Mos Def – Black On Both Sides (1999)

SAM_0390In the course of thrifting, I always appreciate finding what is obviously a curated collection. Such was the case when I was with Grampa Asbo the other day in Sandwich and Deal and I found a clutch of pound-a-piece, high-quality turn o’ the century hippity-hoppity see dees. Unfortunately, several pieces I would have had were thrashed (e.g. Jungle Bros’ Forces of Nature), but several others were in fine shape.

I spent a decade and a half wishing Hip-Hop would just go away until I had a eureka moment listening to the U Brown toast during the second half of the 12″ version of the Chantells’ “Children of Jah” (Phase 1). Appreciating Brown’s polyrhythmic musicality and lilt, I “got” hip-hop that instant and a new world opened up. Many rappers allude to reggae, though the crossover is most explicit on Soul Jazz’s excellent Nice Up the Dance.

Black On Both Sides is Mos Def’s solo début and almost all killer. Blending live instruments (many played by Mos himself) and samples (among others a twisted, barely recognisable “Marcus Garvey” by Burning Spear), Black creates a warm, socially conscious vibe–it’s easy to like. Rawkus in the house.

The Gang Starr best of comes highly recommended. Unlike most greatest hits, Full Clip manages to play like a proper album and covers the Golden Age decade during which the duo began plying its trade. There are only a couple duplicates from Step In the Arena, the only other Gang Starr I own. Top drawer.

The Beastie Boys all-instrumental The Mix Up is an also likeable, but slightly underwhelming, affair; a rich man’s indulgence by players who know their limitations. Slinky, funky mid-tempo grooves prevail with hints of the Meters and lounge core.

And also a Pixies comp.

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Published in: on May 24, 2014 at 3:06 pm  Comments (6)  

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6 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I came across boxes and boxes of world music see dees at a boot fair a month or so back. I trawled through them and picked out about 20 – plus I was allowed to put my hand the lucky dip box of promos and pull out another 7 for nothing. Turned out a couple of those were probably better than anything I bought (lots of Portuguese music). The seller was a sometime music writer for various world music mags and the boxes were full of all the freebies he had been sent over the last 10 years or so by the looks of it – much of it unplayed. I was so blinded by it all I didn’t think to make him an offer for a whole box or two.

    • I get that feeling sometimes, that I should have bought a bunch more stuff, but the thought of all the under-listened to music already in my collection comforts me. I suspect you’ve got a similar circumstance going.

  2. Hey I just noticed looking at the picture: rug on black painted floorboards – just like my record listening room (our dining room)!

  3. We paid way too much for that (dining room) carpet and the one in the living room (aka the stereo room) a few years ago. When doing up the annexe last fall, I got a great deal on the eBays from someone who must import so many rugs, he can afford to lose on a few.

    • Our rug is a large Indian affair bought off the internet a year or two ago for about £100 incl shipping and duty. I say including shipping and duty because it is a heavy and bulky item and it was shipped from the US. We tracked its progress across America and then the UK. I am sure it originated in India too. Its carbon footrpint is frightening and of course I’d rather not think of just how little the maker was paid. Still, a nice rug, and just what we had been looking for.

      • Home ownership: an ethical minefield.


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