While Mos Def may have soured fans in the past few years by accepting acting roles ranging from a gold thief to Ford Prefect, his ability to craft a solid hip-hop album with post-rap nuances has never been in question. The Ecstatic begins with the Middle Eastern/rock-music-influenced Supermagic and doesn't let up on the sound clashes until the very end. Production by Madlib, Oh No, J Dilla, and Mr. Flash (yes, the Ed Banger Records Mr. Flash) keeps The Ecstatic's instrumental canvas as multi-textured and eclectic as they come.
Treading that fine line between cutting-edge and over-the-top lyricism, Mos Def plays incessantly with his voice, content and delivery but never seems to jump the metaphorical shark. Guest appearances on The Ecstatic are short and sweet. Blackstar alum Talib Kweli, Georgia Anne Muldrow and an incredibly introspective political verse from Slick Rick on the Madlib-produced Auditorium help round out the high-quality subtlety of this album. Not to be missed.
Top track: Auditorium