly dating Beyonce, Mos has been like an off-duty cabbie–he hasn’t stopped for nuthin’.
With the just-released feature Brown Sugar, the Big Apple native has a starring role. Thankfully, he also allows his artistic juices to flow all over the soundtrack. He raps on four songs, most notably the party-starting title track and the soulful “Breakdown.” On the others, his friends, including Talib Kweli (the title track), Erykah Badu and Common (“Love of My Life”), spread Sandalwood-scented love over some of the most elegantly-layered tracks this side of Kanye West’s private collection.
Angie Stone (“Bring Your Heart”) and Jill Scott (“Easy Conversation”) seduce ears with romantic numbers that’ll have little problem heating up a cool, fall night in the bedroom. A nice meal, some candles and “You Make Life So Good,” a peaceful ballad from crooner Rasaan Patterson, will have a brutha feeling like Denzel, too. Other tracks, including Mary J. Blige’s “Never Been” and the Roots’ “Act Love” further assist in creating a refreshingly serene, R&B- and rap-fused universe reminiscent of the Love Jones soundtrack.
With all of the crack-selling, gun-toting and ass-wiggling in urban music today, this change of pace could not have come at a better time. Thanks, Mos, we needed that.