I'm returning to 2007 to see how my Best Albums of 2007 list has fared this year before tackling the best of 2008.
My review from the tinyblog:
Normally I hate songs like There is a Way, for just the reason Mos Def says at the beginning of the song, "This song only has four lyrics," but then he says why he would make such a song, "but this is what we really need to be singing right now." The lyrics, in case you were curious are:
There is a way, no matter what they say
Don't give up, don't give in.
He sings it like he means it. Just like the Beatles Let It Be where they sing those words probably 50 times. They make every time count. I tried to sing it in karaoke one time and let me tell you, it's harder than it sounds.
I had given up on Mos Def a little, although I always loved his voice, probably one of the straight-up loveliest in hip-hop. But Mos Def is a smart guy and I shouldn't have written him off. Almost everyone I gave music to this year (who likes hip hop) came back to me later and said: hey, I really liked the Mos Def.
It's not too hard to see why, because this album MOVES. His rhymes are good, his singing is amazing, and he zigs where a lot of hip hop zags. Not too much hip hop is so pretty and still makes you think. He stumbles a little in songs like Thug is a Drug, but makes up for it in great songs like Sun, Moon & Stars, and his Liquid Swords tribute Crime and Medicine. It's hilarious to hear him crooning softly GZA's impaired slogan, "To snort cocaine, and act insane" so sweet and regretfully.
Oh, and the 3 is because it's his 3rd album. I like the minimal packaging too… a soft plastic case with no paper, just the CD. Pretty damn good album, but it's at #10 for a reason. On the whole it's not a masterpiece, the whole album doesn't quite rise above the sum of its parts. Still, Undeniable and Sun, Moon and Stars is going in my permanent party rocking list.
My Sweet Snob Commentary, a year later:
To be honest, if I'd known about Yeasayer – All Hour Cymbals, or Okkervil River – The Stand Ins, or Stars of the Lid – And The Refinement of Their Decline, this album wouldn't have had a chance in hell of making the top ten.
It is a solid album by a solid artist, and it's true, Sun, Moon and Stars is a fantastic mellow party-rocking song. Mos Def has a voice sweet and smooth as grade A maple syrup. And There Is a Way could have been the Obama campaign theme song. But it's not quite a top tenner in retrospect. C'est la vie!
It's worth hearing the aforementioned Sun, Moon and Stars:
And There is a Way: