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Money & Abundance Workshop Group

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Nestor Blokhin
Nestor Blokhin

Mos Def-True Magic Full Album Zi

The Ecstatic covers an international range of styles in a very loose and extemporaneous manner, held together by what Rabin describes as "a lyrical and sonic fascination with life beyond the Western World".[16] According to Robert Christgau, the songs average two-and-a-half minutes and segue into one another without resolution, giving it the feel of a globally influenced hip hop mixtape "with poles in Brooklyn and Beirut".[17] The music reflects Mos Def's varied interests in jazz, poetry, Eastern rhythms, psychedelia, Spanish music, and the blues.[18] The tracks on the first half are, as The Observer's Ben Thompson describes, "predominantly Eastward-looking", while the second half indulges more in Latin and reggae influences.[19] Other sounds sampled or explored include Afrobeat ("Quiet Dog Bite Hard"), Eurodance ("Life in Marvelous Times"), Bollywood ("Supermagic"), and Philadelphia soul.[20] "Supermagic" also draws on elements from Turkish acid rock and Mary Poppins, while on "No Hay Nada Mas", Mos Def sings and raps in Spanish over a flamenco-influenced production.[21] He sings elsewhere on the album, often breaking into sing-song vamps during his raps.[22] Along with his singing, the often sample-based music is unconventional in its use of what Preservation calls unusual time signatures and "awkward" breakdowns.[23]

Mos Def-True Magic Full Album Zi

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According to The Independent's Simmy Richman, The Ecstatic's Eastern-influenced musical backdrop is reflective of Mos Def's "post-War on Terror" themes. Richman calls it a conscious rap record, and No Ripcord's Ryan Faughnder regards it as "socially conscious alternative hip-hop".[25] African-American studies and media scholar Sohail Daulatzai believes the album is informed by Black internationalist politics and Pan-Islamic ideas, while State magazine's Niall Byrne says it explores the theme of international relations on songs such as the Middle Eastern-influenced "The Embassy" and "Auditorium", which features an Iraq-themed guest rap by Slick Rick.[26] On "The Embassy", Mos Def raps from the perspective of an outsider about the lifestyle of an ambassador at a luxury hotel, while the opening song "Supermagic" critiques government treatment of minority groups.[27] Mos Def incorporates a number of Islamic references throughout the album, including samples of American Muslim activist Malcolm X, Turkish protest singer Selda Bağcan, and an Arab-language scene from the 1966 film The Battle of Algiers; additionally, the track "Wahid" is titled after the Arabic word for "oneness".[28]

In The New Yorker, The Ecstatic was hailed as Mos Def's "most conceptually knotty and ambitious work", while Aaron wrote in Spin that the "internationalist return to form" is also "perhaps his liveliest work".[59] For The Irish Times, Jim Carroll said the rapper has not performed this engagingly or skillfully since his career beginnings, highlighting especially "Supermagic" and "Life in Marvelous Times".[53] Mick Middles from The Quietus appraised it as "the joyful sound of a rampant artist, unrestrained by expectation or commercialism", with free-flowing music that escapes the boundaries his previous albums had merely pushed.[60] Ben Thompson, in The Observer, believed the diverse range of samples make it "a crate-digger's wet dream" and "a thrillingly accessible demonstration of hip-hop's limitless creative possibilities" to a layperson.[19] Writing for MSN Music, Christgau felt the songs are "devoid of hooks but full of sounds you want to hear again", along with "thoughtfully slurred" yet intelligible lyrics by Mos Def, whose creative vision warrants the introductory Malcolm X sample.[17] In the opinion of Time's Josh Tyrangiel, his political meditations may not appeal to conservatives but are rich in "the rhythm, exuberance and wit Mos Def showed on his early records".[61] Steve Jones of USA Today said his reflections on politics, love, religion, and societal conditions are full of insight and sincerity while calling the album his strongest effort.[57] 350c69d7ab


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