Retrospective: Mos Def- Black on Both Sides

By @truegodimmortal 

1. Fear Not of Man
Produced by Mos Def 

2. Hip Hop
Produced by Diamond D 

3. Love
Produced by 88 Keys 

4. Ms. Fat Booty
Produced by Ayatollah  

5. Speed Law
Produced by 88 Keys

6. Do It Now(featuring Busta Rhymes)
Produced by Mr. Khaliyl

7. Got
Produced by Ali Shaheed Muhammad 

8. Umi Says
Produced by Mos Def, David Kennedy and 

9. New World Water
Produced by Psycho Les of The Beatnuts 

10. Rock n Roll
Produced by Psycho Les of The Beatnuts 

11. Know That(featuring Talib Kweli)
Produced by Ayatollah 

12. Climb(featuring Vinja Monica)
Produced by DJ Etch-A-Sketch and Weldon Irvine

13. Brooklyn
Produced by Ge-ology, Mos Def and David Kennedy 

14. Habitat
Produced by DJ Etch-A Sketch 

15. Mr. Nigga(featuring Q-Tip)
Produced by D-Prosper 

16. Mathematics
Produced by DJ Premier 

17. May–December
Produced by 88 Keys and Mos Def 

I have gone on record in the past and said that 1999 was a year that didn't excite me for many things. When it came to NY hip hop and lyrical music, Jay was in the club, Nas was finding himself, and the biggest hope was DMX. I was always partial to the more mainstream artists, but after the Blackstar album dropped, I began paying attention to Rawkus Records and what they put out. One of my all time favorite releases from 1999 and from Rawkus was Mos Def's Black on Both Sides album, which starts off with the head nodding track conveniently titled "Hip Hop", as Mos kicks his best shit possible.

The best thing about the album overall to me is the beautiful marriage between the production, lyrics and concepts. Where Mos can take the smooth soulful production of "Ms. Fat Booty" and create an intricate story of hilarity as well as that remains an all time great track. He can take on a topic such as "New World Water" and add charisma to the topic in itself, with lyrics that touch on a heavy issue, one that wasn't really addressed before. My all time favorite Mos Def song is on this album and I can truly appreciate the melodic and breezy sound that comes with "Umi Says". Uplifting images, calls to black power, along with powerful lyrics carry the song and the message to an even higher level than expected.

As the Dionne Warwick sample begins "Know That", we get a treat of the soulful production from Ayatollah, as Mos and Talib kick some rhymes and create yet another amazing track. The combination of Mos and DJ Premier makes for another classic track in "Mathematics", where Mos lyrically elevated on the track. The beat is booming with the usual sample scratches that Premo does and adds, with a solid barrage of verses. However, much like "Umi Says", another one of my favorite songs is the breezy yet somber "Climb", which is yet another call to the people disguised within a soft melody.

The track that truly sums up the album to me would have to be "Mr. Nigga", which is carried by a dope Gil Scott Heron sample and features Mos talking truth about the black man and how he is perceived in America. That's the beauty of this album: it talked about all aspects of life from a varied perspective while still promoting some form of positive vibes and honesty. Mos made a classic with this album and I believe everyone should give this album a revisit or if you missed it before, give it a listen for the first time. It's worth it.



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