Mos Def: Peggy Sirota
Raymond Fiore
October 25, 2004 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Even the slightest insinuation that Mos Def could lose his place in the hip-hop firmament would have been dismissed as mere hater-ism just a few years ago. But not anymore. On his sophomore solo effort, The New Danger, the mighty Mos finally falters with a mishmash of mightily uneven demo-quality tracks. It’s hard to believe that this is what die-hard fans (this writer included) who hail 1999’s Black on Both Sides as a colorful, conscious-rap masterpiece waited five years for.

Sadder still because you’d be hard-pressed to find a more charismatic MC than Mos Def. He’s at his best here rhyming over funky-fresh throwbacks like ”Close Edge,” but he overreaches when he postures as an authentic blues singer (” Bedstuy Parade”), Prince-ly crooner (”Beggar”), and ghetto-rock god (”Freaky Black”). It’s easy to respect his restless artistic spirit, but it doesn’t make swallowing his undercooked ambition any easier.

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