Mos Def – The Ecstatic

In what felt like a pretty barren year for hip-hop, it was kind of surprising that the one stone-cold classic came from Mos Def. Not that he doesn’t have pedigree – 1999’s Black On Both Sides, naturally – but his recent output was either muddled (The New Danger) or creatively impotent (2006’s True Magic). From the off, Mos Def sounds rejuvenated here, spitting politically charged rhymes over aggressive horn-blasts on ‘Twilite Speedball’ or heady, swirling narratives on the brilliant future-pop of ‘Life In Marvellous Times’. Featuring production from Madlib, Chad Hugo and the late J Dilla, The Ecstatic fuses funk, jazz and Afrobeat to create a dense, layered sound that rewards repeated listens.

Key track: ‘Quiet Dog Bite Hard’